Forget about writing a letter to your congressman – now, people are using tools like the web, email, and social media to have their voices heard on the state, local, and federal levels. Forward-looking agencies and politicians are even embracing crowdsourcing as a way to solicit feedback and innovative ideas for improving the government.
Much of this is due to the ubiquity of mobile devices. People are used to being able do just about everything with a smartphone or tablet, from collaborating with their colleagues wherever they may be, to ordering a pizza with a couple of quick swipes.
Citizens expect their interactions with the government to be just as satisfying and simple – but, unfortunately, recent data indicates that this has not been the case. According to a January 2015 report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, citizen satisfaction with federal government services continued to decline in 2014. This, despite Cross-Agency Priority goals that state federal agencies are to “utilize technology to improve the customer experience.”
Open data initiatives can help solve these issues, but efforts to institute these initiatives are creating new and different challenges for agency IT pros.
First, they must design services that allow members of the electorate to easily access information and interact with their governments using any type of device.
Then, they must monitor these services to ensure they continue to provide users with optimal experiences.
Those who wish to avoid the wrath of the citizenry would do well to add automated end-user monitoring to their IT tool bag. End-user monitoring allows agency IT managers to continuously monitor the user experience without having to manually check to see if a website or portal is functioning properly. It can help ensure that applications and sites remain problem-free – and enhance a government’s relationship with its citizens.
There are three types of end-user monitoring solutions IT professionals can use. They work together to identify and prevent potential problems with user-facing applications and websites, though each goes about it a bit differently.
First, there is web performance monitoring, which can proactively identify slow or non-performing websites that could hamper the user experience. Automated web performance monitoring tools can also report on load-times of page elements so that administrators can adjust and fix slow-loading pages accordingly.
Synthetic end-user monitoring (SEUM), allows IT administrators to run simulated tests on different possible scenarios to anticipate the outcome of certain events. For example, in the days leading up to an election or critical vote on the hill, agency IT professionals may wish to test certain applications to ensure they can handle spikes in traffic. Depending on the results, managers can make adjustments accordingly to handle the influx.
Finally, real-time end user monitoring effectively complements its synthetic partner. It is a passive monitoring process that—unlike SEUM which uses simulated data—gathers actual performance data as end-users are visiting and interacting with the web application in real time.
Today, governments are becoming increasingly like businesses. They’re trying to become more agile and responsive, and are committed to innovation. They’re also looking for ways to better service their customers. The potent combination of synthetic, real-time, and web performance monitoring can help them achieve all of these goals by greatly enhancing end-user satisfaction and overall citizen engagement.
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