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What does this mean?

Digital Communications for a New Era

In this Q&A, Maggie Hallbach, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Sales, Verizon, discusses the changing nature of communications and how new technologies fuel remote work and better constituent services.

How has the pandemic accelerated transformation for state and local governments?

Governments are moving to more agility, flexibility and scalability within operations. These themes have been around for some time, but necessity bred invention. Organizations moved a lot of applications to a virtualized environment. They allowed workforces to do something they never contemplated before, which is work from home. Organizations realized they can have a remote workforce and they have the technology to provide critical services to constituents and end users in a virtual environment.

How can better communications improve constituent services and the employee experience?

Communication and communication technology is more important now than ever. Younger generations and other users expect video collaboration, texting and short message communications. They want to be able to communicate where, when and how they need to. Besides just-in-time communications, users want the richness that comes from high-quality video communications and being able to integrate them with other communication platforms such as email and messaging so everyone can be as productive as possible.

What’s driving digital services? Is self-service the future for government agencies?

The Amazon effect — the idea of flexibility and the instantaneous experience — carries into what constituents expect from government. Certain types of information — Why hasn’t my trash been picked up? is a snow emergency affecting my route? — can be more effectively conveyed through digital forums. We can also automate routine transactions — determining benefits eligibility or paying for a license, for example — so constituents who prefer self-service can do tasks 24/7. Human interventions can then focus on higher complexity touch points, where you need a one-on-one experience.

Agencies adopted many new technologies during the pandemic. Which are making the biggest impact?

We’ve already talked about collaboration platforms. Another important technology is the cloud-enabled contact center. By moving call-center applications to a cloud environment, where they’re still managed by state employees but in a far more agile way, organizations become better suppliers to their end agencies. IT can scale virtual machines up and down in minutes — without dealing with equipment or supply chain challenges. Agencies can also integrate interactive voice response (IVR) solutions with things like social media-listening apps so they can pick up on trends and then dynamically change messaging.

How do agencies balance the need for a streamlined customer experience with security needs?

Cybersecurity should be built in by design. A layered defense with endpoint security is critical because many agents and constituents are connected to an endpoint, whether that’s simply a mobile phone or a laptop connection into the network, the infrastructure and the applications, and ultimately to a far edge server. Each endpoint must be secured. Security includes encryption of data at rest and in transit, as well as identity and access management to ensure users are who they say they are and can only access data that they’re eligible to access.