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56% of Aussies dissatisfied with govt digital services


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 06 November, 2017


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Despite significant investment in digital transformation, many Australians remain unhappy with the public sector’s digital service offerings.

More than half (56%) of Australians are dissatisfied with the quality of public sector digital services on offer today, according to research from Riverbed.

A survey of Australian adults found that 9% believe the public sector are failing completely with their digital services and 47% feel they are not as good as expected.

Despite the federal government’s ongoing digital transformation initiatives, the survey found that Australians use digital services from local councils (70%) and state governments (49%) significantly more than federal departments (41%).

The most common services being accessed include transport, libraries, rubbish collection and other local services (84%), health services (69%), social services (61%) and education services (48%).

The survey also found that only 55% of Australians feel confident when using government digital services, although this is slightly higher among 18- to 34-year-olds (60%) than 55-year-olds or older (40%).

Nearly one in three (31%) respondents said they have stopped using an online service because of slow response times, with younger generations more likely to abandon a service for this reason.

Among users of government digital services, half (51%) use them at least once every three months, with 30% engaging with them fortnightly.

Despite the mixed reception, the survey found that two-thirds of Australians who use online government services have recommended online services to others. Australians are most likely to recommend local services (68%) and social services (46%) to others, but are less warm on health services (34%) and education services (33%).

Likewise, the survey suggests that many Australians don’t believe the private sector is any better at delivering satisfying digital services, with half of respondents ranking the public and private sector equally for the experiences provided. But 36% felt the public service does provide superior services, compared to just 12% who named government services as better.

Australians who believe the public sector to be behind cited difficulty in finding information (59%), as well as a more limited range of technology available to access information (56%) and variety of communication channels (54%).

Not all bad news

One crucial area where the public sector is thought to outperform business is security. The report found that 13% of Australians are happy for the public sector to hold their personal information, and while this is low it towers above the 5% who are confident in the public sector holding their information.

In addition, 42% of Australians are happy to open an online account with a government agency to access sensitive information including tax or medical documents.

Australians are also more more willing to share personal data in exchange for streamlined public sector rather than private sector engagements, with 40% saying they would be comfortable providing this information. But more than a quarter (27%) are turned off from using online services by the need to input too much background information.

As a result there is a strong demand for single-sign on capability (66%), with the ability to pay bills online (64%) and receiving updates via email or SMS (54%) being other key features citizens expect from digital services.

In the future, two-thirds of respondents (64%) indicated that they would be happy for the public sector to incorporate biometric authentication or health analysis into their digital offerings. More than half (53%) also want to see the government share information between different departments to avoid the need for duplicate forms.

The services Australians least want to see offered include having drones deliver passports (52%), driverless ambulances (52%) and having judges use videoconferencing in court (35%). Bucking the global trend, Australians are also less likely to want to interact with location-based services, robotic assistants or through Facebook as a communications platform.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents felt public sector agencies should be looking towards the banking and building society sector for inspiration while improving their digital services. Other strong digital performers nominated include telecommunications (28%), utility providers (27%) and retailers (25%).

Prioritising the experience

“At a time when Australians are more connected to their devices than ever before, their perceptions of and confidence in government is directly tied to the quality of the digital services being offered,” Riverbed Technology VP for Australia and New Zealand Keith Buckley said.

“The public sector has made notable strides and significant investment in digital over the last few years, from the New South Wales’ digital transformation Bill, to the initiative to add South Australian drivers’ licences to a smartphone app. But it’s clear that long-term success requires more than simply delivering the right service. It demands an urgent need to prioritise delivering a great digital experience.”

He said this will also mean investing in the IT and networking infrastructure capable of delivering the experiences demanded.

“Australia is amidst a monumental shift in upgrading our network capabilities, but the reality is the second we create more bandwidth, we are going to consume it — especially as all industries and sectors continue down the path of delivering richer applications and services,” he said.

“Delivering great experiences to citizens will require more than just building bigger pipes. It requires an increased focus on building infrastructure that enables public sector institutions to optimise and control applications and services, and provides deeper insights into citizen and employee experiences.

“Empowering the public sector to prioritise performance of the new experiences will foster a positive cycle of satisfaction, confidence and advocacy.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/StockRocket

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