DXC at SXSW: Discovering what citizens want from digital government services globally


Recently I had the pleasure of attending the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas. I went there to work with SAP Hybris to conduct research on how public sector organisations can better invest in digital solutions.

SXSW is not your ordinary conference. The event, which takes over downtown Austin each year, is a conglomerate of film, interactive and music festivals, and conferences. Attended by over 170,000 people, it is a hotbed of inspiration, information and networking that is famous for the serendipitous encounters that often spark creative new business ideas.

Normally, it isn’t the place to find large software vendors and systems integrators, and indeed it was the first time that either DXC Technology or SAP had participated in the event. We went there as one of the sponsors for the interactive sessions, flying the SAP Hybris citizen engagement banner. Our mission was to try to get a better understanding of what people want from “smart cities” and digital government services.

We partnered with an organisation called sensation.io, a specialist in sentiment-based research, to discover what digital services appeal to people and why exactly they value those services.

There is a lot of talk about what a smart city should look like, but typically, public sector organisations struggle to know with any certainty which services offer its citizens the most value. It is often a subjective measure and one that is influenced by different geographies, age groups, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

We interviewed over 500 conference attendees, asking them a range of questions to see whether we could define some high-level objectives that would help steer public sector organisations’ decision making around the services they supply.

We chose SXSW because it is attended by thinkers, innovators and digital technologists from all over the world. It provided us with a chance to talk to lots of people from different walks of life — most of whom hold the common goal of trying to use technology to make people’s lives better.

Thanks to sensation.io’s unique survey approach, we believe we gleaned some interesting data, which we will analyse over the coming months. We are confident that we have found a meaningful way of unearthing a richer level of information than a standard “1-to-10” satisfaction survey typically provides.

Early analysis of the results indicates we can answer some of the “big picture” questions around civic engagement — and tackle some of the issues that our research found were common across a range of public sector organisations. We canvassed a range of opinions and received some interesting feedback about what, and how, digital technologies can better serve citizens.

For example, we interviewed the mayors of several cities who genuinely wanted to deliver better outcomes for their constituents but admitted that often it was a small fraction of the citizenry that determined the spend for the city, because they were the most vocal. Finding a way to discover what was important to the greater populace — not just the squeaky wheels — is a burning issue for many public sector organisations.

For a technology services company, this information is extremely valuable because ultimately our aim is to create software that solves these types of problems and makes people’s lives better.

This research gives us the opportunity to generate some high-level, guiding principles — a “top-down” approach that will influence our long-term strategy and solution roadmap for encouraging improved citizen engagement. Stay tuned for more information.

Tim West headshotTim West is DXC’s Global SAP Hybris Practice Leader covering all regions. He is responsible for all aspects of the front office SAP Hybris portfolio at DXC, ensuring we grow the practice and deliver the outcomes our clients need. Tim has over 20 years of experience in front office digital applications spanning almost every continent. His varied background has seen him leading strategy, technical, customer experience, infrastructure and project management teams but always focused on delivering the outcomes clients require. He has worked in most industry verticals for companies such as BBC, Audi and Travel Inn in both client side and consulting.

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