Want to check your bank balance? There’s an app for that. Need to make an urgent, last-minute purchase? Not only is there an app for that, there’s also the option to have it delivered on the same day to a convenient location. Technology-driven interactions have become near-ubiquitous in our lives, leading to the creation of digital identities that can be used by organisations to provide personalised products and services. The Accenture Technology Vision 2019 calls this trend Get to Know Me.

Keeping up with citizen demands

As customers, we have become increasingly more familiar with and accustomed to these personalised services, leading to a rise in expectations. And that’s by no means limited to the private sector. Citizens now expect their public service organisations to provide consistent, relevant experiences at the point of service, using channels most suited to them. Whether filing tax returns or applying for a university place, citizens expect a digitally-enabled, seamless interaction with every organisation they deal with.

However, bringing personalised services to an ever more diverse population – and, critically, doing so at speed and scale – requires an agile, adaptable organisation and an empowered workforce, focused on driving exceptional outcomes for those they serve. I’ve seen many public service organisations make huge strides towards building these qualities, but there are others that continue to fall short and miss out on meeting citizens’ needs. To achieve agility and adaptability, public service organisations must build advanced analytics capabilities to better understand their customers as well as breaking down siloes within their own organisation and across government.

Ensuring trust in the digital age

Technology has the potential to change the relationship between governments and citizens from provider and client to one of partnership. But in my opinion, there is a careful line to tread between services that citizens welcome as useful and those that they may perceive to be intrusive. That’s not always an easy judgment to make. Some may welcome the chance to digitise as many of their interactions with public services as possible, while others may have no desire to interact through new channels and share their data. And there are those that have little to no technology footprint at all. With an obligation to serve all citizens equally, governments need to ensure that they can respect individuals’ boundaries and preferences to maintain and build trust. Citizens need to feel that the reason governments want to get to know them is to provide help and not to help themselves.

Secure US to Secure CITIZENS

Increasingly, the help that public service organisations provide is coming from a wide range of partners. Whether that’s for information or more direct, practical forms of support, the ecosystem of partners is expanding all the time. As it does, it raises clear challenges to keeping citizens and their data safe. This is another of the key Technology Vision trends (Secure US to Secure ME). As public service organisations become more connected and dependent on one another, the risks that threaten one organisation are amplified across the ecosystem.

For governments, it’s essential to safeguard citizens’ data as the foundation for trust. Think about how cities are evolving. The proliferation of connected devices and sensors will gather more and more citizen data, leading to a new generation of personalised services, and when 5G arrives that’s likely to expand exponentially. As governments continue to build these new connected environments, built on citizens’ data, they need to ensure that any potential vulnerabilities created by these complex ecosystems are understood and managed.

How do you think governments should manage personalised services in a way that is helpful, not intrusive? And how should they better secure themselves and citizens as part of an ever-growing ecosystem? If you’re interested in reading more on the trends shaping public services, take a look at the Accenture Technology Vision report.

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