As a global community, we face an array of challenges, touching the professional and personal lives of everyone, and causing ripple effects throughout our public sectors and government agencies. These challenges have called for dramatic changes in how many public sectors operate and interact with their citizens. While the shift to different models of public service delivery was already beginning, the immediate urgency and need driven by the pandemic ushered in a new era for public service agencies. It pushed agencies to lead with impact and accelerate digital solutions like Accenture Virtual Visits Solution (AVVS), an innovation that is quickly transforming how organisations deliver essential citizen services around the world.   

I had the unique opportunity to talk with Darren Brown, Global Lead for Citizen Services at Avanade, and Greg McKay, Worldwide Public Sector Director of Public Health and Social Services at Microsoft, about the direct operational challenges federal agencies are faced with today, and how a powerful digital solution like AVVS is poised to better support and care for the world’s most vulnerable populations. 

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With Virtual Visits, public sectors can support vulnerable populations globally. See how from Accenture, Avanade, and Microsoft.

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What’s abundantly clear is the modernisation of government services can and will continue to play a central role in the public sector today. I’m grateful for the partnership Accenture, Avanade, and Microsoft have with the public service industry, because together, we can ensure technology not only drives impact, but does so with a human touch that’s so essential – for employees and citizens alike.  

Here are some highlights from our conversation. 

The pivot from in-person to video 

One experience that has become near universal is the break-down of our bias towards video to communicate. Something previously leveraged in a pinch, video is now relied upon to maintain contact and engagement with citizens and to provide critical services. The pandemic certainly drove momentum toward the AVVS solution and that presented us with an opportunity to show government agencies around the world the power of the platform.  

The pandemic saw a huge uptake in the use of Microsoft Teams within government agencies around the world. This was originally to enable agencies to maintain their own internal communications and keep services running, but Microsoft Teams is also the ideal platform to extend those services externally to constituents and beneficiaries. AVVS is jointly developed by Accenture and Avanade and leverages the Microsoft Teams stack to ensure a secure, reliable, and interactive virtual meeting channel. Designed with citizens in mind, the solution implements security services that allow agencies to maintain secure lobbies, confirm identities, and provide a lifeline to people who need immediate support.

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Driving impact then, and now  

As we move beyond the pandemic response, it’s going to be less about maintaining services now, and more about providing increasingly efficient and effective services going forward. Soon, we are going to see a serious consideration around what requires face-to-face interaction and what can be done virtually, and in some circumstances, virtual will be preferred. AVVS provides a secure, user friendly and very compelling interactive audio and video experience, creating a scenario that is more human, efficient, and cost effective.  

AVVS opens new pathways to human interaction, reducing operational expenses like mileage and transportation, and maximising the time case workers have with their clients. Demand for government services has routinely outpaced the resources available, but AVVS is a capacity builder, and through this technology, agencies can build efficiencies in care that help and support a constrained workforce. In addition, Millennial workforces call for more technology in the workforce and leveraging a tool like AVVS may help reduce employee turnover, helping them streamline important interactions by using today’s digital solutions.  

Through self-service appointment booking, virtual document sharing, and easy access from multiple device types, the solution also reduces the operational complexity for citizens, allowing them to get the care they need in a faster and more comfortable way. 

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Soon, we are going to see a serious consideration around what requires face-to-face interaction and what can be done virtually, and in some circumstances, virtual will be preferred.

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Seamless integration is key to success and versatility  

Any digital solution should allow for rapid deployment, molding itself to the government agency - both to their usual operational processes as well as integrating within their existing IT systems. This easy integration helps agencies quickly receive the benefits by not requiring a high degree of re-engineering and re-training. In other words, it should be easy to implement, and easy to use.  

AVVS does just that, and while it has been invaluable in the government and social services space, this easy integration has also allowed for applicability in other industries like finance and retail.  

Leading voices in public service 

AVVS helped the social services sector rethink, redesign, and recreate processes and ways of working. A necessity during the pandemic, it also built trust and engagement between the public and private sector, resulting in increased operational efficiency and an empowered workforce. But most importantly, it increased public confidence and contributed to the safety of citizens and staff.  

The public sector has an amazing opportunity to capitalise on the transformation already underway and successfully keep pace in this digital world. In doing so, they can truly meet employees and citizen when they are and equip them with the tools and digital solutions needed to connect their workforce, support their communities, and provide immediate and basic assistance when and where it’s needed most.  

Learn more about how we at Accenture, Avanade and Microsoft bring people and technology together to accelerate meaningful action, especially in the public sector.

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Rainer Binder

Global Social Services Lead

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