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Government Digital Services Are Better, But Powerful Models Are Largely Untapped

Users See Big Room for Improvement, According to New BCG Research

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwired) -- 06/05/14 -- Getting better, but still plenty of room for improvement: that's the current assessment by everyday users of their governments' delivery of online services, according to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Digital Government: Turning the Rhetoric into Reality.

On the basis of a survey of 12,450 users in 12 countries about their experiences with, and opinions of, 37 different types of services, BCG found that the public sector has made good progress in digital service delivery, but most countries are not moving nearly as quickly as users would like. Developing countries lead in the rate of online usage, although most of them trail developed nations in user satisfaction.

Almost 95 percent of the respondents have used at least one online government service in the past two years. An average of 32 percent use online government services more than once a week. Already, at least half of users in most of the countries surveyed want digital channels to play a greater role in the delivery of key services. On average, 60 percent of users rank online government services as important.

Satisfaction rates are generally high -- but they could be much higher. The percentage of users who are satisfied with government services online ranges from 41 percent in Russia and Malaysia to 61 percent in the U.S. Generally, developed countries have more satisfied users than developing nations. Satisfaction falls away and frustrations rise among more digitally experienced younger users, who have higher expectations for the online experience, and among people who try to engage in more sophisticated tasks and transactions.

"Many governments are already well on the way to improving digital service delivery, but there is often a gap between rhetoric and reality," said Miguel Carrasco, a BCG partner and coauthor of the report. "Users are conditioned to expect innovative online services in such sectors as retailing, media, and financial services, and they wish that their governments would get on with it."

Many of the services that can be accessed online provide only information and forms, but users are looking to get help and transact business. The breadth and depth of demand will increase substantially in the next few years -- breadth in terms of both numbers of users and the range of services they wish to access online, as well as depth in terms of how much these users want to do, the devices they want to use, and the increasing sophistication of the interactions in which they seek to engage.

"Governments can make a big impact by focusing on services that are most important yet satisfaction is lowest," Carrasco said. "In most countries, this will mean services related to health, education, social welfare, and visas and immigration. Governments also should walk in their citizens' shoes and make services easy to access and use."

The countries surveyed include Australia, Denmark, France, Indonesia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, and the U.S. The report details the following:

  • Some of the services users find least satisfying are those they consider the most important, including those related to health, immigration, welfare, and justice.
  • Users in developing countries access more services online and access them more frequently. Users in these countries also place greater importance on online service delivery.
  • Although there are wide variations among countries, governments generally compare well with the private sector. People like what governments are doing; they want them to do more.
  • Governments face changing patterns of usage and demand. The Millennial generation -- 18 to 34 year olds, who now outnumber baby boomers -- have higher expectations than older generations. Millennials are the most frequent but least satisfied users of online services.
  • Governments need to design services to work across different platforms and devices. More users are accessing services on laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Future usage will trend toward more tablets and Internet-enabled TVs.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at www.bcgperspectives.com.

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or [email protected].

About The Boston Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 81 offices in 45 countries. For more information, please visit bcg.com.

About bcgperspectives.com
Bcgperspectives.com features the latest thinking from BCG experts as well as from CEOs, academics, and other leaders. It covers issues at the top of senior management's agenda. It also provides unprecedented access to BCG's extensive archive of thought leadership stretching back 50 years to the days of Bruce Henderson, the firm's founder and one of the architects of modern management consulting. All of our content -- including videos, podcasts, commentaries, and reports -- can be accessed by PC, mobile, iPad, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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