If the recent global pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we must be prepared to adapt quickly to disruptions within the workplace. To adapt quickly, government agencies cannot rely on old legacy systems and solutions. They cannot solve today’s problems with yesterday’s technology. With the recent spending on the global pandemic, one could argue that governments should put a break on their digital transformation efforts to concentrate on addressing the health and well-being of their citizens.
Such arguments, while valid, underscores the importance of digital transformation, and assumes that one can separate societal well-being from a society that is widely connected digitally. It is not a coincidence that digitally savvy organizations that were quick to adapt to the changing business environment and consumer behaviors amid the crisis were the ones who, not only survived, but increased their revenue.
The Importance of Digital Transformation in the Public Sector
Digital transformation provides government agencies the speed and agility to reach citizens during crisis, enhances supply chain and speeds up communication between governments and their citizens. According to KMPG, potential advantages of public sector digitization include:
- Improvements to the speed and effectiveness of decision-making and service provision,
- Reduction of costs by targeting resources more precisely,
- Better outcomes by drawing on expertise within and outside of the government; and
- Increased transparency and accountability.
Digital transformation is becoming essential for meeting citizens’ needs. So much so that the advantages of digital transformation are too great to wait. According to Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum,
“Ultimately, the ability of government systems and public authorities to adapt will determine their survival. If they prove capable of embracing a world of disruptive change, subjecting their structures to the levels of transparency and efficiency that will enable them to maintain their competitive edge, they will endure. If they cannot evolve, they will face increasing trouble.”
Across the world, governments have adopted some level of digital transformation, but there is still more work to be done. From a 2019 KMPG survey, 46% of respondents believe their organization trails other departments when it comes to adopting new technologies for transforming business processes.
What Will it Take for Government Agencies to Transform?
For government agencies to digitally transform their operations to provide faster and better services to their citizens, the public sector must work with private sector to focus on the following:
Increase Adoption of Cloud Technologies
- Digital transformation starts with cloud services. Cloud technologies offer many advantages:
- Government agencies do not have to support aging legacy systems, saving them operational disruption and support costs.
- Cloud adoption reduces capital investment costs, freeing up capital for other needed programs.
- Cloud opens avenues for agencies to develop scalable and secure custom applications.
- The cloud gives agencies access to a vast array of technologies, including database, analytics, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and many more.
- Government agencies can work with modern applications without worrying about upgrades.
Invest in Business Application Platforms and Systems
- Government agencies will need to digitize everyday tasks and operations to provide better services for their citizens.
- Automating workflows frees up public sector workforces to engage more on strategic initiatives.
- Establishing governance policies into applications enforces compliance, limits oversight costs and provides consistency in public service delivery.
- Helps eliminate personal biases when dealing with citizens.
- Streamlines operations for better services to citizens.
Risk Management and Compliance and Privacy
- With increases in cybersecurity threats, government agencies must invest in cloud security and adopt the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework to strengthen their security posture to safeguard critical infrastructure.
- Data privacy is critical if agencies are to continuously earn the trust of their citizens.
Rely on Data Platforms and Analytics
- Cloud solutions provide the data solutions and platform to store and analyze citizen data, gain better insight into the data to provide better services, streamline budgets and invest in technology and other infrastructure needs where they are needed the most.
Training Public Sector Workforces
- For government agencies to meet its workforce needs and address the gap in digital transformation, they must invest in training and development of their workforce. Training must not only focus on technology and business operational needs, but must also address leadership and management competencies.
Are you still solving today’s problems with yesterday’s technology? Society today is more digitally connected than ever, and there is no sign of this slowing down. For government agencies to meet the needs of their citizens and businesses, they must digitally transform their operations and services. While there is consensus on the need for public sector to speed its digital transformation, there are concerns that spending on the pandemic could slow down efforts. Providing for the well-being of citizens and digitally transforming operations work hand-in-hand. Therefore, the public sector must work with the private sector to speed its digital transformation.