I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about formal eConsultation recently. The solution industry is fairly mature yet I think it could do more to harness the benefits of the digital channel. For example, few solutions use social login integration or provide real intelligence for consultation officers such as Experian or sentiment analysis. At the same time the number of organisations undertaking serious engagement via formal online consultation is, in my opinion, disappointing.
Nevertheless, there are proven benefits to be had. Just take a look at how people got involved in the 2011 Tough Choices project by Devon CC which was underpinned by a digital presence.
I believe that central to the improving the reputation of eConsultation is improving engagement, which in part requires a deeper understanding of participants and their motivators. I missed this first-rate report (Civic Limits) first time around – the section on value types (p.32) stands out for me. If you read this part you’ll soon realise that very few consultations are good at providing incentives to attract ‘tribals’, or using words that evoke a sense of duty for attracting more ‘conformists’.
The report also highlights these improvement areas:-
- Bottom-Up Involvement: Involvement activities need to be designed to reflect the motivations and interests of the participants, not the institutions
- Continuous Involvement Not One-Off: We need to move towards continuous conversational involvement, not set-piece one-off activities
- Combining Face-to-Face and Online Processes.
So how is the European Union measuring progress on citizen engagement under the Digital Agenda for Europe? Erm, it isn’t really, although it does have a scoreboard for the other things it is doing. Apart from the low level of superfast penetration the most surprising fact is that only 33% of SMEs are selling online and only 20% of citizens buying cross-border. Time to expand one of my other current projects, digitalLincs, methinks.
Actually, I’ve long though that the digital consultation effort at the EU level is particularly disappointing.
So where do we go fom here? Well, I think it’s time for an independent resouce a bit like this one. Any takers?