citizen engagement

Citizen Engagement in 2018

When you are fundamentally trying to change the way governments engage with their citizens, how do you know what you’re doing is right? People ask me this a lot. I can talk to your customers to get their thoughts on what we are building or their plans. That’s good, but they are the government, so they have an inside-out perspective. Finding citizen perspectives are limited, there are some citizen surveys posted on the web, or general trend whitepapers from analysts and research firms, but it’s still not good enough. Surveys mostly focus on one country, state or city, not a global mix of people. And, they always ask one dimensional questions, like “How satisfied are you with the services you receive from the Department of X, or City Y?” On a scale of 1 to 10, a rating of 2 or 3 could be given, but why? We will never know.

I have seen other surveys focus on digital experiences which compare Government experiences against those a consumer has in Banking, Retail, Telcos and Utilities. That can lead to some interesting insights, but it usually stands out that experiences with Government ranks at the bottom of the list. This is not something our government customers can take as actionable insights, it’s just people saying you’re service isn’t as good as Retail, with no useful context. Public Sector folks don’t find this surprising, Retail has been blazing the digital trail a lot longer and more aggressively than Public Sector, because it’s a matter of competition. Retail also has added a lot of creative digital people and their organizations have shifted accordingly. Government is slowly moving in the right direction, but they need the right insights and the solutions to help them do it properly.

So, when we are faced with data that doesn’t give us the outside-in perspective, the why, the expectations and deeper understanding and connection, we felt it was time to take the bull by the horns and find out for ourselves. The live citizen survey at SXSW 2018, for 6 days on the streets of Austin, has the potential to get samples from citizens from up to 86 countries who will be at the event. This is no small feat, but the data will allow us to understand at a deeper level, what people from different generations, genders, who like certain genres of music, who are from different countries and states view things. How they feel and why, about the digital services they are receiving right now, what they know about smart cities and what they expect from one, and how much they are willing to share to get really great service from government. I dare say, there has never been a live global research survey of this magnitude that will give us, instantly, such a clear view and insights into what is experienced and expected from citizens all around the world. It’s going to be magical.

Kathleen O'Brien
Global Industry Principal - Public Sector
SAP Hybris

[email protected]
March 8, 2018