The success of digitization within public services hinges on application performance and meeting the needs of the Application Generation

By Gregg Ostrowski, CTO Advisor, Cisco Observability.

  • 1 month ago Posted in

Across the world, governments continue to focus on the digitization of public services to improve citizen outcomes, increase access to services, and streamline costs against a challenging economic backdrop and chronic resourcing challenges. In the U.S, for instance, the Customer Experience Priority aims to ensure “every interaction between (our) government and the public, whether it involves filing taxes, applying for a small business loan, or renewing a passport, delivers value, service, and efficiency.”

In the main, citizens are embracing this shift to digital channels, recognizing the speed, ease and convenience that applications can provide. People can quickly carry out administrative tasks and get information that they need which previously would have involved visiting multiple physical locations or spending hours waiting on hold to speak to a contact center representative.

However, this appetite for digital services is now being sorely tested because the applications that people are using to access public services aren’t working as they should. And this is particularly true amongst younger citizens.

The latest research from Cisco, The App Attention Index 2023: Beware the Application Generation, reveals how attitudes and behaviors towards digital services have evolved differently amongst a new category of younger people, aged 18-34, which has emerged across the world, The ‘Application Generation’. They have relied on applications to get them through the pandemic - for their education, to start out in their careers, and to stay close to friends - and now they're using them with great skill to live and thrive in a hybrid world.

The Application Generation place digital services at the center of their lives and they pride themselves on using only the most innovative, intuitive, and secure applications. They want every digital experience to enrich their lives. But when applications let them down, these young citizens react extremely with fury; they go out of their way to punish any organization that fails to deliver a seamless digital experience. Alarmingly, three quarters (75%) of the Application Generation report that they’ve encountered problems when using applications to access public services over the last 12 months. And more than half admit that this is making them want to go back to face-to-face and phone interactions with organizations.

For public sector institutions, any shift away from applications and digital services represents a massive risk, with the potential to overwhelm other channels - such as contact centers and offices and branches - and heap yet more pressure onto employees. They urgently need to get to grips with this challenge, and this means focusing on application performance and security to deliver the seamless and secure digital experiences which the Application Generation now demand.

Poor digital experiences are making citizens question the value of applications

The study finds that the Application Generation are the heaviest users of digital services, with 77% using at least one application on a regular basis to access public services.

Alongside this, expectations for digital experiences are far higher amongst this younger cohort of application users. The Application Generation are far more sophisticated and discerning than older citizens in their use of applications. They’ve seen how the world’s most innovative brands are offering ever more intuitive and personalized digital experiences, and they’re hungry for more. They are priding themselves on enjoying only the very best, most exceptional digital experiences.

Crucially, the Application Generation make no allowances when they’re using applications to access public services. They expect these applications to perform at the same level as those they use to do other things like stream movies, buy clothes and connect with friends. And if these digital services don’t live up to their expectations, they feel disrespected and react strongly.

Amongst the Application Generation, 41% admit that they get stressed and angry when the applications that they use to access public services don’t perform, and 35% say that they immediately revert to other channels such as branches and contact centers to access public services.

With this in mind, it’s worrying that so many young citizens are experiencing performance issues when using applications to access public services. It’s little wonder that their frustration is growing.

The shift to digital self-service hinges on application performance

In response to this rising sense of frustration amongst citizens, public agencies urgently need to ensure that they’re able to deliver seamless and secure digital experiences at all times. And this means equipping their IT teams with the tools and insights they need to optimize application availability, performance, and security.

The reality is that many public sector IT departments are struggling to manage an ever more complex and dispersed application landscape, with limited visibility into application environments and no clear line of sight up and down the application path where components are running across cloud native and on premises technologies. This is making it increasingly difficult to detect, understand and remediate issues before they impact citizen experience.

To get to grips with this growing challenge, public agencies need to implement an application observability solution which provides their IT teams with full and unified visibility across hybrid environments and enables them to quickly identify and resolve issues. In addition, by correlating application availability, performance and security data with key business metrics, application observability enables IT teams to prioritize issues based on potential impact to end users.

Leaders within public sector institutions must recognize that unless they’re able to deliver seamless and secure digital experiences, their well-intentioned digitization initiatives simply won’t deliver the intended results. They need to put application performance and security at the heart of their strategies to deliver the exceptional digital experiences that citizens, and the Application Generation in particular, now demand.

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