Driving further adoption of e-Government with Analytics

September 23, 2009


We focus a good deal of our time talking about the lessons learned in the public sector and how they apply to e-Government. I was fortunate to have had an opportunity to contribute some of our views to Business and Technology recently and I’m re-posting the article on my blog as well. Please feel free to share your opinions and thoughts.

The original article can be found here: Business & Technology

Citizens cast a vote every time they visit a government web site – but not for a candidate or ballot measure. Rather, they are indicating what they need from their government and how well the government is meeting their needs. While these votes may not be as purposeful or explicit as a check mark on an election ballot, they do offer a directive that can be quantified and used to improve government services.

With interaction in a Government domain, four main activities take place; information is shared across the internet, a two-way communication between the agency and the citizen is established, online transactions and online governance is conducted.

When citizens can’t find what they need on a government web site, they often end up calling help lines or visiting government offices, increasing agency service costs and the frustration of these citizens.

Mass adoption of e-Government

As many government agencies have discovered, e-government services are not a field of dreams that once built, people will come to and embrace. Even when several federal government web sites have managed to gain awareness, online registration begins to dwindle after years of growth and web developers are unable to uncover the reason for the decline.

Web analytics are a crucial tool in helping organization and government agencies gather additional insight that help identify online communications opportunities and goals.

An experienced web analytics partner, dedicated to e-government solutions, will be able to provide invaluable analytics insight and consultative guidance to better understand and serve diverse audiences online with the efficiency, transparency and interactive engagement that is increasingly expected.

Key to good web analytics is a system which provides short-term and ongoing assistance, in compliance with privacy policies, facilitate agencies in understanding citizens’ changing needs, and provide a simplified view of analyzing sophisticated data.

Adapting to Citizens’ needs

As the Gen Y, a term coined for people born in the late 1980s, enters the workforce and attain voting rights, e-Government portals will witness a surge in usage from this “online savvy” population. Being well-versed in the workings of the internet, this generation of adults will demand faster, well-tailored and interactive mobile and websites from the government.

Web Analytics help drive site optimization and precise segmentation by offering the most accurate and current visitor information, enabling agencies to continuously adapt their web sites to the evolving needs and preferences of their audience. It helps identify and determine the needs of different citizen groups, including differences in the online services or assistance sought by people in different districts.

Individualized tracking also helps web analytics to determine and advice on tailored usage of the website. Each unique visitor is identified and determined by the click-level on any number of links, promotions or content, and this result is used to help determine which web site pages and elements are attracting most attention and driving traffic most efficiently.

Citizen-driven site optimization can save visitors time and encourages increased use of online services. It can also reduce follow-up calls to telephone support or in-person requests at government offices.

Privacy policy compliance

While it is ideal to be able to freely attain and store visitors’ information for web analytics, government agencies face extreme pressure to maintain the privacy and security of the citizen data online. Government agencies should maintain complete control and ownership of all customer data, and be able to tailor information gathering according to the needs and privacy expectations of their visitors.

A on-premise software or On Demand software as a service (SaaS) has been shown to be viable method which enables agencies to secure the data collected using user IDs and passwords, and even biometric security appliances. Agencies should also ensure that its Web Analytics provider undergoes a third-party security audit on a frequent basis.

Another issue on eGovernment web analytics which has gained some media attention is the proper use of cookies in government web sites, allegedly some of which has been reported as a violation of regulations. Cookies are small text files containing a long unique string of characters given to web browser by the web server. This file is sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server, identifying users as unique and tying together their actions. There are procedures to follow to gain exception to technology guidelines and agencies are encouraged to gain a thorough understanding of the documents with their assigned governing body.

Web analytics solution providers offer customers a broad range of alternatives ranging from using no cookies, using session-based cookies, using session parameters or using persistent cookies. Unique first-party cookies are the most accurate and privacy-conscious method of visitor identification for both software and hosted solutions. In place of a third-party cookie, which is served to the visitor’s browser by a web analytics vendor, a first-party cookie is served to the visitor’s browser directly from the web site’s domain.

Third-party cookies are increasingly blocked from being set on user’s machines due to settings in web browsers and other applications, so by utilizing a first-party cookie, the server can ensure more accurate metrics and minimize privacy concerns.

Making sophisticated analytics manageable

Being able to measure and quantify site traffic requires certain computational techniques and IT tools, but the ability to simplify and analyse the data obtained in a context relevant to government agencies demands a dedicated team of consultants who work exclusively with government agencies and organizations. Being versed in the analytics and communications challenges that governments face today, they can provide short-term and ongoing assistance in the essential areas.

With the current advancement in the web analytics industry, government agencies should expect the following from their vendor.

* Governance: Best practices for capturing and maintaining data consistently and producing accurate analysis
* Key Performance Indicator (KPI): Metrics that help align web site investments with agency goals, and provide objective measures of web site success
* Scorecards: Combined performance data from online and offline sources to get a more holistic view of web site visitors
* Reports: Customized overviews of the data and services trends which allow every member of an organization to dynamically filter, drill into and query their reports in an interactive reporting console.
* Dashboards: Keep up to date on important performance data and metrics in one single vie
* Analytics adoption: Training and guidance for individuals throughout the organization on how to access analytics data and create reports
* Independent analytics: Advanced training and guidance on how to access data and create reports without assistance from technicians or analysts

* Link: businesstechnology.in//2009/09/22/Web-Analytics-to-drive-further-adoption-of-e-Government.1.html


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