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EXCLUSIVE: John Mackenney, Principal Digital Strategist, APAC, Adobe, on Public Sector Strategies to Develop Digital Solutions to Enhance Citizen Experience

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Citizen Experience is one of the most essential parts to create an effective government. Unfortunately, citizen experience with government agencies is still a far cry from the seamless, personalised engagements that citizens demand. Getting information or accessing services from government agencies online was a tedious process and often remains a frustrating experience.

Pushed online, the pandemic forced businesses to ramp up their digital offerings and virtual transactions. Used to private sector service,  citizens’ expectations and demands of their government have has escalated astronomically.

Against this backdrop, the public sector must now rethink how best to serve citizens through citizen-centric digital offerings. In addition, governments need an effective strategy to deliver private sector level digital services.

Adobe is helping revolutionise public sector agencies through cutting-edge digital transactions. Great citizen experiences have the power to inspire, transform and revitalise agencies. Adobe connects content and data, introduces new technologies that democratise creativity, shape the next generation of storytelling and inspire entirely new business categories.

OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to John Mackenney, Principal Digital Strategist, Asia-Pacific, Adobe. The company has been helping major corporates across various industries to improve the digital experience for their customers.

John has adapted professional transformation from a successful career in senior finance roles to become a true digital transformation expert.  He advises senior leadership at Adobe on strategies for customer or citizen experience transformation and digital innovation in his current role. John brings a wealth of knowledge in industry development and practical implementation experience to help customers devise comprehensive transformation programmes.

When looking at citizen experience in the public sector, John conceded that several factors come into play. Expectations of citizens are growing exponentially given the standard has been set by private sectors, especially banks and retail outlets.

However, citizen experience with the public sector is highly fragmented and diverse. Every department has a different standard operating procedure, platform and interface – often making citizens confused and left with conflicting information.

While online services were already being rolled out before COVID-19, the pandemic has exacerbated the situation and accelerated timelines. John strongly feels that public sector agencies have to get consistent timely information to people in a normal situation –  much more so during a pandemic.

Another challenge for the public sector is that citizens across the globe have become time-poor – meaning they have less available time. From a purely economic productivity perspective, John is convinced that government agencies need to change the way they interact with their citizens by making the services more efficient.

And this is what the big picture is for Adobe – developing technologies that help government agencies to provide information to citizens in an efficient, effective, timely and contextualised way.

Each department in each agency has its unique mandate and functionalities and citizens do not usually understand the intricacy of every one of these departments. To ease the confusion and complexity, Adobe has developed technological solutions that provide a consistent experience across departments.

Providing informative and engaging content is also critical as citizens have to interact with multiple government departments for a wide range of needs – from personal to professional to commercial. Services could range from a birth certificate to a marriage license or business documentation.

Adobe offers a common capability to get messaging out for any department. They understand that every department is at a different point in their digital transformation journey and have tailored their digital solutions accordingly. They have a consistent way to manage information across major life events in a single place.

Singapore is a great example for John, as the nation was an early leader in several areas in the public sector digital transformation landscape – such as its analytics capability. However, other governments are pushing the envelope with their digital services. For example, Canada and Australia are evolving more quickly in understanding complex omnichannel environments.

John touched on the topic of personalisation and thinks that the term is misunderstood in government. Personalisation in public sectors should mean that information is delivered contextually. Government agencies should provide relevant information based on a citizen’s specific needs. For example, if someone is unemployed and looking for a job, agencies can provide information about available jobs or courses on reskilling.

John believes that personalisation goes further in government than private sectors. Government has the responsibility of equity – to make sure everyone has access to what is needed and ensure that no one is left behind within society. For instance, agencies need to customise the experience of people with disabilities who have different needs – be it learning, commuting, or working.

Three elements of technologies are necessary to deliver personalisation – content, context and experience delivery. Governments need to utilise data to help citizens through various stages in their life journey. They must create personalised content based on different citizens’ needs within the context of their life stage. This will impact and influence the way data is collected, stored and analysed to generate actionable insights.

In the end, John urges governments to change their mindset when it comes to services delivery in a digital world – moving from fixating on one big project to adopting a continuous improvement paradigm. Technologies will evolve and get better, so governments must set up the right infrastructure and suitable workforce to absorb and utilise tech as it becomes available. Additionally, they must continuously invest in the right technology and look to improve every day with focus and spend on digital skills, digital enablement and digital literacy of citizens


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