Archives for category: public policy

Here’s the mashable take… I disagree. PR metrics based on # of gmail users who woke up last week, and found the gBuzz tab with all these unapproved followers set by some unapproved arbiter somewhere in Mountain View, is marketing being promoted as truth.

Each “social” tool (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) is architected differently for a clear and different business and user need. For example, Twitter – 140 char limit, API architecture enabling a huge ecosystem to develop – was by design based on a business need and gap identified. FB is at least perceived by end users as “semi-closed” as I “think” I have user control on the platform, and assume no default actions impacting my data will be taken without prior consent and notification (although they too had find out the hard way with many missteps). But all this is past history and common knowledge and, moreover, both Twitter and FB are social platforms.

The email channel and platform is different. Emails (unlike blog posting, FB status update, Twitter, etc.) can be analogous to phone conversations, making it subject to even stricter scrutiny over control and privacy. Has Google not learned from their social competitors and frenemies?  Has it really become that much of a gBubble?

They truly messed up on the roll out of gBuzz last week by unnecessarily exposing this issue, and are correcting the trust issue with PR and updates now. We can now add them to the growing “loss of customer trust” list of United, Toyota, etc.  What’s unsettling is that this should have been so obvious from the start. With all the data Google manages, is it wrong to hold them to a higher standard than a typical start-up now? If gBuzz simply had been introduced like a standalone offering (e.g. like Gmail was slowly nurtured) that allowed the end user to walk through who to import/add, how to integrate with Gmail, what to set on content, etc. it would have completely changed the dynamic. Sneakily showing up as a Trojan Horse in Gmail, exposing email addresses, without any user notification or authorization was the easy road to take to gain immediate market share. However it was paid with a major hit to core of the Google brand – user trust. Trust takes years to develop, but can be destroyed in a nano-second.

The implied assumption is that I trust Google to manage my data in a way that ensures all PII data is masked. This has been the standard Google has set internally and externally since day one. In return for this handover of trust, Google generates a very profitable keyword advertising business, along with side products that further create vendor lock in and revenue. That trust assumption was heavily challenged by the errors last week and it just served to re-trigger further debates raging now over Google (and the internet in general) on ownership control and privacy concerns.

I agree, gBuzz will not fade as its embedded in the mighty Google twin pillars of Search and Email. Maybe this issue will fade fast as everyone turns the page (“nothing to see here, move along”) and I give kudos in that senior management recognized almost immediately, albeit retroactively. There is clearly plenty of time to recover, and I imagine this will fade, but something was definitely malfunctioning in Mountain View last week. Oh yea… and “never waste a crises”.


New Yorker article on China’s “863 Program” sounds like 90’s Fed “Advanced Technology Program” (or “TIP” now)

Most early stage public websites were initially agency-focused as the imperative during this period was to provide information about their respective organizational structure, functions, and services via the online channel. This design approach relied upon the service requester to have effective research skills across many public functions to understand what services were available where, and under what circumstances they applied. In other words, this wave on online public portals were agency-centric and not customer-centric. However, increasingly, public service value is now being seen as best created at a cross-organization level, across agency boundaries, functions, services, and channels.

One important area of focus in intentions based design is on bundling related functions and services by similar areas (the meta-data) to create integrated set of applicable services. In the private sector, this is often the standard sales delivery model for small to medium sized busineses. A public sector example of this, is a grouping of applicable public services by demographic profile (e.g. seniors, students, etc.) whereby, based on your demographic profile, the end user is navigated to the suite of services and/or either provided self service online tools to aggregate these, or is transferred to a specialist trained in this service area (which can either be a follow up call, direct online “immediate call back” transfer similar to that used in Amazon’s Call Center, or via online chat, to name a few).

Another major area of focus in designing an intentions based portal is integrating the various channels to support a single interaction, the recipient of which is recognized and receives the same treatment regardless of which channel he or she uses. The “landing page” of the public portal a critical aspect of this aggregation and integration, and needs to be synchronized with the data stored in various legacy systems and, ideally, also has access to centralized call center to provide human based support (note: this can be now be supported with many new and emerging technologies at a much lower cost structure, should the business case identify this need).

When incorporating an intentions based design, it is critical to have a single point of contact to manage the interaction (either via the web portal, a centralized call center, or ideally a combination of both). The integrated channel contact point aggregates the various agency functions, providing the citizen with the information about the services, eligibility, and offering specialist advice among other things. A robust knowledge base system that links the two channels is a critical component to empowering both web and call center channels in this model.

In addition, it is also imperative to to understand the customer’s needs, behavior, and preferences related to the intention. This understanding of individual’s or organization’s needs allows the public portal to identify subsequent “related services”.  This further allows for public value to be realized from the interaction, as opposed to a “one off” request for information. For example, someone inquiring about food aid in a certain program or region, may also be directed to more information on the micro-lending programs also available in addition to supporting literature, sites, etc. When designed correctly, this is done without the end user having any information about the actual numbers of agencies or programs involved in managing the services, or how they work together across units in the delivery of the integrated services. This is aspect rightly belongs to the organization to manage, not the requester.

Lastly, the ability to continuously sense and respond to intention based portal requests, drives a virtuous cycle of value, a “network effect”, of citizen requests that can be aggregate and analyzed for further improvements in policy design and organizational structure. The more interactions captured, the more insights and feedback gathered, the greater the “network effect” is enabled via the aggregated, intentions based model. Moreover, this further lays the groundwork work future “semantic web” approaches, once the network ecosystem becomes self sustaining.

In consequence, the new design approaches approaches and emerging technologies now available allow for public facing portals allow the ability to ensure that public services are more integrated, accessible, and transparent, in ways that were not addressed in earlier iterations at a much lower cost structure, ultimately achieving a higher social ROI.

U.S. CIO joins DOD in backing SaaS for Government
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Federal CTO Seeks ‘Social Network on Steroids’
Internet Evolution
On the policy front, Chopra says the Office of Management and Budget is getting set to release an “Open Government Directive” that will require each agency