Internet Security

Digital-first customer engagement strategies limited by fear

Could the fallout of data breaches in the private sector be to blame for the government's slow progress in digitising online services?

While most public sector organisations have implemented some form of digital-first customer engagement strategy—whether it is labelled 'digital first', 'channel shift', 'digital by default', or something similar—many believe that such strategies have not yet met their intended economic outcomes.

Despite the almost overwhelming amount of information available, digital-first customer engagement strategies and the plethora of solutions available, many are still experiencing problems - some old and some new.

One of the most common problems shared with me regards unwilling decision makers. This has been a problem for years. When digital-first strategies first began to take root in the government and public sector, elected officials were - rightly - concerned about inclusion as a necessity for all demographics. They did not want to alienate constituents who might not be digitally inclined. So, many elected officials decided to do nothing at all.

Today, this is no longer what causes hesitation among decision makers. Instead, the issue tends to be the decision maker’s scepticism on the ability to achieve the desired return on investment. That concern is, of course, not without reason. There are plenty of examples of strategies that do not go far enough and actually create more cost.

It is increasingly more likely to be about fear. When political careers can be on the line this is hardly surprising. The news seems to continually report on security breaches both in government, such as the recent IRS security breach, and in the private sector, such as the recent TalkTalk cyber-attack.

This could reportedly cost the organisation up to £35 million in one-off costs, including managing the incremental calls to the call centres, additional IT and technology costs, and lost revenue. This does not take into account the long term impact on the organisation's reputation. This can reduce revenue even further. However, in the same way that TalkTalk will not take its services offline, government organisations should not use fear to resist moving services online.

As a result of the TalkTalk hack, cyber security and business experts have urged enterprises and the government to do more to prevent data breaches. In response, the government launched an inquiry - led by the House of Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Committee - to examine the hack, and cyber security in general. They will be looking to establish what happened, TalkTalk's response and the protection of internet service providers against hacks.

When it comes to just about anything new, fear and apprehension are almost always present. This digital fear should be harnessed in a constructive way to help ensure proper measures are taken that protect these sites and their users.

Government and public sector organisations can take some lessons from their commercial sector counterparts, who seem to deal with these security breaches on a daily basis. Creating and implementing a digital-first strategy can cause fear and apprehension, but as Franklin Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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