In just a few short weeks it will be 2018, and even though it will be a brand new year, one thing will remain a constant: how we communicate with each other will continue to evolve based on our digital experiences. In this edition of our Twelve Days of Digital Transformationblog series, I take a look at how tech companies are not only changing the game for consumer experiences, but are also raising the bar on constituent expectations for how we interact.
Global, private-sector businesses are embracing digitalization and most consumers now expect a certain level of efficiency that comes with it. Private-sector organizations have understood that they must keep up with changing consumer behavior or be out of business.
Today's government agencies are under the same intense pressures to increase their standard of service to their constituents, and the same technology revolutionizing consumer experiences is playing a large role in their expectations.
When a private sector company fails to transform itself through innovation, its relative quality declines, it loses market share, its profits shrink, and it often goes out of business. But when the federal government fails to innovate, it doesn't go out of business. Rather, as the quality of its deliverables and services declines and its costs increase, it just gets farther and farther from its constituents' expectations.
Here are eleven technology companies that are changing what we have come to expect from our constituent experience.
Black Friday has come and gone, which means the holiday season is in full swing, and online shopping has never been more prevalent than it is today. With shoppers becoming increasingly comfortable buying everything from common household supplies to apparel to big ticket electronics over the Internet, it seems that the very definition of the shopping "experience" is evolving along with changing consumer lifestyles ñ and Amazon is leading the charge.
And as consumers get more comfortable making online purchases, their e-commerce expectations have also risen, and that includes their transactions with government organizations.
Constituents all over the country go online to pay tax and utility bills, renew vehicle registrations, and pay for recreation programs, and they all expect a seamless experience; the same seamless experience that online retailers like Amazon have made the norm.
As government agencies continue their digital transformation journeys, consumer technologies, especially those within e-commerce, will continue to drive rapid change in constituent expectations. This necessitates a platform that can support this rapid evolution, as well as the quick deployment of constituent-facing applications.
Artificial intelligence (AI) companies are sprouting up all over, though AI itself is far from new and is progressing rapidly. And with key advancements ranging from virtual assistants to fraud detection, this emerging tech now plays a part in our everyday lives.
Artificial intelligence technology holds an endless amount of possibilities. One such company driving innovation within the AI industry is Zodiac. Using data models, Zodiac uses customer analytics and behavioral analysis to predict the future behaviors of individuals. Factors like number of purchases, basket size and churn probabilities all play a role in these predictions, rather than simply assuming past trends will continue.
How might this influence the future of constituent experiences?
Through artificial intelligence, organizations can increase visitor satisfaction by leveraging data yielded from Zodiac and similar solutions to optimize their websites. So when a visitor lands on a government site, we could see a streamlined experience that has been constructed based on past user behavior.
When it comes to quality customer service, you can't beat a physical, face-to-face interaction. However, if a physical presence is not feasible, many organizations take it only one step lower and use video. There are myriad technology tools out there, such as Gruveo, to share your face across the internet, and the more people see it, the more you become a human rather than a statistic.
As video chat technology continued to evolve and become even more embedded in mainstream applications, so did our willingness as consumers to utilize this technology in our everyday life. Public sector adoption of this personalized technology will continue to evolve our constituent interactions with government organizations for the better.
Social media isn't a fad or trend. It's an enduring reality of online existence. And for today's companies, it's indispensable. Moreover, as social media has become a large part of our everyday life, we as consumers have come to expect all entities that we interact with to have a social presence that we can interact with in a myriad of ways. And no social media platform has transformed these expectations more than Facebook.
Government agencies are recognizing the importance of having a social media presence and have begun to carve out their own online real estate.
And Facebook, not surprisingly, is perhaps the most common outlet for government social media efforts. Facebook offers a number of unique advantages in helping government agencies do a better job of interacting with their constituents, from the ability to publish valuable news and updates in real-time, to social applications for polling, and the ability to push out more engaging content like videos and photos.
Constituents have become accustomed to certain mediums of communication, especially real-time channels, and social media platforms like Facebook have arguably made the biggest impact in shaping these expectations.
Nobody wants to make phone calls anymore, and especially not for queries that could be handled faster via mobile messaging. Organizations need to talk to their mobile customers, but until now they haven't had an enterprise-grade solution that aggregates and supports the new wave of instant communication platforms.
Zingle has solved this problem. An enterprise SaaS startup, Zingle, helps organizations communicate with customers via texting and other mobile messaging channels. Solutions like these help to facilitate instant customer service and save time in today's mobile world.
Recently, Zingle was chosen as Hyatt's global preferred guest messaging service as it will help them deploy the first-ever text messaging service for hotel concierges. Now their guests will have the ability to text the front desk from their phone, instead of having to speak to a human, to ask for more towels, room service, or other services and amenities. This level of innovation is just the start and government agencies must be able to adapt to this disruptive and fast-paced culture of innovation coming from the private sector. Is your agency ready to scale?
A newspaper being on this list might seem silly, but The Washington Post is no longer simply a newspaper. That all changed when Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos personally acquired the 136-year-old newspaper in August 2013. Now, this "newspaper" is making waves as it created a platform to tackle its own challenges.
Among the many capabilities this native platform delivers, it shoulders the responsibility of ensuring that readers get a real-time, reliable experience when they visit a site, regardless of the device they are using. This is something that consumers have come to demand from their interactions with private and public sector organizations. Optimized mobile and tablet experiences have become prerequisite to any interactions and government agencies must incorporate a platform that will deliver on these expectations for their constituents.
Netflix knows when you've been sleeping, it knows when you're awake. And while this would have seemed border-line creepy just a few years ago, in today's personalized environment, we as consumers of entertainment, have come to expect this level of content relevance in our lives. The same expectations hold true as we scour for information, even from our government, and we have Netflix to thank for this advancement.
In the past, information search and recommendation have been held back by lack of detailed metadata, which often offers little more than title, genre, and basic qualities. However, now times are changing as metadata starts to dig deeper and allow recommendations engines to pick up more nuanced information. For example, Netflix is now measuring our public joy, pain, and shame, and we have a whole new set of physical and emotional obstacles to navigate. This promises to match information and content as a whole more accurately to constituent preferences.
From AI to the cloud, it is time for government agencies to review legacy IT systems and consider technologies that will help streamline operations, adapt to evolving stakeholder requirements, and focus spend on bringing relevant, quality services to their constituents more quickly.
We as consumers understand that without Google and other search engine sites, it would be practically impossible to find the information we need when performing web queries. For a typical search, there are thousands, even millions, of web pages with potentially relevant information. And in large part to this advancement technology, gone are the days where we will accept irrelevant search results.
Like all search engines, Google uses a special algorithm to generate search results. However, even though this technology has existed, it has not been utilized to manage the search queries on other websites until recently. Google's Site Search brings the same search technology that powers Google.com to other corporate websites, delivering relevant results with lightning speed. It also allows visitors to quickly solve their issues which can then help relieve organizations of their customer service bandwidth issues.
And with the amount of dated documentation available on most government websites, leveraging a third-party search technology to manage their constituent's site queries has become necessary. As consumers of information, we expect the most relevant information yielded quickly, and technology has now made it possible for all government agencies to meet our expectations.
Apple's influence on innovation goes beyond simply the iPhone. These days, most conversations surrounding technology involve machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) as the next frontiers. On mobile, Apple was the first to jump on the boat with its Siri virtual assistant that debuted with the iPhone 4s. And quickly Apple has pushed this technology into some of their other platforms including Apple TV and the Apple Watch.
And while they were seen as the flag-bearer, Siri was soon followed by Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Now there are estimates that show the number of households using virtual assistants will grow at least 25 percent in 2018. And because of their mainstream proliferation, most notably due to the marketshare that Apple has in the handheld device market, we as consumers have gotten accustomed to having the answers to our questions instantaneously.
And the adoption of these platforms is not just contained to consumer households; AI and virtual assistant technology will dominate enterprise IT strategies in 2018. However, this level of speed and efficiency is not something that all government organizations are ready to provide. AI tools that drive innovation, should be adopted by government to provide more internal efficiency, which will then drive better constituent experiences and outcomes.
We have all been told that good things come in small packages. And in today's fast-paced world, that includes the content and information we consume. We live in an age where attention spans are diminishing and the volume of published content is rising. To be able to capture and keep the attention of your audience is no small feat.
Organizations often complain that their messages are getting lost in the shuffle, Social media platforms like Snapchat have become the mainstream solution to solving this problem. In a "go, go, go" society where time is precious, we have drastically changed our communication habits, large part due to the rise of platforms that make is easy to create and distribute these short-form messages.
It is crucial for organizations to match these changing habits and deliver concise and relevant messages to their constituents to break through the clutter and be heard.
There's no shortage of industry buzz surrounding robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other next-generation technologies. While some of these are still coming into their own, robotic process automation (RPA) is quickly proving to be a valuable component to process automation.
And Appian partner, Blue Prism, is proving to be an industry leader in this field. So what is RPA? Simply put, it is a computer program operating as a recording of human interaction. It records activities like typing, checking for errors, and cutting and pasting between applications. Once the recording is created, logic can also be added as needed. The technology then can be strategically implemented to streamline the administrative process by enabling the computer to execute basic tasks that then can free resources, time and capital.
Like many agencies in today's government, they have faced budget reductions and limited resources. However, the mission still needs to be achieved. And while this technology is automating internal processes, the yield is what is benefitting the constituents.
Process time can be reduced dramatically, while also decreasing human errors within these processes, which means cases are resolved for constituents quicker. And in today's environment, that is exactly what we as consumers expect.
Tech advances that are driving consumer, corporate and constituent expectations are coming from all directions. That is why it has become imperative for 2018 that organizations move to a technology platform that is agile enough to support both current and future demands for a modern experience. Being able to quickly integrate into the latest innovations driving constituent behaviors and expectations has never been more important.
By adopting a technology platform that can easily evolve with mission requirements, agencies will be well-positioned to integrate new technology innovations that constituent expectations continue to drive.
Beyond just the ability to speed the development of high-performing modern applications, the Appian platform itself can break the cyclical modernization pattern experienced by federal agencies, that tend to lead to extended timelines that go over budget. This platform will facilitate continuous and perpetual evolution of applications and permanently shield them from becoming obsolete and costly.
With all this innovation happening at such a rapid pace, 2018 is certain to be an exciting year of digital transformation within Federal agencies. As we prepare to kickoff the new year, I invite you to learn more about how Appian is helping government organizations to transform, and check out highlights from our recent Appian Federal Forum.
Industry Marketing Lead - Public Sector
Appian is the unified platform for change. We accelerate customers’ businesses by discovering, designing, and automating their most important processes. The Appian Low-Code Platform combines the key capabilities needed to get work done faster, Process Mining + Workflow + Automation, in a unified low-code platform. Appian is open, enterprise-grade and trusted by industry leaders.