Drop the "e": Marketing E-Government to Skeptical and Web-Weary Decision Makers

Drop the "e": Marketing E-Government to Skeptical and Web-Weary Decision Makers

Douglas Holmes (www.dougholmes.com, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch078
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Abstract

This chapter was prepared originally for the 2002 Task Force of the OECD Project on the Impact of E-Government and was updated in 2004 for inclusion in the book, Practicing E-Government: A Global Perspective. The chapter addresses the risk of low public awareness and declining political interest as barriers to e-government, and considers ways governments can develop better marketing techniques to “sell” online services and the e-government concept to both groups. The term “marketing” is used loosely to mean both the presentation and promotion of actual online services to encourage people to use them, and the presentation and promotion of the theory and concept of e-government to ensure political understanding of its benefits to society. The chapter has two parts plus an initial Executive Summary that summarizes the points raised in both sections. Part A discusses demand-side issues: the lack of awareness and confusion among users and potential users of electronic services and how these issues can be addressed with various marketing techniques. While the greatest factor contributing to low take-up of electronic services continues to be poor Internet access and a lack of computer skills, the purpose of this report is not to address social exclusion issues. It is recognized that the digital divide is gradually being bridged and therefore the chapter primarily considers the person who has access to a computer but, for a variety of reasons, does not use it to access government services. Part B looks at the supply side and ways to market the concept of e-government to decision-makers — politicians and senior level bureaucrats — who are responsible for supporting and funding the development of online services and for removing remaining regulatory and legal barriers. The chapter does not address culture change within the public sector and the need to shift the mindset of government employees from traditional department-centric thinking into more customer-centric and user-friendly approaches. Overcoming employee resistance to new working methods requires more management skills than marketing skills. But marketing techniques can be used to address the risk of a backlash against e-government as declining political interest in the Internet generally and in e-government specifically coincides with the need to develop more complex and expensive electronic services and information systems. The author would like to thank Stefan Czerniawski, David Hickman, Chris Roberts, and Rod Quiney for their contributions.

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