Socitm advises public sector management to investigate sentiment analysis

Socitm has suggested that senior ICT managers, who are now responsible for customer service and digital access channels, investigate the use of sentiment analysis to aggregate individual opinions and receptions to new digital services.

Socitm’s latest briefing paper ‘Sentiment analysis: a useful technique’ says that although it is unlikely that public sector bodies will be looking at establishing their own analysis facilities, they may explore the possibility of purchasing one from a commercial partner.

Sentiment analysis is conducted through data mining, linguistics and natural language processing, with social media playing a key role in delivering vast quantities of “opinionated text in digital form”.

Socitm’s briefing says that although there are pitfalls in the path of sentiment analysis, particularly misinterpretation of use of words by computers, the challenges should not deter public sector managers from considering the practice.

Socitm argues: “in the public sector, its use may be as a means of better assessing reactions to, for example, new digital services.

Initially, organisations might use sentiment analysis simply to validate what they are doing, but experience of the technique matures, the next step would be to use it as a learning tool, applying information gleaned from customer reaction to development of future service designs.

As ICT is moves out from the back office into the mainstream of public service delivery, with many heads of ICT taking on customer services responsibilities, the question of the performance management of digital services looms large.

Services will want feedback on how their outputs are received by the community. How easy are services to use and what factors inhibit take- up? Sentiment analysis is a powerful way of gathering evidence, and being able to track changes over time.”

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