Unqork's Brennan Wiliams explores the urgent need for agencies to rapidly deploy digital solutions to address the pandemic—and how no-code is uniquely suited to overcome these challenges.
Before 2020, digital transformation may have been on government officials’ radars, but it wasn’t necessarily something that threatened their ability to reach their constituents. In the face of other urgent priorities, many government officials likely felt that “going digital” was a luxury that could wait. However, the pandemic and its socio-economic repercussions have only amplified the critical role digital solutions will no doubt play in accessing services in the future.
To push through 2020 and serve their constituents as best they could, many government agencies implemented temporary digital solutions to buy themselves some time. Some agencies used third-party partners to expand multichannel service delivery, while others explored creating their own digital product teams and expanding their use of UX tools. As we enter 2021, it’s important that government agencies examine what worked and what didn’t about last year’s strategies—and ultimately shift their focus to solutions that will serve them well in the long run.
New Pressures and New Priorities
The average person typically engages with the government for a variety of services during their lifetime—taxes, Social Security, and voting, to name a few. The pandemic upset this relationship in two key ways. First, stay-at-home mandates and social distancing measures made providing in-person experiences nearly impossible, making it harder for constituents to access the services they need. Second, COVID-19 forced many citizens to interact with the government in ways they hadn’t previously, from applying for pandemic relief funds for businesses to filing for unemployment.
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These pressures have forced government agencies to work overtime to account for the deluge of requests in new ways. It’s also worth noting that these new demands are exacerbated by existing pressures from the federal government. For example, the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA), introduced in 2018, requires government agencies to modernize their websites and eliminate paper forms. The President’s Management Agenda (PMA) also urges agencies to provide a modern and accessible customer experience that is on par with commercial offerings.
Faced with a new sense of urgency that was only accelerated by the pandemic, government CIOs have been forced to take digital transformation seriously and reevaluate their approach. But as they likely realized in 2020, making these transformations and rolling out new digital solutions may be easier said than done.
Why Is Digital Transformation So Challenging?
The truth is that traditional development methods can’t get government agencies where they need to be in a COVID-world. Many government agencies rely on decades-old technology or programming languages like COBOL to power their legacy systems, which locks them into a self-perpetuating cycle that’s incredibly difficult to escape.
Legacy technologies are complex, often single-use, and must be maintained by highly-specialized engineers who have experience working with the codebase. As each change adds millions of lines of code to the existing codebase, the code gets more difficult and more expensive to maintain. The average COBOL programmer, for instance, is between 45 and 55 years old, meaning companies struggle to find talent in a pool of younger programmers who have already bypassed COBOL in favor of more modern languages. If they do manage to find someone who can work with their outdated codebase, they’ll pay a premium. Combine these costs with the standard costs associated with legacy maintenance, and companies are almost certainly going to rack up a lot of technical debt.
The Unqork platform gives government agencies everything they need to transform their digital offerings in 2021—front-end, workflows, analytics, integrations, management, and maintenance—in a single unified platform.
Government agencies also tend to rely on disparate tools to support their day-to-day operations. Each individual tool might be useful, but they often don’t connect together to form a cohesive, holistic ecosystem. The only way to work around this issue is to use code to build links between modern and legacy technologies—which only introduces more code, more maintenance, and more headaches.
The No-Code Difference
Here’s where no-code comes in. No-code offers a powerful alternative to traditional development, giving organizations a way to bypass legacy maintenance and get applications to market at record speeds. With no-code, government agencies can eliminate the pain points they likely faced in 2020 as they struggled to roll out digital solutions for their constituents. To help their constituents gain access to services—and make their own internal operations more efficient—as the pandemic goes on, government agencies need no-code.
The Unqork platform gives government agencies everything they need to transform their digital offerings in 2021—front-end, workflows, analytics, integrations, management, and maintenance—in a single unified platform. There’s no need to toggle between disparate tools to unlock a solution that works. Visual elements and drag-and-drop components make it easier than ever to create complex applications without getting bogged down in code.
Unqork’s enterprise-grade, built-in security features also make it an especially great fit for government solutions. Its single-tenant, cloud-agnostic architecture means you don’t have to worry about your data mingling with other creators’ data, and granular role-based access controls and SOC Type II reports help keep organizations prepared for audits.