Good citizen digital experiences on demand with observability
Sascha Giese, Global Tech Evangelist from SolarWinds, tells us how going beyond traditional monitoring can help governments improve their digital interactions with citizens.
Sascha Giese, Global Tech Evangelist of IT solutions provider SolarWinds, says the goal of governments ramping up their digital transformation should be to meet citizens’ expectations of “flawless” digital experiences. Image: Canva
People want more ways to interact digitally with their governments, and they want these modern e-services to be easy to use and secure.
According to a recent study based on a survey conducted across the Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America, the proportion of respondents who said they wanted more digital interaction with their own governments rose from 29 percent to 39 percent from 2019 to 2022.
Sascha Giese, Global Tech Evangelist of IT solution provider SolarWinds, told GovInsider that the goal of governments ramping up their digital transformation should be to meet citizens’ expectations of “flawless” digital experiences.
Based on the survey by Accenture, however, only about one-third of respondents found that government processes and interactions were intuitive, and more than half found accessing public services frustrating.
For public service agencies to achieve their objectives, there is growing acceptance that delivering good customer experiences in the digital world is no longer just preferred but necessary. This sentiment is linked to the growing smartphone generation, who utilise government digital platforms to carry out crucial tasks, like tax payments.
Giese shares his thoughts on some challenges that impact digital government services and what agencies can do to improve outcomes.
Why good citizen experiences can be elusive
“As customers, users, or citizens, we expect a flawless experience,” says Giese. “For instance, when entering data into a system, [the system] should be reliable, easy to use, available around the clock, and smart enough not to request duplicate information.”
If government e-services fail to live up to these standards, it’s fair to say that the people behind the systems did not mean to design them this way. So, what are the challenges behind creating seamless digital experiences today?
“There’s a technical as well as a human component to the challenges,” says Giese. “As humans, we’re getting more and more impatient, and we’re used to doing everything from our mobile phones.
“We are demanding, and satisfying these demands requires well-working technology and proper processes. However, in the public sector, we often see legacy technology that’s still in use.
“Such gear has been built for a different time, but typically can’t be replaced easily. So, one of the greatest challenges is to stitch legacy infrastructure together with modern applications, without compromising on performance, availability, and security.”
How observability can help
Giese, with over 15 years of technical IT experience and was responsible for product training SolarWinds channel partners and customers, highlights that solving technology challenges that stymie optimal digital services is a “complex task”.
“Making old and new technology cooperate is a challenge. It’s a complex task that requires expertise in various fields … [solving this] requires ongoing efforts, not just a set-and-forget-it solution,” he says.
One way to mitigate such challenges and ensure security would be to embrace observability solutions, which Giese believes go beyond traditional monitoring and have been designed for complicated scenarios.
“They’re built for the most complex environments and help to display the big picture. Proper observability can help lower the burden on the IT teams,” he adds.
Sharing some solutions designed to deliver such observability, Giese highlights that the SolarWinds® Platform ships with features such as NetPath™, which allows the following of an application’s path through various networks.
“This is beneficial when investigating a performance problem in distributed environments,” he explains and hence enables agencies to ensure that digital experiences run more smoothly.
“Moreover, a feature [of the SolarWinds Platform] called PerfStack™ allows automated correlation of data from various layers, locations, or objects. It’s a visual aid to align data points over time and discover root causes of issues quicker,” he adds.
Check, verify, back it up
In addition to software solutions that boost the delivery of digital services, Giese offers security tips to public sector agencies, such as running checks on typical user actions, verifying functionality continuously, and looking into application tracing to spot anomalies.
“Performance issues aside, government agencies should have working backup strategies. Ransomware attacks or generic data losses have consequences – it’s citizens’ data, after all!” he emphasizes.
“Furthermore, developers of mobile or web apps should pay more attention to user-friendliness and accessibility. The best-working infrastructure isn’t helpful if we can’t use it correctly.”