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September 28, 2017
Back Office as a Centre of Innovation: Put Emerging Tech to Work
By: Mark Howard

Enabling government HR to focus on finding, nurturing and retaining top-tier talent. Empowering government finance teams to create performance-focused organisations that are financially sustainable. And setting procurement free to seek out, develop and manage relationships to continuously improve service delivery. Those are the WHAT of transforming the government back office into a Centre of Innovation—an idea I’ve been exploring for the past few months.

With this post, I want to start shifting to the HOW—the tools and technologies that make such transformation possible. I’m talking about advanced analytics, intelligent processing, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and ERP as a platform, along with service design and agile implementation for bringing it all to life.

Accenture’s Global Citizen Survey found that seven in 10 citizens feel that public agencies could provide a better customer experience by using the latest technologies. Meanwhile, our Public Service Emerging Technologies research reveals that whether thinking of IoT, machine learning, video analytics or biometrics/identity analytics, agencies were clear that their top motivation is increasing citizen satisfaction.

There’s no question that high citizen satisfaction and efficient public service delivery are critical goals. But citizen-facing services aren’t the only area that can benefit from emerging tech. The government back office has just as many opportunities to put these innovations to work. Using artificial intelligence or other forms of intelligent processing can help alleviate the burden of transaction processing. Advanced analytics can support greater speed, sophistication and efficiency in compliance monitoring. And rather than posing threats to jobs in the government back office, emerging technologies can help make these positions more satisfying and more rewarding. Let automation handle the mundane and repetitive tasks. Free the people to focus on high-value, high-impact work that leads to better services for agencies and, ultimately, better citizen services and outcomes.

For inspiration, consider examples of agencies already embracing emerging technologies:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services piloted use of natural language processing to help automate sorting and review of public comments—a highly labour-intensive process. The pilot identified a method that can save up to 300,000 employee hours on future reviews.

  • The Australian Tax Office is using voiceprint ID—an innovative technology that could save 75,000 workforce hours per year and, ultimately, offers tangible benefits to all sorts of government call centres.

  • A large federal government ministry in Italy is using AI to handle helpdesk calls. In just 16 months, the helpdesk went from handling 35 percent to 95 percent of requests with AI. Customer satisfaction is up 85 percent while helpdesk staff went from 50 to five—with most of those workers now focusing on delivering more individualised support or working on other helpdesks.

In the next few posts, I’ll dive into some of the specific technologies and methods that can play important roles in transforming the government back office. For now, please weigh in with your thoughts, questions and suggestions. For more information about bringing the back office to the forefront of government innovation, visit us here, and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

See this post on LinkedIn: Back Office as a Centre of Innovation: Put Emerging Tech to Work

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