Digital Gov’ Barometer 2017: France’s incredible digital public service
For the third consecutive year, Sopra Steria and Ipsos have led a study on the expectations of citizens regarding the State’s digital services. With more than 4,000 respondents, the study was carried out in France, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Germany.
The first shared key point to note from these interviews concerns the connected populations in demand of a higher level of digitalisation from their public services. As eager as they were last year, one third of European citizens are just as keen to use online services. We’ll now give a quick overview of the situation at home and away, between different behaviours, expectations, concerns, and confidence.
A positive situation
The current observation is encouraging. According to two thirds of citizens, the digital services offered by the French administration are advanced. Whilst Norway is still the country with the highest satisfaction level with 75% of positive responses, France is second in rank with 66%, ahead of Great Britain with 64% and Germany with 42%.
The satisfaction is there, whether male or female, old or young, urban or rural, employed or unemployed.
In a second observation, public services can still offer tools advanced as in the private sector. In a move to adopt more “on demand” style services, 70% of respondents consider administrative bodies to be as efficient as private services. Regarding the quest for digitalisation, France can be proud: the British are in second place with 66%, followed by the Norwegians with 60%, and lastly Germany with 48%.
And for one last piece of good news: the respondents, from all countries, confirmed that their State had developed more online services and that they were easier to use. 85% of Norwegian respondents have noticed the changes, whilst the French are a close second with 84%. Whilst the populations are welcoming the effort made, only two thirds of French respondents feel that the services are easier to use. All in all, creating new tools is commendable, but making them easy to use only slowing appearing over the horizon.
Whilst today the respondents are satisfied with the situation, they have still noted a gap between their use of the internet and the possibilities offered by their public services.
High expectations from the French towards their administration
87%. This is the number of French citizens who are ready to use more online services. 89% of Germans and Norwegians feel the same way, followed by 88% of British respondents.
In France, the enthusiasm is widespread. 8 to 9 French nationals out of 10 want to see digital solutions in the public service being developed. But they don’t only want this development, they demand it, with 70% judging it as priority.
What are the areas of development? Healthcare deserves the most attention (38%), followed by employment (35%) and personal information (33%). Occupational accidents or changes in situation are the services in need of the most changes to make practices easier and be accessible to everyone.
If the results are encouraging, it’s also because nearly half the population thinks that the government will be able to speed up this transformation.
Simplifying these approaches is the ultimate focus of digital development. But this cannot and must not take place without consulting citizens. This second level of development will be strategic, provided that it comes with suitable guidance to avoid a potential digital divide, and to give meaning to digitalisation. The digitalisation of public services is a real challenge for the future, as it serves the ambition to transform the administration.
Needs prioritised according to the sectors
This appetite for digital services isn’t only a sign of change in behaviour, it’s also expected to solve the problems encountered by the populations.
A change in situation or a citizen-led approach are the two positions judged as being a priority in the digitalisation of solutions. With “life’s moments”, such as purely administrative procedures being the most common, it’s only natural that 82% of French nationals put them first.
On the one hand, it’s an approach that requires fewer outings and that can be done when we want. On the other, it’s simpler and saves time when requests are made. Below we will see the four benefits of digitalisation according to the countries in the survey. Whilst the different needs expressed do diverge, all come together to underline the main advantage of the internet: flexibility.
To keep with their expressions, users expects their public service to function according to the “one gateway – one record” method. Together, these data compile 93% of the territory’s citizens. The demand is as follows: create a single access gateway across all services with just one record per person, including all the elements of their everyday life.
Beyond meeting practical needs, the political dimension also makes sense. The first benefit of digitalising the French administration according to the citizens surveyed concerns controlling fraud, as well as modernising services and remaining competitive.
If this is a big upgrade, it’s because 30% of the French feel that their services are less efficient than the rest of Europe.
Certain limits around usage
Whilst the French are satisfied and encouraging, there are some points that have to be improved to achieve optimal usage.
The majority of citizens (67%) fear that digital services present a threat to their data protection.
Another obstacle is felt in regard to understanding the harmful effects of digitalising tools, such as the exclusion of populations due to the digital divide, for the user as well as the public agent.
Once these barriers have been lifted, the problem of frequency still remains. In 2017, the majority of the population used digital services once every 6 months, or less. We can only hope that the more information is accessible via the internet, the more they will be used.
Committed to renewing its administration, the French State is supported by its co-citizens in the willingness to make things happen. There are a few obstacles to be overcome, but the desire, as well as the expectation, is there. Citizens are ready for the digital transformation of their public services, they just need to be developed quickly, and prioritised to meet to their needs: ‘make my life simpler, and take my personal situation into account’ – loud and clear, this is the message of the French.