Canada Leads 22 Countries in Developing Electronic Government with Customer-Service Focus
WASHINGTON, D.C.; April 8, 2003 – Improving citizen satisfaction is the key factor driving the development of online government services, far more significant than the pressure to reduce costs, according to a study released today by Accenture.
The study, "eGovernment Leadership: Engaging the Customer,” is Accenture’s fourth annual global study on electronic government (“eGovernment”). As part of the study, Accenture interviewed more than 140 senior executives in government agencies across North America, Europe and Asia and conducted additional quantitative and qualitative research to assess the breadth and depth of eGovernment practices in 22 countries.
When asked to select factors “driving development” of online government services for citizens, 93 percent of the government executives surveyed selected “improving citizen satisfaction,” 83 percent selected “customer demands for new and better services” and 77 percent selected the need to meet “government performance targets,” whereas only 51 percent selected “pressure to reduce costs.”
“The mantra we increasingly hear from government executives is ‘give the people what they want,’” said Steve Rohleder, global chief executive of Accenture’s Government practice. “As government executives focus on tailoring online services to meet the needs of specific customer segments, just as businesses do, their eGovernment programs will be more successful and deliver greater returns on the investments.”
As part of the study, Accenture also ranked each of the 22 countries in terms of the sophistication of their online services. This analysis considered a variety of factors, including how well each government’s services incorporate customer relationship management (CRM) practices, as well as the level of “maturity” with which each government delivers electronic services–that is, the breadth and sophistication of the online services offered, such as whether the services involve only publication of information, offer some electronic interaction capability, or provide full capabilities for online transactions.
Accenture then placed each government in one of five “plateaus,” or levels, of online maturity. The first plateau is the lowest overall maturity, which basically entails little more than having an online presence. The fifth, and highest, plateau is overall service transformation.
For the third year in a row, Canada topped the list in terms of overall eGovernment maturity, and it was the only country to reach the fifth plateau this year. According to the study, Canada’s eGovernment initiative is differentiated by its customer-service vision; methods for measuring success of services; broad, integrated approach to offering government services through multiple service-delivery channels; and a cross-agency approach to online services. Further, the government has placed its citizens and businesses at the core of its eGovernment initiative, identifying services for individual customer segments, and government executives view eGovernment as an evolutionary process that is part of a broader service transformation effort.
Singapore, the United States, Denmark, Australia, Finland, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and France all ranked on the fourth plateau of mature electronic service delivery. These governments have established customer service objectives, and their portals offer valuable, convenient online services to their customers. For instance, Belgium’s government last year launched a new portal that targets services to customer segments–citizens, businesses and civil servants–incorporating a feature that can be used by the visually impaired to access information online.
Countries on the third plateau of service availability–including The Netherlands, Spain, Japan, Norway, Italy and Malaysia–had basic portals, built with the goal of making as many services available online as quickly as possible. These countries had broad electronic service adoption targets; some sophisticated transaction capabilities; and were somewhat focused on their customers, with individual agencies taking initial steps to work collaboratively to offer online services.
"The most important driver for government transformation strategies usually is and should be improving citizen service," said John Kost, vice president for Government Research Worldwide at Gartner, Inc., a leading technology research and advisory firm. "In the short term, it will likely not save money. But, in the long term, effective eGovernment strategies will improve citizen self-sufficiency and reduce the overall cost of government."
Accenture found that eGovernment maturity follows a cyclical pattern, with periods of rapid development followed by slow-downs in progress as governments reach another plateau. Moving from plateau to plateau to reach a higher level of maturity required a country to reevaluate its objectives and results and then modify its approach. However, all 22 countries in this year’s study had moved beyond the first plateau, which requires little more than creating a basic online presence.
“Driving the take-up of new electronic services beyond current levels must be a high priority for governments if they expect to realize the benefits of eGovernment,” said Vivienne Jupp, Accenture’s managing partner for Global eGovernment Services. “Doing so requires developing marketing strategies to build greater awareness of those online services that have the potential for the greatest use.”
Accenture is the world’s leading management consulting and technology services company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them realize their visions and create tangible value. With deep industry expertise, broad global resources and proven experience in consulting and outsourcing, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, alliances and technologies. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.6 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2002. Its home page is www.accenture.com.