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​Australians Want More Interactive Channels to Connect with Government Online: Key to Successful Digital Government Transformation – Unisys Research Finds

Unisys research reveals most Aussies prefer talking to a person rather than a government computer, and support public sector agencies sharing common citizen data with each other

Sydney, 30 March 2016 – New research from Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS) reveals that 65 percent of Australians prefer to deal with government agencies by phone or in person rather than online, as questions and queries can be answered during the interaction. However, younger Australians indicate a greater willingness to engage with government online. The study also found the majority of Australians support government agencies and departments sharing citizen data between them.  

Both results have major implications for successful digital transformation for the Australian public sector, according to Unisys experts.  

The Unisys Joined Up Government Survey is a national study that provides insights into the attitudes of consumers toward digital government services. The study, conducted in Australia by OmniPoll, surveyed 1,222 adults during February 2016.   

Almost seven in ten Australians (68 percent) say they are somewhat or very confident they can easily find the right government agency to deal with when they experience significant life events such as having a baby, losing a job, getting married, buying a house, or a death in the family. Older Australians are the most confident, with 73 percent of respondents aged over 50 expressing confidence compared to 60 percent of those aged 18-34. Eighty percent of Tasmanians are confident – the highest result of any State. 

Overall, 40 percent of Australians surveyed say they prefer to engage with government in person and 25 percent by phone (65 percent combined), compared to 29 percent who favour online contact. However, younger people, aged 18-34 years, have a greater preference (38 percent) for contacting the government online than those aged 50+ years (21 percent). Interestingly, while in-person interaction is the most popular method in Australia, it was the least preferred method when a similar survey was conducted in New Zealand

The main reason given for preferring to deal with the government by phone or in person is that questions can be answered as they talk (70 percent) and they feel more comfortable talking to a real person (69 percent). 

"Such low support of online government channels is surprising given that 86 percent1 of Australian households are connected to the Internet," said Ms Lysandra Schmutter, Vice President Public Sector, Unisys Asia Pacific. "Digital transformation is high on the agenda for government agencies as they seek to operate more efficiently and offer services to citizens in new and more effective ways. But it requires a cultural change to focus on the customer experience – not just the transaction.  

"This survey highlights that digital government initiatives must not only improve the ability of government employees to service citizens, but also change governments' approach to online engagement if they are to provide a compelling reason for citizens to shift to using digital channels. Digital technologies such as interactive online help, online chat, analytics and social platforms, available across a range of devices, will help enable two-way conversations in a self-service digital environment," she says. 

The top two benefits cited for preferring online channels are 24x7 availability and no queues. Of those who prefer online channels, the vast majority (85 percent) prefer to use websites rather than mobile apps (6 percent). However, there is higher use of mobile apps in Tasmania (15 percent of those who prefer online channels), South Australia/Northern Territory (14 percent) and Queensland (9 percent). 

"Interestingly, almost half (48 percent) of those who prefer dealing with government by phone or  in person say they believe it will be quicker than doing it online, while only 9 percent of those who prefer online interactions say it is because transactions are faster. Clearly, online channels are not yet seen as a faster way of dealing with Australian government agencies and departments," adds Ms Schmutter. 

The survey also reveals the Australian public has strong support (54 percent of respondents) for government agencies and departments sharing with each other common information about citizens such as address, birthdate and tax number. 

"Public support for sharing data between government agencies signals permission to transform business processes in a more efficient 'joined up government' approach to improve internal operations efficiencies and enhance the customer experience," says Ms Schmutter. 

Unisys works with government clients across the globe to drive innovation and transform citizen-centric services through leading-edge digital initiatives, including cloud deployments, applications modernisation, security solutions, and advanced data analytics. Supporting more than 300 government organisations around the world, Unisys provides IT consulting services and delivers innovative solutions that facilitate the transition to digital government.

1 – Australian Bureau of Statistics -  

Research Methodology

The online survey was conducted in February 2016 by research firm OmniPoll. Responses are from 1,222 people aged 18+ years across Australia in a nationally representative sample. All results have been post-weighted to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data. 

About Unisys

Unisys is a global information technology company that works with many of the world's largest companies and government organisations to solve their most pressing IT and business challenges. Unisys specialises in providing integrated, leading-edge solutions to clients in the government, financial services and commercial markets. With more than 20,000 employees serving clients around the world, Unisys offerings include cloud and infrastructure services, application services, security solutions, and high-end server technology. 

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About Unisys Asia Pacific

In Asia Pacific, Unisys delivers services and solutions through subsidiaries in Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan and through distributors or resellers in other countries in the region. 

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