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Using Information Technology to Liberate Social Security
As a result of the post-World War II baby boom, more workers than ever in developed countries are now retiring and preparing to tap into the benefits of social security. And this is happening just when the economies are not well placed to support them and when other demographic trends (such as unprecedented mobility of labor forces across and within country borders and between employers) are challenging old ideas of how to administer social security.
With such growing volume and demand, the need for integrated, client-centric services is more acute than ever.
So how can IT transform the future of social security service delivery?
The future of social security is marked by possibilities for agencies to collaborate with government to tear down siloes and redesign products and processes based on what is possible, rather than what is predictable.
Information technology (IT) has often been overlooked within social security agencies. A focus on paper has led to the current social security landscape burdened by siloed product delivery, regional focus, demand for paper-based evidence and a reliance on human decision-making. Redundancy and inefficiency, built in from the start, have only strengthened their roots over time.
Integrating IT services can provide a basis to revamp how agencies interact with clients and clients interact with products. This integration can lead to complementary, yet clearly defined, services with a focus on customization for each population segment.
The data available to social security agencies allows a great opportunity for analytics to better understand the characteristics and motivations of clients, allowing agencies to design systems that suit the needs of customers and offer automated or self-service systems for customers most likely to use them.
Information technology allows social security agencies to focus on key areas, including:
IntegrationSingle-point-of-access service creates efficiencies while minimizing customers’ cost to be served. One portal for access allows for shared information through a central IT system at the foundation. Wherever possible, this data can then be shared with other government agencies and even across borders, meaning modifications only need to be completed in one place without redundancy. Services mapped to customer needs can then be assessed to provide the proper service mix, with delivery via customer preferred online or offline channels.
Customization of ServicesEfficiencies with IT integration leads to customized delivery to ensure population segments receive the services they need. Availability of data and assessment of analytics allows for a greater understanding of services needed and design of systems to suit the needs of different customer groups. The move away from paper also enables a reduction in resource staff by reducing application processing—creating greater staff capacity to focus on value-added work and aiding those most in need of human interaction.
Less Fraud and WasteFraud and error represent one of the great challenges for social security agencies. Both fraud and waste undermine the efficacy and trust in a system and can reinforce each other. Forward-thinking social security agencies implementing a holistic strategy covering prevention, detection, measurement, compliance incentives and effective sanctions are doing so with the help of analytics provided within an integrated IT system. These analytics can work to identify potential fraud and loss while also providing a greater amount of flexibility and transparency.
Integrated IT systems that support a holistic view of the customer can provide the basis for tailored and transparent services from agencies. Central IT systems allow for one-stop-shop services through a variety of access channels, including self- service, mobile and customer service centers.
Furthermore, with the help of tools such as analytics, agencies can identify the right set of incentives or sanctions, and also the products or programs to focus on to ensure that citizens are getting all that they need.
We recognize that IT is not about simply automating current processes or just reducing cost. Social security agencies should use IT as a key enabler to rethink how social security can and should be delivered and consumed.
May 3, 2012
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