Accelerating digital transformation in the public sector

In a recent National Association of State CIOs survey, 90% of state CIOs stated that the pandemic increased the demand for digital government services. In yet another survey across 36 countries, 87% of the respondents stated that their trust in the government would increase through a seamless digital government experience.

From telehealth to telework, in-person to remote case work, public sector digital transformation took a giant leap forward during the last 18 months. With cities under lockdown, there was little choice but to adopt new technologies that demonstrated and accelerated the need for the digital ‘new normal’ that’s transparent, frictionless, and convenient.

While efforts over the past few decades have facilitated this transformation for public sector organizations, digitalization has happened mainly on the front-end. The lack of fundamental re-engineering of underlying systems, operations, and processes is still a gap.

True digital transformation goes beyond the implementation of technologies on a stand-alone basis. It combines AI, cyber, and cloud technologies to transform service delivery and back-office operations. From ad-hoc application of digital to making it a part of the public sector DNA, there is a long way to go to keep up with the pace of change.

Digital transformation trends in the public sector

Public sector CIOs need to consider these trends to guide their investments and scale their digital transformation initiatives.

  • Digital identity ecosystems – By 2024, one-third of the national governments and half of the state governments in the U.S will offer mobile-based identity wallets to their citizens. But only a handful will operate across sectors and jurisdictions. Public sector organizations are increasingly looking into identity proofing, identity wallets, organization and object identity, and identity ecosystems for trusted and convenient access to all the services.
  • Hyper-automation – In the next three years, 75% of the governments will have at least three enterprise-wide hyper-automation projects. It will enhance efficiency and increase the effectiveness of government work.
  • Data sharing as a program – Data sharing in the public sector remains ad-hoc and inefficient. Government CIOs would lead the shift to promote data sharing, reuse, and innovation to serve the citizens better.
  • Cloud adoption – 95% of new IT investments in the public sector will be on Anything as a Service (XaaS) solutions. With cloud technology, agencies will have the flexibility to scale up their operations quickly and become more resilient. This will allow employees to access systems anywhere and through any device including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
  • AI and data analytics – By 2024, 60% of public sector investments in AI and data analytics will directly impact real-time operational decisions and outcomes. This will encourage predictive planning and help deliver proactive interventions.

How can public sector organizations navigate these trends to become more digital and resilient

Through decades of experience across industries, we have identified five areas crucial for a successful digital transformation - Experience, Insight, Innovate, Accelerate and Assure. Public sector organizations can look at each of these principal areas to advance their progress on various aspects of digital transformation.

Accelerate:

Public sector organizations can modernize core systems and build an agile foundation that provides the required scale to support changing requirements at speed. This helps:

  • Enhance efficiency and transparency – Making government services easily accessible and offering personalized services to citizens.
  • Optimize operational costs – The ability to store the information centrally and utilize real-time insights to streamline operations, reduce processing times, and optimize costs.

Assure:

Proactively securing the entire IT and process landscape to assure privacy and service delivery. Tracking their progress through this dimension will help public sector organizations:

  • Establish trust and security – Government agencies handle sensitive information, such as tax details, medical records, criminal records, and financial records of its citizens. Digital transformation of public sector operations and processes and a zero-trust security approach will assure security and service delivery.

Insight:

Turning data into actions that enhance efficiency and help deliver the right interventions and services at the right time. This will help government leaders:

  • Make data-driven policies – Data is a strategic asset to accelerate digital transformation. There is a need to go beyond organizational obstacles, legal and political boundaries to use solutions such as big data analytics and machine learning and improve decision making.
  • Better information management – Digital transformation will make it easy for different agencies to access and share data among themselves and citizens for a unified experience.

Experience:

Effective digital transformation will help agencies deliver superior experience to constituents and employees, enabling them to access and provide services anywhere, anytime, and through any device.

  • Engage and retain employees – Digital transformation increases employees’ confidence in their role, streamlines processes, improves productivity, and offers job satisfaction and career opportunities.
  • Better citizen experience – Portals that consolidate government data enable omni-channel communications for a better user experience. With APIs, machine learning, and intelligent process automation, public services can become more efficient, cost-effective, and responsive.

Examples Of how public sector organizations are advancing their digital agenda

The following examples highlight how public sector organizations are leveraging digital solutions for the benefits discussed above –

  • Unemployment Insurance – During the pandemic, Rhode Island modernized its unemployment insurance assistance center within 10 days using cloud technology. This raised their capacity of concurrent calls from 75 to 2000.
  • Procurement – A recent survey revealed that 52% of public sector agencies are investing in robotic process automation, while 37% are utilizing automation and artificial intelligence for procurement. Another research study found that the U.S public sector is pushing to improve procurement systems and reduce operational costs by investing in procurement software and business process outsourcing (BPO). For example, in the eye of the storm of the pandemic, a government department serving as the central purchasing agent leveraged cloud-based platforms to build a digital solution to manage the accelerating and skyrocketing demand for COVID-19 supplies and services. With the new modernize procurement solution, the government went from shortage to surplus of PPE supplies.
  • Transportation – The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in the UK conducts driving and emissions tests, roadside checks, and vehicle recalls, keeping the transportation system safe. By moving its services to the cloud, DVSA could cut latency by two-thirds and reduce the time required to add new connections from months to a few hours. DVSA can make its services available in more than 500 locations within seconds of going on cloud and reduce vendor lock-in to get better contract terms and delivery.
    On the other side of the Atlantic, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) modernized and digitized its driver medical review (DMR) system. The DMR system is used by MTO to review and assess over 200,000 reports annually to determine if a person’s driving privileges should be suspended, re-initiated, downgraded, or monitored based on their reported medical condition. The legacy system depended heavily on paper transactions, and determinations often took several weeks to complete. The modern DMR system reduced the turnaround time to a few days from several weeks, an increase in efficiency of nearly 85% while simultaneously delivering an improved experience to stakeholders.
  • Health and Human Services - Healthcare services are subject to stringent data privacy and compliance requirements. Here’s how few organizations addressed these requirements while becoming more digital:
    • With over 12,000 employees in 328 offices, the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) helped a State Child Welfare Department administer five human services programs. The SACWIS had become increasingly complex and challenging to maintain. SCWD wanted to modernize the system to comply with new legislative requirements, address changing needs, reduce the cost of operations, and minimize the administrative burden on caseworkers, enabling them to spend more time with people that needed them the most. They adopted a modular, mobile-enabled child welfare platform with automated workflows and self-service capabilities that Improved usability of the system, automated processes that reduced time, and increased data accuracy and security.
    • The California Statewide Automated Welfare System (CalSAWS) oversees the operations for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Information Network (CalWIN). Over 30,000 users access the CalWIN system from 800 locations to provide services to approximately 6.4 million clients. CalSAWS sought quality assurance to ensure the system worked as intended and improved and optimized operations. By adopting a digital strategy, CalSAWS was able to deliver the right services to over 6 million members.

Why is digital government necessary?

Being digital is not only about deploying sophisticated technology. The goal is to explore opportunities to better address constituents’ needs by applying design, innovation, and technologies to current services and developing new ways of delivering value, convenience, and results. Digital transformation allows public sector organizations to meet this goal and at the same time address the several challenges they face today:

  • Trust issues – Digitization leads to ease of access and builds citizens’ trust in the security and data storage capabilities of the IT solution. For example, Riverside County leveraged blockchain technology to modernize public recordkeeping. This technology allows the government to help citizens obtain vital digital records securely within minutes and achieve higher efficiency within the office operations and increase trust.
  • Citizen services – The expectations of citizens are increasing, and the public sector must catch up. Digital transformation will enable public sector organizations to resolve citizen issues faster, deliver unified access to information, ensure transparent access to their data, and much more.
  • Government employee care – Government agencies must ensure that they meet the needs of the employees and encourage them to make a difference in the citizens’ lives by providing exceptional service through digital transformation.
  • Tight budgets – While tight budgets may seem like an obstacle in the journey, digital transformation will lead to monetary savings by optimizing processes and systems with immediate results.

The journey to digital transformation in public sector is exciting and rewarding

However, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. The public and private sector alike need to understand the benefits of digital technologies, digitally transformed processes, and strategies that will help achieve their goals, meet customer and citizen expectations, lower the cost of operations, and stay compliant with regulatory policies.

Explore our blogs for insights on the importance of digital transformation, how to identify the key areas for digital transformation, the key challenges that organizations would need to address, and the key benefits that they would realize after successfully executing their digital transformation initiatives.

Learn more about digital transformation in the public sector.

References