Last March, we published The Future Of Business Is Digital and predicted that all businesses must evolve to become digital businesses. Since then, many CIOs in government agencies have asked about the role of digital in government. And yesterday, on The White House Blog, the president made it clear where he stands: The future of government is digital!

In announcing the creation of the US Digital Service, President Obama is reinforcing the need to bring greater agility to federal technology management in service of citizen taxpayers who foot the bill.

"A core part of the President’s Management Agenda is improving the value we deliver to citizens through Federal IT. That’s why, today, the Administration is formally launching the U.S. Digital Service. The Digital Service will be a small team made up of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with agencies to remove barriers to exceptional service delivery and help remake the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government."

The White House also announced the release of the Digital Services Playbook, outlining 13 digital service "plays" (strategies and principles) for federal CIOs to adopt:

Digital Service Plays

  1. Understand what people need.
  2. Address the whole experience, from start to finish.
  3. Make it simple and intuitive.
  4. Build the service using agile and iterative practices.
  5. Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery.
  6. Assign one leader and hold that person accountable.
  7. Bring in experienced teams.
  8. Choose a modern technology stack.
  9. Deploy in a flexible hosting environment.
  10. Automate testing and deployments.
  11. Manage security and privacy through reusable processes.
  12. Use data to drive decisions.
  13. Default to open.

What I like about this declaration toward digital is the linkage to digital best practices found through our research:

  1. Begin with the customer experience . . . and put what they need in the context of their desires (don't ask what they need, instead ask what are they trying to do).
  2. Digitize the end-to-end customer experience.
  3. Digitize products and services inside the customer’s value ecosystem
  4. Create trusted machines to scale the customer experience
  5. Digitize for agility over efficiency
  6. Drive rapid customer centric innovation
  7. Source enhanced operational capabilities within a dynamic ecosystem
  8. Reduce the pain / increase the pleasure, while saving time.
  9. Deliver the minimum viable product, then repeat.

But what's missing? Well, my initial impression is that the digital service "plays" need greater emphasis placed on achieving specific and measurable outcomes and not just digitizing for the sake of it. What would you add?

(You may also be interested in the UK's version of the US Digital Service, – perhaps the inspiration for the US initiative).

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