When will UK government services have their ‘Uber moment’?

Industries are being ripped up overnight. From booking a hotel to ordering a pizza, and taking out a loan to fulfilling a medical prescription, consumer experiences are becoming increasingly digitally-led.

The knock-on effect is more pressure on the government to meet this new standard of demand and deliver the same kind of digital services that consumers experience day-to-day. Will it have its own ‘Uber moment’?

Giving consumers what they need

Today’s digital-first citizens have high expectations from the user experience and functionality of online public services.

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We recently contributed to EMC’s ‘Future of Government Digital Services’ report, which found that 65% of consumers believed that government online services lack the ease of use and features they enjoy from similar private sector services.

There are also calls for improvements to be made to a number of governmental departments, with demand for more online services in areas like healthcare and local government, and simpler navigation and language across the board.

The research also uncovered a clear demand for a multi-channel experience. Half of consumers want the flexibility to interact online, but also still speak to someone if they need to.

This is particularly true of healthcare, where e-prescription availability from all GPs and pharmacies was identified as the service most wanted by citizens, along with live chats and online GP consultations.

Consumers want government services that are easy to use, have the functionality that replicates the intuitive design they’ve become accustomed to in their personal lives and give them the option of live interaction. As they stand, these services offer little in the way of the secure, seamless, quick and effortless experience.

Delivering on what the man on the street wants

To address these challenges, the government must work together with industry leaders to deliver future generations of smart online tools, all the while building trust with consumers so they become willing supporters.

By creating government services that users can enjoy rather than endure, a new standard of consumer interaction will be realised. The result will be increased stickiness across public applications and tools.

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To make this a reality, attention needs to be paid to three key areas:

Frictionless developer experiences

App developers cannot be subject to the level of complexity that many encounter today. Why can’t they run with a just 'push and it works' approach, once their apps have been coded?

The fact is, they can. New approaches mean the process of deploying an application can be dramatically simplified. Using a new platform, all a developer has to do is type a couple of commands, set a memory estimation for the app and push it live. It really doesn’t get any simpler.

Taking a PaaS-first approach

These modern Government applications will also need different ‘back-end’ infrastructures to function).The Government needs to encourage portability across cloud platforms. Pure ‘public cloud’ deployments will not always be a viable option. Applications must be able to move between different environments as needed.

Many application development teams are still coding for legacy or proprietary environments. Surely the case is clear for modern applications to require no changes whatsoever when deployed on a different underlying IaaS? Using a Platform-as-a-Service, and tried and proven cloud-native design principles, this is no longer a problem.

Creating world-class development teams

Identifying and employing the right people is the cornerstone of delivering the Government services that users demand. This can appear to be an incomprehensible challenge in the face of competition from in vogue private sector employers like Facebook and Google.

In practice, using the most modern collaborative development approaches (including pair programming) means it is now possible to avoid an all-out talent war for developers, while still allowing for the creation of world-class development teams.

Transformation of this scale requires an ecosystem of platforms and solutions built on standard capabilities, open standards and agile approaches to ensure that a universal, collaborative approach remains focused on the user.

In doing so, the government can provide services that citizens not only enjoy and willingly use time after time, but that will also truly reshape their futures. The time is ripe for the government to experience its own ‘Uber moment’. Will it take the next step?

Sourced from Les Klein, director of Field Engineering for EMEA, Pivotal

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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