With the COVID-19 pandemic, digitalisation has had great success in gradually advancing into a few previously untouched areas. By the same token, the need to catch up and improve digitalisation efforts has been ruthlessly revealed. There is no way around digitalisation these days, this has become increasingly clear. Private individuals have seen an accelerated digital evolution over the last two years that has materialised in a wide range of commercial offerings and improved customer service. They realise the added value and are eager to make use of digital services in their dealings with other industries and the public sector as well. This presents a great opportunity for government agencies, but also industries such as healthcare, and can serve to inspire their digital efforts to follow suit; particularly, if eIDs are deployed to take security and usability in digital services to a whole new level.
Note: This article is the first in a blog series dealing with eIDs (electronic identifications) and their great potential, particularly to securing digital communications. We will discuss digitalisation’s benefits for consumers and citizens, but also for government authorities and enterprises in various industries and take a closer look at communication between government agencies and citizens as well as in B2C exchanges. We will examine eIDs and the eIDAS regulation and where Germany, Austria, and Switzerland stand in terms of eIDs. Furthermore we will show the potential an eID holds as a component of digital identities for government agencies, enterprises, and citizens. We will illustrate the successful implementation of eIDs in other European countries and the benefits they derived from digital identities. Finally, we will focus specifically on the use of eIDs for secure digital communication.
It is of particular interest to public authorities, healthcare, the financial industry, and the insurance industry how eIDs function and how they can be applied to enhance digital interactions between them and their communication partners. However, the use of the digital identities also offers exciting opportunities for everyone who communicates with these institutions as well as for many other industries. After all, tomorrow's process digitalisation will crucially be built on digital identities.
Digitalisation brings greater flexibility for citizens, customers, and prospects
Nowadays, private individuals are increasingly taking advantage of the benefits digitalisation offers. It is no longer necessary for most matters to be taken care of personally on site or in hardcopy by mail. Now, these can be resolved easily and conveniently online – without having to leave the house. This applies to many processes that are particularly familiar in everyday life: For example, interested parties can conduct research and tariff comparison to find the most suitable mobile phone contract online, completely independently, and then become customers when they sign up.
Those who surf online, shop online: True for almost 90% of German internet users, who for the past eight consecutive years have enjoyed the ease and convenience of commercial online transactions.
From the initiation of a business transaction through the conclusion of a contract – all can take place without having to actively involve the vendor. This also applies to administrative procedures such as the registration of your car. People are in charge, and they can decide when they want to take care of their business; they are no longer dependent on getting an appointment to be able to do so.
Where might such process improvements help in your organisation, and how would a project to make change get started?
When processes are offered online, they can be carried out at a time that works best for the person concerned – 24/7, at any time. There are no business hours that need to be adhered to. This offers people more self-determination and flexibility than they ever had before and lowers the costs for everyone.
More freedom not just anytime, but anywhere
Thanks to smartphones, this temporal flexibility goes hand-in-hand with almost unlimited mobility; after all, you can now do virtually everything online while on the move. Whether on the bus or in the train station, you are free to determine the place and time to conduct business. This saves you valuable time and provides more efficiency in people’s lives. With the gain in flexibility and mobility, digitalisation ultimately creates significantly more freedom in organising and running one's own life and commands high user loyalty.
This freedom is being used more and more, especially in the private sector. People are ready and willing to take full advantage of digital opportunities because they bring real benefits. They are happy to follow suit in other areas, too, if digital offerings are created that provide added value. Let's be honest, if it is possible to make going to the local government agency superfluous because you can transfer your documents simply and comfortably from your couch – at any time, securely, and with clear proof of identity – then it doesn’t take a whole lot of convincing that the choice is a foregone conclusion. Incidentally, both sides benefit from the time saved: the citizens as well as the staff at the local office.
Transferring digital benefits from the private sector to the public one
The ‘Digitalisation Monitor 2021’ (link to original report in German), commissioned by the German FDP parliamentary group (‘Free Democratic Party’, business-friendly liberal democrats) and conducted by the public polling institute Forsa, shows that 86% of German citizens are willing to use services of governmental agencies online, even if they have had no prior experience with them. People are ahead of e-government’s current digital offerings and they are ready for more. The digital evolution in the marketplace and in citizens’ private lives has progressed more quickly. As a result, people have a much easier time conducting their business online in B2C dealings.
Just a few months into the pandemic, the majority of senior IT and business decision makers see the clear need for digital alternatives for their own enterprises as well as customers.
What must not be overlooked here is the great opportunity that this holds particularly for government agencies and also in sectors such as healthcare. There are benefits to be gained from the fact that people are already very open to enter new digital territory thanks to their familiarity with the existing offers from the private sector. With such huge benefits, this potential must now be successfully leveraged.
By using eIDs as part of their digital identity, users can authenticate themselves in their online transactions in a very simple and highly secure way. This combines the convenience of conducting private transactions online and handling official matters with government agencies digitally with a new level of security. In this way, everyone can benefit even more from digitalisation.
- What digital changes have government agencies and enterprises seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How can the digital advances of the private sector and people’s willingness to also use digital offerings in other areas be capitalised?
You will find the answers to these questions in our next blog post. Until then, happy holidays and a healthy, prosperous new year!