Digital Transformation Challenges Faced by Government Organizations

We regularly hear about digital transformation successes. The hurdles, challenges or even failures that organizations had to address to execute their successful digital transformation program are rarely discussed. It is important to cover these challenges so organizations can adapt learnings from their peers and accelerate their digital transformation initiatives.

Public sector organizations have their own set of unique digital transformation challenges. Services designed for the citizens need to work for a wide cross-section of users in a streamlined manner to ensure a smooth and memorable user experience. We’re going to take a deeper look on the digital transformation challenges in the public sector.

Primary Challenges in Public Sector Digital Transformation Initiatives

Future-proofing processes, establishing trust, user personalization, reinventing work culture, and cost-effectiveness.

Being mindful of these important aspects is the only way to ensure a sustainable digital transformation. Let’s take a closer look at each of these five challenges and what needs to be done to overcome them.

1. Future-Proofing Processes

The US government spends 80% of its IT expenditure on sustaining systems that are between 8 to 51 years old. These systems are sometimes unreliable, expensive, and inflexible. Given the vast amount of investment committed to maintaining them, replacing this technology is an unpalatable alternative. At the same time, traditional tools are not mobile-optimized and cannot adapt swiftly to rapidly changing requirements.

In such a case, adopting agile technology and IT solutions is what public sector organizations need to modernize legacy systems. Having functional and future-ready processes in place is crucial for a successful digital transformation program that can stand the test of time. Organizations need to evaluate which legacy systems they can upgrade to work efficiently with the new, streamlined workflow and which old processes need to be replaced entirely with modern alternatives. They will also need to review existing contracts and legacy software licenses and assess which processes can safely migrate to the cloud to make full use of modern infrastructure and workflows.

In-depth research is necessary to make the right decisions concerning the new technologies one can adopt. Public sector organizations may need to consult with industry experts who can help them develop a sustainable digital transformation strategy.

2. Establishing Trust

Citizens prefer streamlined and simplified experiences that are mostly provided by commercial sector organizations. These expectations don’t vanish when it comes to interactions with public sector organizations. However, only 12% of government customers state that government services meet their needs, while 75% expect digital government services to perform at the level of private sector institutions.

Government agencies need to consider the digital divide when planning a digital transformation program. A large proportion of the population may not have proper internet access, or multichannel access, and it is necessary to ensure that this demographic can still avail government services once the new processes are in place. To establish trust, a digital relationship management platform that links digital, mobile, phone, and in-person interactions is required. Having an omni-channel approach will allow constituents to select guided self-service and access their case data on their schedule on whichever device they like.

Incorporating a user-focused approach during the development stages will ensure that these people are taken care of. Experienced UX designers and customer experience experts can help ensure that information is easily accessible to everyone, and this will establish widespread trust as governments advance their digital agenda.

Additional Read: Legacy System vs. Modern System

3. User Personalization

Another challenge faced while digitally transforming public sector organizations is understanding who the core demographics are and what drives them in using a particular service. Answering questions such as what are their pain points and what problems need solving, require an in-depth understanding of the end-user.

Therefore, a successful public sector digital transformation needs to look beyond administration objectives and consider the needs of specific users. In-depth research can clarify user demographics and their needs when using a particular service. For example, the healthcare needs of the elderly are different from those of young business owners attempting to access local support for their organization. To be effective, public sector services must first understand the specific needs of various users by applying a data-first approach. Detailed analyses of all the data that the government has access to can provide an in-depth understanding of how constituents will use the available services. One can apply these insights to develop efficient workflows that are convenient, quick, and easy to use.

4. Reinventing Work Culture

State CIOs driving technology-led transformation face an acute challenge in making organizational change. Resistance to change is common among service delivery and frontline workforces, as they are generally risk-averse and find no motivation in making changes. In addition, multiple public sector organizations are connected. Therefore, if one organization digitizes its processes, the others must follow suit to maintain their current levels of collaboration and information sharing.

For transformation to truly succeed, it is important that employees and their working methods update alongside the processes. A change in work culture is necessary to take full advantage of digital transformation and effectively use the tools provided to their maximum effect. The most important component of any organization is the people involved, and it will be necessary to train and upskill existing employees, as well as hire new talent with the required knowledge and proficiencies in modern digital processes.

5. Cost Effectiveness

A key digital transformation challenge in the public sector is managing the costs associated with an organization-wide modernization. Budget constraints on digital transformation can be a result of viewing technology expenditure as additional operational cost rather than a strategic investment. It is a comprehensive, multifaceted process, and, as such, requires substantial experience for successful execution. In addition, without promising data of the benefits of new technologies, governmental organizations find it challenging to make a case for such investments.

Heading into a project of this magnitude without defined objectives and goals can result in several roadblocks and hidden costs, which will delay the transition process and increase related expenses. It’s best to collaborate with an experienced digital partner who can help organizations understand their needs and develop a customized roadmap to navigate their digital transformation initiative.

Digital transformation is an ongoing commitment. Modernizing processes to stay relevant is a necessity, but these digital transformation challenges can seem daunting. With a deep understanding of these difficulties, we help unfold the real value of digital transformation in the public sector. Infosys Public Services has decades of experience assisting organizations navigate such challenges and successfully digitize their processes. We help organizations work on the five principal areas that are the foundation of successful digital transformation. Contact us to learn more about these areas and strategies to address the biggest challenges of a digital transformation.

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