On the way to platformization in government services
By Oliver Nicolas, Directeur Business Unit e-Citiz, Softeam - February 18, 2019
Digital transformation has become a priority for governments as well. Administrative agencies want to simplify, streamline and make their relationship with citizens, businesses, associations and their agents more efficient. Platforms hosted on the Cloud make it possible for them to roll out ever more online services, using an industrial approach. Deciphering the objectives and issues at stake in the platformization of State services and feedback from the ground.
Why is the digitization of administrative procedures a priority for States?
The digital transformation of governments and local authorities serves four objectives:
- An economic objective in a context of government spending cuts. Digitization results in greater efficiency and productivity for agents while improving services to users, who are able to carry out their procedures more quickly and at their own pace. These platforms also foster the creation of innovative Business Models. Enabling invoicing of e-consumer services (number of users, number of cases, volume of cases, etc.), SaaS opens the door to digital services for administrations with limited budgets, such as local authorities.
- An attractiveness objective. By making State services accessible to anyone, anywhere and anytime, governments create loyal users, who then become clients. This ubiquity, which takes down the language barrier and abolishes time zones, also contributes to the attractiveness of territories for foreign companies.
- An image objective. States, like companies, want to enter the 21st century: shake the dust from their image; modernize their relationship with users who are already able to modify their electricity contract on their mobile and pay their bills online; and contribute to sustainable development by reducing their paper consumption and use of transport.
- Lastly, a respectability objective for those States suspected, sometimes wrongly, of corruption. When administrative procedures are formalized, there is less room for arbitrariness and over-riding. Digitizing services creates transparency in the interactions between entrepreneurs and the State. This respectability, which fosters attractiveness in the eyes of foreign investors, is the objective of the World Bank’s “Doing Business” program.
What are the issues at stake in the platformization of government services?
They are multi-dimensional. I would list six main issues:
- Secured access to platform services and the protection of the personal data they use, as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to all.
- “Scalability” or the ability to ramp up, if not automatically, then at least easily, when services are increasingly used. While there is a price to pay for success, that price should not kill the service that enabled it.
- Accessibility, for disabled persons, to all digital public services offered by an administration, in the same way as physical counters are available to others.
- Agility which enables e-services and m-services to live at the same pace: the State must be able to reform itself, optimize its processes, propose new uses in a short amount of time and at controlled budget levels.
- Interoperability: the platform will need to integrate services in line with the IT systems in place.
- Organization: change management must be provided when digital tools transform working conditions within the organization.
The market offers a few generic platforms for those looking to design and deploy “e-services” and “m-services”. What is the e-Citiz solution developed by Softeam?
Created in 2004, the e-Citiz end-to-end platform includes:
- An e-service design studio, backed up by an agile patented “Double Loop” methodology based on international standards (BPMN, UML).
- An Engine to deploy secure services in the Cloud in terms of processes (workflows), as well as business rules and data.
- Vertical online service packages designed in response to the needs of Cities (civil registry, early childhood services, etc.), Départements (applications for social benefits, etc.), Regions (applications for subsidies, school transport, etc.) and Companies (compliance with the GDPR). These can be mobile apps, such as UbiLoop, for reporting incidents geolocated on public thoroughfare.
- A “Privaciz” cross-functional offer to document GDPR compliance with the services offered by the platform and manage the expression of user rights (consent).
How does e-Citiz benefit administrations and communities?
e-Citiz takes the platformization of digital counters to the industrial level. Its One-Stop-Shop approach prevents the application silos found in IS from re-occurring. The platform ensures the security of exchanges and data, respect for the confidentiality of personal data, the ability to ramp up workload and more generally facilitates performance, so that users can enjoy an ergonomic experience. Its "iterative agile" model speeds up the pace of transformation. Taking on-board all the technical and regulatory constraints present (security, scalability, performance, accessibility, ergonomics), it enables government officials to focus on making needs heard. It offers Responsive Interfaces that can be adapted to each terminal (PC, tablet, smartphone) as well as multilingual online services, including in Arabic. Lastly, its "eazly" product endows the administration with the ability to manage the actual activities of its online services without technical intervention. It uses a WYSIWYG Studio and Drag & Drop so that even the novice user can become what Gartner calls a “Citizen Developer” of online services.
What are the most frequently-encountered problems for organizations in the platformization process?
For years, we have been able to manage the technical aspect of integrating platforms into the State’s IS, in particular using SOA and API architectural approaches. The same cannot be said about change management -- a key success factor, as online service platforms indeed change agents’ working conditions. Consequently, not only is it important to provide them with training, but also to involve them upstream from transformation, using the “double loop” methodology. By becoming full-fledged players in the project, the agents take ownership of it and accept it, thereby facilitating change.
Agile e-Citiz platform: measurable ROI
By dematerializing two administrative procedures -- support to businesses and vocational training management, one Region saved more than €62,000 per year in port costs (ordinary and registered letters). It also reduced the workload involved in processing applications for agents by nearly 23%, generating annual savings of €330,000 while enabling individual cases to be better managed. The initial return on investment was achieved in 26 months.
By dematerializing its competitive examination process, one National Research Institute gave a significant boost to its attractiveness: depending on the year, it recorded between +69% and +130% in additional applications from interested researchers.
In France, e-Citiz includes:
- the FranceConnect service, which spares the citizen from having to store dozens of user names and passwords, by offering unique secure access
- the National Address Database offering users assistance with entering their postal addresses.
e-Citiz accesses the Government's APIs and makes it possible, for example, to retrieve the company name, address, members of the board of directors and the turnover for a selected organization from the SIRET business registration system, so that the user does not have to enter data multiple times.