Communication
May 7, 2012

How can government optimize constituent communications

With the initial Internet boom of the 1990s now firmly behind us, we can begin to take for granted some of the considerable benefits that emerged in its wake. We are more interconnected, and have access to more information than ever before.

But it seems that, for every technology-derived triumph, another challenge arises. The number of channels for communication multiplies but delivering the right message to the right audience only becomes more vexing. Mountains of data grow larger and richer yet more difficult to manage, particularly in an age when resources are often stretched.

 

New technologies present a special set of concerns for government organizations. How can agencies meet rising citizen expectations while controlling costs? For executives, the answer lies in finding new ways of leveraging existing data and resources without having to scrap existing IT infrastructure.

Placed in this context, today’s federal government agencies must face up to two imperatives if they are to truly thrive. They must re-invent the ways in which their internal bureaucracy functions while also re-thinking the way they interact with the citizens they serve.

On a broad level, it is critical for federal government agencies to come to terms with their staggering reservoirs of information. It is necessary for their communication processes to keep pace with their IT infrastructure. And it is crucial for them to move toward an ethos of integrated information and services, recasting themselves as a single “enterprise” rather than a conglomeration of disparate agencies.

As funding demands balloon, agencies are forced to focus on only the most essential IT projects. Any underlying technology must support a revolution in business processes, work flows, security, data integration and management, online account management, and customer communication management.

Back to our original question: How can government agencies re-invent their internal bureaucracy and re-think the way they interact with citizens? By utilizing the latest customer intelligence software, agencies can create a single, high-definition view of their customers. Consequently, they can communicate more effectively within, make more informed decisions, and increase customer – or shall we say citizen – satisfaction.

Ultimately, any serious e-government initiative must address issues on four fronts:

e-Services: finding a better way to electronically deliver government information, programs and servicese-Management: streamlining the way the government operates by using IT to enable new business processes, integrate data and improve communication flowe-Democracy: using IT and communications to increase citizen participation in policy decision-makinge-Exchange: empowering people to make transactions – from paying taxes to buying government surplus equipment – through electronic channels. Customer intelligence software has much to offer on all these fronts. For now, let’s focus on three particularly challenging areas for government agencies and consider how software solutions can help overcome them.

Data quality
Federal government agencies have access to massive amounts of data about the citizens they serve. The question is, what are they doing to leverage this data? Also, in what form does it exist and who can easily access it? In many cases, important information is in hand but it exists in silos where key personnel are unable to tap into it. No matter its potential, inaccessible data is of dubious value.

Consider a situation in which three different law enforcement agencies are working on the same case – or three different cases that might lead to the same suspect. If key information – previous criminal records, incident locations, etc. – is isolated in silos, enforcement efforts may stall. With one federated view of data infrastructure (both old and new) accessible to all authorized parties, the chances of apprehending a suspect suddenly rise.
 
Customer data can be an organization’s most important asset, so the quality of that data is of the highest consequence. Data quality software can help agencies manage all their information, capturing it accurately and completely in a timely manner and in a consistent format. Such software can also free it from silos, making it accessible to all authorized users.

All told, data quality software assists agencies with capturing and collecting source data; data integration, or combining from multiple, disparate sources; data profiling; data cleansing; and data augmentation and enhancement, the process of enriching internally collected information with that from external sources.

With data quality software, government agencies can create an accurate view of their customers and then integrate that intelligence into business operations. They can pinpoint opportunities in order to improve targeting, streamline operations and generate more effective communications.

Document creation
Organizations in the public and private sector spend billions of dollars every year on document creation. But where does all that money – and all that paper – go? Sometimes, they themselves may be hard-pressed to answer the question.

Show me a database in which 15 percent of the customer addresses are bad and I will show you an organization that is wasting enormous amounts of time, money and energy. But show me an agency that’s using the latest document creation software and I’ll show you an organization producing documents in less time with fewer resources while still achieving the desired results.

Whether your agency is dealing with simple letters, full-color mailers, statements or messages within a statement, you need the capability to develop documents quickly, collaborate with other users, reuse content and maintain consistency throughout your organization. Document creation software makes it easy to create in print or electronic formats and deliver across multiple channels.

The impact of producing more organized, personalized, effective content can be felt far down the line. While streamlined operations help an agency function better internally and save significant amounts of money, citizens will appreciate better quality of service – e.g., fewer follow-up calls – inevitably leading to higher satisfaction and loyalty rates.

Location intelligence
Some estimates contend that approximately 80 percent of all business data has a geographical element to it. Agencies that know how to leverage that location component can unlock the potential of their existing information and reap enormous benefits.

By using the right analytic capabilities, organizations can access sophisticated spatial analysis tools, transforming business intelligence into location intelligence. This means an agency can geographically analyze, measure and compare data from operations in conjunction with external data such as network-asset locations, citizen characteristics, revenue trending, and demographics.

Some examples of what location intelligence empowers key government decision-makers to do:
Centralize tax jurisdiction processes while ensuring complianceSuccessfully manage public assets and projectsImprove public safety and law enforcement, as well as disaster preparednessShare data with citizens via simple, cost-effective solutions (e.g., self-service web portals).

Government leaders, planners and analysts around the world use location intelligence to plan sustainable growth, improve

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