Published on the 10/03/2023 | Written by Marcus Paterson
Ahead of Innovate Australia, Marcus Paterson (Storyblok) asks if the sector is serious about better digital experiences…
After seven years in Canberra working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Australia Tax Office (ATO), Services Australia, and Defence, I’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges government agencies face.
Without the right measures in place, ‘innovation inertia’ can be a significant challenge for the public sector.
Large organisations tend to become resistant to change and innovation, often due to bureaucratic processes, risk aversion, tight budget constraints and a lack of leadership.
Many are battling legacy systems, complex processes, privacy concerns and fragmentation or silos, leading to inconsistent citizen and user experiences and difficulties in accessing government services.
So when it comes to innovation, simply maintaining what they have can feel like an uphill task.
Hence: ‘Innovation Inertia’.
Of course, there are many great stories of breakthrough progress also.
Overcoming ‘innovation inertia’
Overcoming inertia isn’t easy; it takes transformative changes in culture, leadership and technology.
- Culture: Values, attitudes and behaviours shape how an organisation operates. To foster a culture of innovation, government needs to encourage risk-taking, embrace directionally correct failure as a learning opportunity and prioritise customer-centricity.
- Leadership: A crucial ingredient for driving innovation and creating a culture that supports it. Government leaders need to be willing to take risks, challenge the status quo and empower their teams to experiment and innovate.
- Technology: An essential factor in delivering better CX. The Martech landscape is getting increasingly crowded, however a headless CMS, for example, is a powerful tool that can help governments create and deliver better content and services to citizens.
Ahead of its time
The public sector has already made significant progress in CX, taking strides to digitise and allowing citizens to access services online and through mobile apps. Personalisation has also remained front of mind, with a growing emphasis on user-centred design to create solutions that meet customer needs.
New South Wales (NSW) has recently taken a proactive stance, leading the charge towards better CX by publicly committing to be the most customer-centric government in the world by 2030.
Its recent customer experience survey known as CXS surveyed more than 30,000 users of public digital services, providing benchmarks against Victoria and Queensland, as well as more than a handful of other leading international jurisdictions, including New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark among others.
It found that 77% of customers feel that it is easy to interact with NSW government services, 76% are happy with its services and 73% trust that the NSW government is working in their best interests. This lies in stark contrast to the clunky government CX of yesteryear known for painfully slow and unhelpful service experiences and hard-to-navigate websites as standard.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, NSW also made a bold move to abolish more than 500 websites to transform nsw.gov.au into a revamped portal for users to easily get the information they need, heralding a broader system redesign across all Australian governments.
It was a play that not only made citizens happier in their engagement with the government but one that also saved them plenty — an estimated AU$20,000 a website in operational costs and upwards of AU$10 million a year.
The Victoria Government followed suit, building out a single-presence site after a long period of research around citizen user needs. It was built upon a sophisticated, open-source publishing stack that integrated into a headless CMS (content management system). This enabled multiple agencies like Treasury and Finance, Victorian Police and some divisions of Education and Health to use common publishing elements and functionality.
This innovative approach has resulted in a common ‘look and feel’ across government websites, making it easier for citizen users to navigate across different sites.
The case for going “headless”
In a world of high customer expectations, systems as well as their users must constantly evolve to create the best possible experience. And “headless” technology – systems that separate the two ends – has completely changed the game, transforming what users can expect from their CMS. In fact, recent Storyblok research finds that an overwhelming majority (84%) of businesses report improved KPIs, revenue growth and productivity using a headless CMS.
This comes as no surprise, considering the technology can provide government bodies with the flexibility, agility, security, scalability, cost-effectiveness and improved user experience they need to effectively manage and distribute content.
The benefits are many:
- Flexibility: A headless CMS allows government bodies to separate the content management from the presentation layer, giving them the flexibility to use any front-end technology or framework they prefer. This means that they can easily create and manage content once and publish it across multiple platforms and devices without the need for extensive development resources. A visual editor allows you to see the changes you are making in real-time, displaying them exactly how they will appear when published.
- Security: With a headless CMS, the content is stored separately from the presentation layer, reducing the risk of a security breach or data leak. This separation also allows for better control over user access and permissions, ensuring that sensitive data is only accessible to authorised individuals.
- Scalability: Government bodies often have a large amount of content to manage and distribute, and a headless CMS can easily handle this scale. With a headless CMS, it’s easy to add or remove content and make updates as needed, without affecting the front-end user experience.
- Cost-Effective: A headless CMS can be a cost-effective solution for government bodies who continue to look for ways to do more with less, as it eliminates the need for extensive custom development work for each platform or device. It also allows for easier and faster updates, reducing the need for ongoing development resources. If users can quickly find what they are seeking the first time, they are less likely to drop out and use the more expensive contact-centre channel to resolve.
- Improved User Experience: A headless CMS can provide a better user experience by allowing government bodies to create content that is optimised for each device or platform, without having to rebuild the same content for different channels. This means that users can access information in a way that is most convenient and intuitive for them, improving overall engagement and satisfaction.
True transformation is led by customer obsession
While significant momentum has been achieved, more work must still be done to bring Australians to the centre of government. Going forward, they will continue to demand a better experience and consistency across touchpoints. Therefore, a culture of continuous improvement is vital to ensuring service delivery standards keep pace with their increasing expectations.
Discover more about what’s in store for the next frontier of citizen services with CX and digital services that inspire true public trust and engagement at Innovate Australia Wednesday, 15 March 2023 at the National Convention Centre in Canberra. Register your interest here.
About the author
Marcus Paterson is Sales Director, APAC for Storyblok. He recently led digital transformation and strategic IT projects and services to the Australian Federal Government, after multiple years of experience in Tier 1 Banking in Australia and Asia.