Over the weekend, Accela released Civic Platform 8.0. For many of our employees, partners and customers, these releases are an annual or biannual event that produce a litany of new FAQs and release notes on the platform’s newest features. After many years of releasing product, it’s easy to see how these events become yet another “ho-hum” release listing off the “new stuff” added during the past cycle.
However, this is not an ordinary release by any measure. Not only is it the most significant release in Accela’s history, but Civic Platform 8.0 is the most dramatic release in the government technology sector, ever. And I realize that is making a bold statement!
So what’s the big deal? Why does the release matter?
A little more than two years ago, Accela closed its first round of institutional funding. Our desire to raise outside money was centered on our belief that we had the right stuff to claim the mantle as the dominant player in the government cloud by developing and acquiring solutions all driven by a platform designed and created for government.
In 8.0, we focused on three main areas:
- First, we put an engineering focus on our platform capabilities, building out powerful and open APIs and SDKs that opened up our ecosystem.
- Second, we acquired the capabilities of nine different software applications to add greater functional depth to our story.
- Finally, we set in motion a plan to reset and reignite the user experience for our platform.
You might note that I wrote “user experience,” not “user interface.” When we embarked on this journey, we were acutely aware this effort would not be successful if we simply improved the look and feel of the product. We wanted to study the usability patterns of government employees and the citizens, building prototypes to further validate our findings, and then deliver a great user experience that transformed the way people work. Yet we wanted to not only transform how governments work, but also how citizens interact with them.
To make this happen, the user experience team conducted their work by visiting the counters of agencies, going on “ride-alongs” with inspectors, meeting with executives and conducting countless seminars with citizens to build something unique.
That’s why the result is so much more than an annual release. It’s fresh. It’s fun. And there’s no other product in this industry like it. Civic Platform 8.0 is the culmination of over two years of research, prototyping and testing, and features improvements designed to drastically increase application processing speed, facilitate multitasking, visualize and explore data in dashboards and maps, and share and find records from multiple workflows and across multiple departments.
Task Dashboard for Civic Platform 8.0
While there is always plenty more work to be done, I’m convinced that Civic Platform 8.0 is the best, most comprehensive, purpose-built foundation of cloud-based solutions government has ever seen, and we look forward to our customers’ feedback on their experience.