Wouldn’t it be convenient if getting services from state government were as easy as shopping at Amazon.com? State government, with its array of departments and agencies, is practically as diverse in the offerings to be found on Amazon. Some states are beginning to recognize the advantages of an online one-stop-shop, where you can search for and easily locate a state government service, without having to visit each department and agency website individually.
Like Amazon, the ideal state omnibus site would be personalized to the needs of the resident using it. The site would recognize the citizen individually at login, know the range of services used on previous visits and direct them quickly to what they’re looking for.
According to a feature article in Government Technology (How Can Government Deliver an Amazon-esque Service Experience to Constituents? Nov. 3, 2017), three states, Georgia, Utah and Ohio have made the biggest strides in creating a customer-centric site.
Georgia was able to get all agencies to agree to single portal access through the state website, which was developed using best practices that enable it to adapt to new technologies, like Alexa. But it wasn’t easy.
Georgia’s Chief Digital Officer Nikhil Deshpande noted that the critical elements in developing the state’s site were fostering buy-in across agencies, data-driven decision-making and creating one source of information for consistency.
He also stated that creating a culture of data-driven decision making was beneficial, too. A challenge still facing government, unlike Amazon or other online retailers, is accommodating every last person in the state, not just customers. Systems must be made for people who use all devices, from laptops to Amazon’s Alexa to old-school phones, and they must be accessible for people with disabilities. There are also people who still walk into government offices to do business.
Rather than create a single site for every resident, Utah decided to start with an omnibus site exclusively for businesses. In addition to providing a single online venue where businesses could conduct transactions with state agencies, the state can also use it to send texts directly to business owners alerting them when it’s time to renew licenses.
Ohio may be the state that aspires most closely to providing the Amazon experience. Ohio CIO Stu Davis believes personalization is key to customer-centric digital efforts: “People don’t love Amazon because it’s a pretty website,” Bridges said. “People love Amazon because it gets you right to the content you want, expeditiously.”
To date, Ohio has focused heavily on creating an enterprise ID that makes it easier to identify individual users and what they need.
The State of Hawaii has a head start in providing a collection of services for its citizens online via my.hawaii.gov, which includes selected information and state online services for businesses and residents, along with information for visitors. The site also includes links to some services in each county.
However, my.hawaii.gov is not a true one-stop shop, but more of an aggregator where links to all of the department sites can be found. For most services, it is still necessary to visit the individual departments. Like a Google search, the site’s search function generates a page of entries related to keywords the user types in.
Hawaii’s Office of Enterprise Technology Services already has a full plate of IT infrastructure work. But it would be encouraging for the state to at least begin laying plans for our own user-centric one-stop-shop portal in the not-too-distant future.