As governments around the world look to the use of technology to better serve their citizens, recent research claims that the UK may become the world's leading "e-Government" if it can meet anticipated growth in demand for internet accessibility.
In a study titled 'At the Dawn of e-Government: The Citizen as Customer', public service institute, Deloitte Research evaluated the approach to customer service of more than 250 state-level government departments in Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
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Its findings reveal that in this country, some 41 per cent of net users are predicted to use the internet as their primary means to access government services by 2002 - a 424 per cent increase from the current level of 8 per cent.
The study also shows that some 60 per cent of British government agencies currently have both electronic self-service options and customer relationship management processes in place, putting the UK higher than other governments when compared to the global averages of 53 per cent and 47 per cent respectively.
"Customers are driving the e-Government explosion. Their expectations have been heightened as a result of experiences with private sector organisations such as on-line financial services, retailers and travel agents," comments Richard Granger, Deloitte Consulting partner, Public Sector Europe. "As customers of these organisations, they are receiving one-stop shopping and more rapid service. Not surprisingly, as tax payers they are now demanding similar access to, and speed of service, from the government."
During the research, the internet was identified as the top technology for the next two years by 70 per cent of UK government agencies, while 40 per cent believed technology to be the solution to improving customer service. Following the UK in terms of the percentage of customers predicted to prefer on-line access to government services by 2002 are Canada (40 per cent), Australia (34 per cent), the US (31 per cent) and New Zealand (24 per cent).