What I learned in 2011

So, the year is nearly out.  I’ve had a really productive twelve months but fear that it could be a bumpy ride ahead.  On one hand there are some really exciting developments, such as the formation of GDS.  I have to admit that there is finally the right mindset among influential people to make digital engagement compelling and subsequently more user centric – so we might actually be able to increase trust and ROI.  There’s good stuff happening all over the public and private sector (check out the new Guardian open newslist), stimulated by plenty of innovation funds and broadband investment.

On the flipside, some good people left some good places – like the man Gez Smith from Delib and Andy Willaimson from Hansard.  Perhaps these manoeuvres will come good.  The squeeze at the local level has left gaps – particularly in the corporate centre.  This has resulted in a lack of drive for digital transformation among some authorities and a tendency to ‘tread water’ on more pioneering projects.

I learned that there was innovation all around but limited understanding of how to become effective.  Too often the good engagement practice is sidelined – be it the emphasis on feedback from a consultation or building-in good practice into software design, such as structuring a petition prayer or managing expectations.  In a way the avalanche of new innovation is having a blanked turn-off effect as bad experiences multiply.

By comparison, I have previously been under the impression that the public sector was leading the way in terms of open data, digital democracy and engagement.  Truth is, I’m beginning to doubt myself.  The private sector is better at harnessing customer insight, channelling real-time feedback and capturing our imagination.  Fizzback  is a great example of this.

Let’s make customer experience a digital priority for 2012.

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