The Accenture Technology Vision 2019 is our annual report that highlights and examines the key trends that will shape the world over the next three to five years. This year’s overall theme, The Post-Digital World, is as relevant to the public sector as the private.

So what do we mean by ‘post-digital’? It’s really the fact that people now expect most of what they do, and all the organisations they interact with, to support digital ways of operating. The novelty of being able to, say, transact online or engage with a chatbot for information has passed. What was just a few years ago out of the ordinary has become run of the mill. That’s not to say that the work of digital transformation is over. Far from it. Organisations are constantly evolving. But as people become accustomed to engaging with personalised and on-demand digital experiences, their provision is becoming normalised and expected.

Our overall theme is supported by five trends this year – DARQ Power, Get to Know Me, Human+ Worker, Secure Us to Secure Me and MyMarkets. They each point to the deepening of digital capabilities and possibilities throughout every organisation. Ranging from the new human + machine workforce to the criticality of securing beyond the enterprise and across the ecosystem, I’ll be exploring these topics – and their impact on the public sector – in greater depth in subsequent blogs.

Citizens want to be able to interact with government through digital at a time and place that’s convenient to them. As such, digital is becoming a basic requirement of interacting with both business and citizens. Of course, many parts of the public sector are not competing for citizens’ attention in the same way as companies in the private sector do. But they still have to make sure that citizens are able to comply with laws and policies – and digital is increasingly important to achieving that.

Other parts of the public sector, though, are competing for citizens’ attention and engagement. Education services, for example, need to make sure that they can provide easy to use, tailored digital services. Many universities depend on the flow of students into their courses for their revenue. Offering the right kind of experience to the ‘post-digital’ generation who make up the vast majority of those students is essential.

As well as delivering new ways to engage and inform, some technologies are creating big challenges for government. The same restrictions that cover personal data and the need for privacy and confidentiality apply in the public sector just as much – and in some cases more – as in the private. Other emerging technologies also create unique headaches for government. Take drones, for example. The misuse of this technology – malicious or otherwise – was responsible for seriously disrupting flights from the UK’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, over three days at the end of December 2018. These threats created by new technologies, place the onus on government to develop an effective response that can maximise their benefits at the same time as ensuring public safety.

And as technology continues to evolve rapidly, governments must investigate how the next wave of disruptive tech might impact their organisations and how they operate. That means exploring ‘DARQ’ technologies (distributed ledger, AI, XR and AR and quantum computing) now in order to understand the new operating models and capabilities they may support in future. At the same time, public sector organisations need to continue their journeys with today’s ‘SMAC’ technologies (social, mobile, analytics, cloud), to make sure that they continue to meet the needs and expectations of today’s – and tomorrow’s – citizens.

The road ahead for public service organisations is both challenging and exciting. In this series of blogs I’ll be looking at some of the trends in our Technology Vision 2019 in more detail, highlighting the promise (and potential pitfalls) of the fast-changing technology landscape and what it means for our industry. You can be the first to read these blogs by following me on LinkedIn.

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