Kids these days: They’re going to expect top-notch digital services

The Exchange
The Exchange
Published in
4 min readOct 25, 2022


a young girl with curly hair wearing a VR headset

One day while I was dozing on my couch with my phone laying on my chest, my two-and-a-half-year-old reached up, grabbed my phone, then gently moved my index finger and unlocked it. I pretended to be sleeping.

He proceeded to watch Paw Patrol.

I was dumbstruck, and impressed, by his deep familiarity with the user interface of the phone, and the app he needed to watch his favourite show.

This kid is now ten and represents a generation that grew up with user interfaces (UI) as the way they access media and information, not cable TV like my boomer parents or personal computers like I did.

Pretty soon, he and his peers are going to start accessing government services. Their expectations are going to far exceed most of those who do so now.

We risk the expectation gap widening even further if we don’t accelerate the push to modernize digital service delivery.

Think of the children.

a group of cartoons character that are mothers and they are all disgruntled with the caption “won’t somebody please think of the children”

Trust allows governments to tackle complex issues

“Can government provide digital services slightly better than a small pizza shop?” is my running joke since I landed in The Exchange Lab, and DevOps and Cloud Services this past summer.

I’m not the first to point out the obvious need for better digital services. But thinking about my son and his generation coming up behind millennials adds urgency to the call to action for me.

Particularly given the moment we’re in. Trust in government is deteriorating in Canada and across the globe.

The less trust in government, the less we are able to meaningfully tackle complex issues, like climate change, homelessness, the toxic drug supply, or health care.

Top-notch digital services alone won’t reverse the trend. But, standing still or moving slowly will further exacerbate the downward trajectory.

A recent report by KPMG details how many Canadian CEOs believe digital transformation is key for their organizations, but are also pressing pause as they run up against staff burnout and a lack of digital talent.

If we’re to press ahead with urgency, we need to make sure we’re supporting the people leading the change.

Digital Modernization and Developer Experience: People helping people

Developers and Digital Product teams are the people who do the hard, inglorious and important work to build the things, to code the code, that will help us live up to these kids’ expectations. Digital transformation isn’t about tools or tech, it’s about people.

The Digital Office and the Exchange Lab want to better support product teams and digital champions across the B.C. government. The theory goes that if we can better support teams working on service delivery, we’ll be better placed to deliver cracker jack digital services.

Service design research has found many digital product teams in the B.C. Public Sector have trouble finding the resources and guidance they need to be successful.

To borrow an analogy from Heather Remacle, also of the Exchange Lab, people know they need to climb the mountain, but they don’t have a complete map, working compass, or sometimes the right gear to get to the top. Sometimes, they don’t even know if they’re climbing the right mountain in the first place.

We want to change that.

There are two relatively new teams in the Lab, the Digital Modernization (DigiMod) and the Developer Experience (DevX) teams. These teams are working together to make life better for developers and digital product teams. Right now, we’re focused on making a better map for teams, so they can make better decisions about where to go and how to get there (and where to find the manual).

Together, we can make sure we don’t completely disappoint my 10-year old and his friends when they start interacting more with their provincial government.

On that note — we need your input. Are you working in any way on digital services or transformation? We want to hear from you.

Please, please, please fill out this super quick survey.

graphically designed profile picture of Karl Hardin, author of this article and director of digital service at the Exchange Lab. He is a light-skinned man with short hair, and a shirt and tie.

Karl Hardin, Director Developer Experience, Exchange Lab



The Exchange
The Exchange

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