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Thinking About AI, Voice UI And Predictive Analytics In Digital Government

Monday, 17 May 2021

As consequence of the ‘digital-age’, technology helps us administer our lives with a degree of freedom and flexibility not previously enjoyed.

Internet accessibility and smartphone adoption means we’re more connected than ever, with friends and family, as well as with the businesses we choose to interact with. In Government, where our interactions are more out of necessity, it’s no different. As citizens we can now self-serve at scale whenever convenient.

The self-serve nature of public portals help us access information when we need it, or help us perform an action via a convenient channel, but central to their success and adoption has been putting user needs at the forefront of design, thus encouraging re-use via an effective user experience (UX).

Automation is one area of the Government’s digital arsenal that has enhanced UX, helping to keep things moving in the absence of physical staff.

Artificial Intelligence Goes Mainstream

What is AI?

Computers can hear, see, and read humans better than ever before. Not only can they read or listen to the words that we write or say, they can interpret the nuance of our language, and the emotion attached to it, helping them better contextualise our issues, or questions.

How can AI Help?

In the context of customer service for example, we can deploy conversation AI ‘bots’ that can help, assist, escalate and resolve any queries without the need for any physical intervention. Think of the moments when we’ve interacted with chat bots, only for our ‘conversation’ to transfer to an agent anyway when we reach the end of the ‘sequence’. AI goes further and can handle this on its own. When you link this with machine learning, over time these virtual assistants will become better and better, and even more accurate as they learn more and more about the audience they serve.

Predictive Analytics

What is Predictive Analytics?

Predictive analytics makes predictions about future outcomes based on historical data and analytics techniques such as statistical modelling and machine learning. By employing predictive analytics, organisations can generate future insights with a considerable degree of precision, as such helping adopters save time and money in doing so.

How can Predictive analytics help?

Predictive analytics can help you tailor an experience to a specific individual, or group of individuals, effectively delivering a hyper personalised UX. Imagine landing on a webpage that already knew what you wanted? This might sound a bit far-fetched, or it may even worry us, however this extreme example shows the full potential of predictive analytics.

Perhaps a more reasonable example would be our very own virtual concierge. AI-driven analytics can deliver an immersive experience, and instant gratification. This may have already crept in to parts of our lives without even noticing. Think of your recommended viewing on Netflix, or what to listen to next on Spotify. It feels convenient and rewarding finding something you enjoy, yet this was no coincidence.

Looking Forward

Innovative technology will always ensure digital evolution, as organisations strive to develop systems that ensure products, services, or information can be bought, used, or found as easily as possible.

The digitisation of public services has also taken on a new dynamic as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Central to this rapid change in direction was accessibility. As we were instructed to stay at home, organisations looked to digital to limit service disruption. For example, the use of the NHS app, which includes repeat prescriptions functionality grew by 111% in March 2020 alone, where there is a direct correlation between app usage and a ‘stay at home’ order by the UK Government.


In the not too distant future, digital government services will be being designed with data and artificial intelligence at their core, all designed to help the end user, the public.

New technologies are exciting, and present opportunities for our public sector organisations to improve user experience. However, with these opportunities come challenges, and these technologies can fall short if they are not implemented in a way that addresses our user needs, or enhance our overall experience. Organisations should embrace continuous design by ensuring feedback channels remain open, they should proactively ensure user’s needs are catered for, and not be afraid to introduce something new, so long as empathy and an understanding of our human needs remain at its core.