By Ray Bauer, Managing Director of Advanced Solutions, Verizon
Government agencies have known for years that meeting the needs of citizens is no easy feat. Today, that truth is becoming increasingly clear. The coronavirus pandemic challenges agencies to deliver critical information and services to constituents faster and more effectively than ever before. For example, the state of New York alone saw a 16,000% increase in web traffic from those looking for information about unemployment applications during some peak weeks, according to the state’s Department of Labor.
In the wake of a crisis, ensuring seamless digital experiences requires unprecedented speed, accuracy and accessibility. As a result, government workers need modernized technology to do their jobs quickly and efficiently. Failure to provide these tools not only impacts productivity, but it can also compromise an agency’s ability to attract and retain top talent. Plus, as public sector employees continue to work remotely, the need for scalable infrastructure, cloud storage and security solutions only increases as agencies seek to provide the best services to their constituents even at a distance.
A Need for Speed and Scalability
Of course, many government agencies were already on the path to digital transformation before COVID-19. A global pandemic, however, ups the ante, creating an urgency for government agencies to provide the technology required to meet a higher-than-usual volume of citizen requests. Consequently, many organizations have begun to rely on managed services to create positive constituent experiences — without burdening in-house IT teams.
Consider, for example, the importance of network performance. Shortly after announcing that all bars and restaurants would be restricted to serving takeout only, Oregon’s unemployment claims system crashed from the sudden uptick in usage. Fortunately, with managed services, government agencies can accommodate unanticipated spikes in network traffic by changing server capacity as needed. Cloud resources are simply added or removed based on current demands without requiring any heavy lifting on the part of IT.
In addition to supporting surge requirements, managed services’ scalability allows government agencies to better prioritize traffic. In the wake of COVID-19, some agencies even configured their networks to treat online constituent claims with the same speed and urgency as 911-related traffic.
A Data-driven Approach to Pandemic Response
Creating top-notch experiences requires understanding—and anticipating— constituent and employee needs. For some agencies, that means predicting which mobile apps remote workers are most likely to use. For others, it entails accurately anticipating gaps in healthcare services. Data analytics promises to play an increasingly important role as government agencies deploy contact tracing apps to curb the spread of COVID-19.
However, data comes at a cost when it is not managed effectively. Siloed data, often scattered across disparate databases, can prevent government IT teams from gleaning meaningful insights. Managed services can help remedy this situation by centralizing vast volumes of data in a data center within a managed cloud network. By doing so, agencies can better parse their data to detect patterns in constituent behavior and preferences. For example, by conducting a series of qualitative and quantitative research studies, the Department of Veteran Affairs discovered specific hurdles constituents faced when navigating the VA.gov website. Armed with this data, the agency redesigned the site to create a more personalized and user-friendly digital experience.
From Support to Innovation
COVID-19 has forever changed the way people interact with companies and service providers. A study by artificial intelligence technology provider DeviceBits discovered an 86% increase in customer self-support sessions— when a person leveraged an AI-driven, web-based frequently-asked-questions components — from January 1 to May 31. What’s more, interactive sessions with chatbots increased by a staggering 98.5%.
Now, constituents and employees are demanding the same type of real-time, contactless interactions with government agencies. Managed services can help the public sector meet these demands. By monitoring and managing network security, a managed services approach ensures self-service applications stay up to date, properly configured and secure against cyberthreats. Agencies also rely on managed services’ reliable network performance and connectivity to keep online services up and running.
Beyond technology, a managed services team’s specialized expertise can be a catalyst for innovation. For example, an increasing number of government agencies are deploying federated identity management systems and enabling single sign-on solutions to enhance employee experience and boost productivity.
Click here to find out how Verizon’s team of experts can help you meet constituent needs during this challenging time.
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This content is made possible by our sponsor Verizon; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of GovExec’s editorial staff.