The problems with the Obamacare website forced the President himself to address the issues yesterday of... a website? Just a few years ago- organizations including Government, non-profit and small businesses used to wonder if they should have a website. In teaching and learning, students would complain loudly about the problems of online learning platforms and senior faculty would talk about the "feel of real chalk" when explaining advanced calculus on a traditional blackboard instead of a virtual Blackboard. All this incredible change in the last 5-7 years.
The problems with the Obamacare website is centerstage today and this blog empathizes with Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the video above, the entire IT team including the contractors involved because everyone missed the biggest change of all :
Digital expectations is the real "flat world" where a person with an Internet connection in Sub-Saharan Africa has the same access as a Boston Brahmin contemplating the New England fall colors. Denizens of both these diametrically opposite places know that a) Twitter works and they both use Twitter and b) Facebook works beautifully and c) Google is always there for what you do not know .. and it works.They have high digital expectations!
The Bostonian, with more disposable income, uses Amazon.com more frequently than Amazon.com customers in sub- Saharan Africa but both understand the "quality" of the digital experience.
The problems with the Obamacare website is a wake-up call to all manner of software developers including:
Enterprise software : The famous ERP program SAP has been called Slow and Painful. Because of its excellent quality folks have endured , but digital expectations are rising.
Non-Profit Websites: Non profit websites always got kinder treatment from the public including beneficiaries,donors and volunteers, but here too digital expectations are on the rise.
Small Business Websites: Small businesses would console themselves that after all they were "small" but being small is no longer an excuse for a poor web visitor experience.
Naturally the lesson from the Obamacare website performance is a great message for Governments worldwide whether local,state or national that merely declaring an e-governance initiative or an e-service is not enough. The public,worldwide, expects at least a near "Facebook" type experience (and by the way Facebook is free). Writing clean software code and simple programs that are repeatedly beta tested early in new software development is something the public assumes. Similarly, even if your software is an "internal" one for your customer like ERP systems, you cannot continue to provide a clunky experience because a competitor will come up with an easy working friendly cloud solution and displace you. If you have existing clients inside organizations, its a good idea to innovate faster because just listen, your users are already comparing your software to the dismal healthcare.gov initial launch experience. Contact StratoServe.