The results of the barometer show real expectations when it comes to the digital transformation of public services, with 67% of French people considering digital development a priority. This finding is shared across Europe, particularly in Spain (88%), Norway (87%), Great Britain (76%) and Germany (73%). The survey attempts to understand the way in which citizens currently see the progress of transformation and outline their key expectations, whether in terms of which services to prioritise or how they should be used.
The French are ready for a total digital transformation of their public services
Forms of communication and consumption have drastically changed over the course of the last decade. The French are now managing their bank accounts and shopping on their smartphones, a practice they would largely like to see applied to administrative services as well, with 85% of them saying they’re ready to carry out all their interactions with the state online, even if that meant significantly changing their current behaviour.
This desire for change is shared by almost all French people, including both men (87%) and women (83%), the younger generations (85% of the under 35s) and the older (83% of the over 60s).
Public bodies have been able to keep pace with changing individual behaviours by accelerating their transformation processes. These efforts are recognised by 72% of citizens who believe the development of digital public services made progress in 2018 (compared to 66% in 2017).
In terms of services, the survey reveals a dichotomy between citizens’ expectations and the services that have actually seen the most progress. Among those considered as the highest priorities, the French deem health as the most important (36%) followed by employment (36%) and Civil state at 34%. In terms of other priorities, Policing and justice rank at 29%, tax at 19% and social security at 18%. While the digitalisation of these services is deemed as a priority by the French, this is still yet to be accomplished. In fact, only 49% of those surveyed consider the digitalisation of healthcare services as advanced. This is in line with a similar finding for the digitalisation state of employment, where only 51% of citizens consider its transformation as advanced.
“These new results from the Ipsos barometer for Sopra Steria Consulting confirm the significant expectations and real desire amongst French people to see their public services become more digital, even if that means making significant changes to their behaviour. But beyond this widespread enthusiasm, they also have a very clear idea of what these new services must offer on an everyday basis”, explains Claire Ducos, Development Director at Sopra Steria Consulting.
More than just the digitalisation of services, an urgent need to simplify processes for citizens’ life courses
While the government’s investment in digitally transforming public services is recognised by 86% of citizens who have noticed a significant improvement in the number of services that are now available online, only 66% find these new services easy to use. 52% of people think the content should be simplified and 44% wish to carry out all their interactions with the state online using a single portal.
Data security remains a major concern, with 71% of respondents fearing their personal details may be fraudulently used. Nevertheless, the introduction of the GDPR seems to have reassured people, given 53% of respondents have expressed confidence in how their personal data is protected and managed.
Finally, while citizens understand the value of the digital transformation in order to cut down on public spending (42%), above all, they believe it must be a way to help them save time (49%).
A genuine citizen need to digitally transform the state
The digital transformation of public services is clearly seen as positive by citizens who can identify three concrete advantages: facilitating the systematic analysis and cross-checking of personal information to improve protection against fraud (86%), to better prepare France for the challenges of tomorrow (79%) to save money (78%), and to simplify their lives (74%).
Despite a slight decline in comparison to 2017, 45% of French people still think the government has the will to make progress in terms of digital public services.
But the impacts of this digital transformation are still not yet tangible for everyone, as 51% of respondents are yet to see any effects of this digital transformation.
The human factor is a key element in the transformation of public services. 86% of French people think some civil servants will have difficulty adapting to change (+5 points compared to 2017), while 83% believe the process will reduce the overall number of civil servants (up 9 points compared to 2017). Finally, 82% of those surveyed think digital public services will be harder to access for those who aren’t as comfortable with technology.
“The enthusiasm and support to the digitalisation of public services is very consensual and strong in France and in Europe, to the point that a vast majority of citizens considers that the digitalisation of public services will help to better prepare the country for the future. However, there are still some brakes, including the protection of personal data. Those changes also call for a stronger support of citizens and civil servants in the use of these services. Strong expectations among citizens that the public authorities will have to consider”, said Brice Teinturier, Ipsos Deputy Chief Executive Officer for France.
*Methodology: This survey has been carried out by Ipsos for Sopra Steria based on a sample of 1,000 people in each country (France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and Spain), interviewed online via the Ipsos online Access Panel. The survey was carried out between 13 and 18 September 2018 using the quota method (sex, age, profession of the interviewee, region and market size). This report has been produced in accordance with international standard ISO 20252, "Market, opinion and social research".