Last year (Year 2021) forty-four Indian unicorns with a capital of thirty eight billion dollars appeared. In this case, India was only behind the US and China. These unicorn enterprises have acquired the ability to create and deliver a wide variety of products for all types of users, with tons of features and technology, but also the ability to make people feel happy over and over again. It can also be clearly seen in it.
The word ‘repeated’ is important here. The best products create the expectations of the users and capture their success in their minds and this is possible only when the design and technical features of a software or device bring out a core product. For example, today when one uses the UPI app for payment of a bill, the experience depends very little on any human intervention, but the linkage with the banks and the quick action of its interface which comes from a lot of experience. ready, it can be experienced in its use.
This is in stark contrast to the traditional methods of providing a variety of civic services, in which civil services still require the prerogative of a government official. The Digital India scheme launched by the Prime Minister in 2015 has brought to the fore the importance of digitization and use of technology for citizen services. All successful digital products and platforms like Aadhar, UPI, Government eMarketplace, Ayushman Bharat, Kovin, Passport Seva and other similar services have one thing in common that discretion and inclination towards making such citizen services available to every individual has one thing in common. It has made possible transparency and efficiency. Due to this, it has become possible to reach every citizen according to his services.
So what can be done to create digital products in government for citizen services? What can the government learn from startups in product design and development? How to create more and more successful digital products that can take India’s economy to one trillion US dollars by 2025? We can answer these questions by working on the following nine points.
First, there has been a change in the communication and relationship between the government and citizens in terms of the delivery of civic services. Better designed software products and applications, rather than people, will gradually increase this interaction and act as an intermediary. It needs to be understood.
Second, instead of making the product itself, the government should provide such platforms and facilities which can be able to make better products. Third, the government should adopt a product approach and aim at creating repeatable processes. Fourth, it is often observed that product development work is carried out externally through Request for Proposals and once the contract is signed, it is followed by any other process as per the scope, structure, technology of choice, design, timeline and requirement of the customers. There is very little room for big change. Any contractor will include a transition period of one year to switch jobs from an existing operator and then an additional year to develop the new software.
If someone adds an additional six to nine months to complete the contract process, we are essentially saying that the product that started work would have arrived eighteen to twenty four months earlier. So the top-level product developer needs to know who in the organization can ensure that the valuable time and resources spent on product development are productive, incorporating the needs and priorities of all stakeholders.
Fifth, there is a need for a revolutionary change in the approach of the government to product development. Its approach should be citizen centric rather than departmental centric. There should be complete clarity and focus on the needs and priorities of all the participants.
Sixth, there is a need to create a conducive environment where talented product managers, engineers and designers from the private sector can work in the government. The issue here is not just about hiring talented people with engineering or technology perspectives, but also about identifying people who are imaginative, creative and have a human-centered approach to work for social impact.
Seventh, the product has to be conceived, developed, tested, operated and maintained continuously in mind. This requires a dedicated team that rapidly develops and tests the products and adapts them as per the need to get feedback from the users. It is only by repeating this process that progress can be made towards making a product the best.
Eighth, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and analytics should be used for services such as marketing and management. Ninth, there is an urgent need to ensure information security at all levels. It has been seen that even good software has failed in maintaining privacy and data security. Also this has been happening in the proper identification of the user.
The foundation of digital services has now been laid in the country. With digital infrastructure and more applications like health services platforms and health identification numbers with digital registration, the government is reaching out to the people and technology has played a big role in this. With these two words digital and technology, India today has taken more important steps towards digital infrastructure. In the Union Budget for 2022-23, it has also been emphasized that a product-centric approach will play an important role in creating more and more successful products.
(The author is Member-Finance, Space Commission.)