Governments in all jurisdictions, right across Australia and New Zealand, and around the world are digitally transforming with the aim of providing richer and easy to use services and engaging more actively with citizens as we confront today’s uncertainties together, says Patrick Bodegraven, General Manager - Public Sector and Liam Newman, Strategy and Operations Consultant, Australia and New Zealand.
We often think about ways technology is improving our communities, but we pay less attention to the power of digital in transforming how governments deliver services that empower and benefit citizens. From health, education, social security and transport … the challenges of recent months have focused attention on Governments, as citizens have looked for leadership and support. Governments across all jurisdictions have been quick to leverage new technology as part of their Business Continuity Plans (BCP) and they have also stepped up and accelerated their digital transformation with the aim of improving engagement and service efficiency.
Q: How can technology improve the way we build and manage our communities?
There is ever-increasing demand for better performance of our community infrastructure including smart power grids, energy-efficient offices and electric cars. The Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics and applying Analytics to Big Data are empowering governments to enhance and construct resilient infrastructure to support growing communities and modern uses. Intelligent, connected and sustainable infrastructure can help us improve the way we manage resources including scarce natural resources with an improved ability to monitor safety and use. Digital technology is facilitating a move towards a shared services delivery model which enables organisations to consolidate common operations, reduce costs and concentrate resources on activities that directly support key functions.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain are unlocking efficiencies and rapid improvements in areas such as compliance as well as visibility in record-keeping, transactions and the allocation of resources. Automating business processes is vastly reducing errors and freeing up staff from repetitive tasks while data Analytics is facilitating greater insights and visibility over the management of resources enabling departments to be smarter in their decision-making. Technology really is driving the way we build our communities and how governments provide services to create a better experience for citizens.
Q: How can we use digital technology to improve outcomes for citizens and our communities?
Citizens today expect a personalised approach to public service delivery and experience just as they do when engaging with the private sector. Social networking and mobile applications have become key facilitators for community engagement and will play an increasingly important role in enabling individuals to access important information and services as well as ask questions, report concerns or provide feedback in a fast and convenient way. These tools are also enabling greater access, input and participation of the community which is leading to a more informed and collaborative approach to the design of services.
Q: How can we use technology to improve efficiencies in the design and delivery of our services?
The Government continues to place their citizen customers at the heart of policy development and policy implementation. However, developing and delivering more efficient and personalised services for citizens can be challenging. Digital technology can be an enabler in helping to design and deliver public services by leveraging the citizen data, and using the insights gained from analysing the data to improve service efficiency. We have already seen examples of this:
- Think of the way chatbots are helping individuals engage with government services including booking appointments, facilitating additional teaching support for students and cross-referring individuals to social security services.
- In areas such as transport, technology plays a role in helping to keep communities safe. New apps will help people plan their routes while also providing governments important data about demand for services.
However, as governments gather more data, and identify new ways to leverage it in more sophisticated digital solutions issues such as privacy and security need to be addressed to ensure the trust between the government and their citizens is maintained.
Q: How can we use technology to leverage the capabilities of our government networks to provide better, more integrated services?
The Federal Government provides services to the community through its network of departments, agencies and partnerships with the private sector. A key challenge for all governments has been ensuring that people, no matter where they are, can access important government services and personal information, quickly and easily. Digital technology can be used to better integrate Federal Government networks and develop a consolidated view of individuals and their “citizen journeys”, to enable different government departments and agencies to collaborate and provide “end-to-end” solutions. For example, the birth of a child is a life changing event that requires multiple interactions with different government departments.
Engaging with the right departments and agencies at the right time can be time consuming and confusing. Greater information sharing enables departments and agencies to develop a more personalised engagement for individuals by proactively leading them through the “citizen journey” and required government processes. By embracing the networks of government and private enterprise to develop a digital ecosystem we can further enrich the citizen experience.
Q: How can we truly unlock the power of digital ecosystems for citizens?
Governments must continue to focus on investing in digital transformation and create an environment where integrated initiatives will succeed by removing internal barriers. Governments must also embrace the private sector and leverage their experience, capability and ecosystems. By collaborating with new partners to create new services and moving beyond rigid planning and operational barriers with an agile strategic approach, governments will be fully equipped to understand, adapt and deliver an exceptional citizen experience.
Q: How will today’s environment change the way government interacts with citizens in future?
The changes we have all made to the way we live will not change the governments’ longer term vision to better enable digital technology to interact with citizens. This is something local, state and federal governments have been working towards for some time, but we do expect it to accelerate digital enablement. We also expect that governments will be intently listening to the communities they service and learn from the recent experiences. The private sector and community groups have great input, providing feedback and advising governments on ways to improve processes and services, and will continue to do so.
For example, we anticipate the renewed public sensitivity to health could trigger changes to the way services are provided. Solutions like telehealth and virtual care applications are underpinned by digital enablement. This collaborative approach to problem solving will continue to provide benefits including rapid transition and approval of new ways to meet citizen needs.
Q: What can we learn from TCS’s experiences?
Governments must be nimble and agile in how they respond to citizens needs in today’s ever-changing environment. Harnessing the power of ecosystems is a key pillar of any successful digital transformation. TCS has expertise in helping governments around the world understand this leading framework and ways to implement it to enhance services and experiences. Adopting design thinking approaches opens creative problem solving and promotes greater collaboration with business and community groups in being part of that picture. TCS’s global reach and scale adds huge benefits with insights coming from around the world.
Importantly, TCS also understands the key priorities and challenges of businesses across a diverse range of industries from banking, mining, manufacturing and retail. We understand how digital can be employed to help governments, businesses and communities collaborate better to achieve better outcomes for our future.