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Microsoft Citizen Service Platform

As I mentioned in my article on the Microsoft Single View Platform, this year is a particularly rich one for new frameworks and platforms out of Redmond. In particular, I cannot recall so many initiatives that are directed toward the public sector.

One of the most important of these is the Microsoft Citizen Service Platform (CSP). Microsoft describes it as a solution set for local government to improve services to citizens and enhance interagency communication. Like SVP, CSP does not include any new products and there is nothing new to buy. Instead, it illustrates how local government can use the Microsoft products they may aleady own to stand up citizen self service portals, case management systems, document management and enhanced communications.

CSP is a European import. It began with the Microsoft global public sector organization, and achieved early wins in the United Kingdom, Portugual, then spread to the Caribbean, Australia and other countries. The United States is a new frontier for CSP, and Microsoft is currently holding events around the country to promote the platform. I attended one this week in Reston, VA.

CSP solution templates include:
  • Communication applications: e-mail, calendars, and real-time communications
  • Search: Desktop and Internet content search
  • Citizen portal: A Web site that provides search capabilities, links to other Internet resources, and functionalities for personalizing information and services pages for citizens and businesses
  • Interactive forms: Online forms for citizens and businesses
  • Geographical information systems (GIS): Tools for cartographic data entry, mapping/spatial query, and visualization of maps
  • Intranet portal: Provides staff with an integrated view of information across an organization with single sign-on to Web-based applications
  • Web space: Personalized Web pages where citizens can create and post their own content and create their own e-mail accounts
  • Citizen contact center (citizen relationship management): The ability to provide multichannel access (phone, Web, e-mail, and instant messaging) to the information and services of a government agency and to integrate with case management
  • Case management: Systems to assess, plan, perform, monitor, and evaluate the options and services required by constituents
  • Document and record management: Adding documents and other media into collections, formatting and conversion, organizing and maintaining information, and managing user access and editing rights
  • Electronic procurement: E-commerce solutions with e-catalogs and e-marketplace functions that enable online ordering, payment, and tendering functions for managing the entire tendering call, negotiation, and award
  • Dashboards/balanced scorecards: Solutions to measure, analyze, and optimize financial and operational performance management processes using predefined key performance indicators
  • Financial Management/Reporting: ERP and Financial Applications

These templates are not full blown solutions but they are a great starting point and offer insights on how multiple products can be integrated to solve a business problem. If you are a local government customer of Microsoft, you can get your hands on them through your Microsoft account executive or contact me directly.

So what does this mean to Microsoft's public sector customers? First, it indicates Microsoft's willingness to think beyond the box of single applications. The ability to merge multiple products into coherent solutions is essential for the special needs of government. Too often vendors are trapped by the artificial barriers they create among their products.

Second, there is a growing brain trust at Microsoft that is learning how government operates and tackling the practical problems faced by public sector customers. For instance, few governments can keep up with the incessant upgrades offered by the information technology industry. Facing this problem squarely will help customers use technology more effectively. I have witnessed Microsoft hiring a number of former government officials who can bring their extensive experience to bear, improving products and service offerings. For instance, in my area alone, Microsoft hired Kim Nelson, former Chief Information Office of the Environmental Protection Agency, Chris Cortez, former Commanding General of the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, and several other former federal officials. In the central region, Michael Easley, the former CIO of Tarrant County, Texas not the North Carolina governor), brings his unique experience and perspective to Microsoft to help state and local government customers.

The third benefit of CSP is that it encourages Microsoft service providers to reuse the CSP framework, making their solutions more interoperable and easier to maintain. It may also trigger a healthy competition for integrators to polish up their solutions, share them with Microsoft in whole or in part, and provide fresh intellectual capital to a sector that needs new solutions and new approaches to its significant challenges.

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