In brief

In brief

  • The COVID-19 crisis shook loose many long-held assumptions about how and where government agencies can deliver services.
  • The Accenture Technology Vision 2021 for public service study affirms that Canadian public service leaders recognize opportunities to build on this momentum.
  • Through this year’s research, Accenture has identified five trends shaping the new era of public service.
  • Canadian Public service organizations are exploring ways to translate these opportunities into outcomes.

Opportunities accelerated

The COVID-19 crisis compounded longstanding challenges but also unleashed opportunities to overhaul how public services are delivered. It radically accelerated changes that governments knew were coming but did not expect to see so soon.

In the last 12 months, however, they have been forced to rethink how they make technology decisions and investments. Forty-four percent of Canadian public service leaders reported ramping up their use of cloud technologies in direct response to the crisis.

And the crisis has provided undeniable evidence of why cloud is not just a nice-to-have. Readily available platforms and data are critical to supporting joined-up public service decision making and service delivery in a world of relentless change.

While immediate changes are clear, there is less clarity than ever into what the long-term future holds. What we do know: The journey of reinvention has only just begun.

Become a change expert at a moment of truth

Public service organizations now face a set of circumstances they have never seen before.

On one hand, there is widespread and accelerated digital transformation coupled with the digital building blocks to create almost anything. On the other are blank slates waiting for the next vision of the future to be defined. Combined, it could be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to actively shape the future almost from the ground up.

This challenge demands a new kind of leadership. Leading in the uncertain future will require Canadian public service organizations to become change experts.


of Canadian public service leaders agree that their organization’s business and technology strategies are becoming inseparable—even indistinguishable.

People and the world need leaders who will look beyond today’s triage effort and start building what comes next. While it might be tempting for governments to retreat to what they know, 2020 made clear that they need a different path forward.

Public service organizations have proven that they can innovate quickly. Why revert to old ways of thinking and working? By maintaining a clear-eyed perspective and sharp focus on expedited digital transformations – reimagining everything from their people to data, technology, architectures and ecosystems – they will be better positioned to solve some of the world’s thorniest problems while delivering better outcomes to the people, businesses and communities they serve.

In December of 2020, our research team surveyed Canadian public service respondents for Accenture Technology Vision 2021 for public service. The results revealed a much-changed landscape – and a need for a different type of leader. We explore each of the 2021 trends with a public sector lens, examining how they impact this industry and what we must get right.


Mark Lambert

Managing Director – Federal Public Service, Canada

Dave Telka

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Public Service, Canada

Breffni Brennan

Managing Director – Technology Strategy for Canadian Public Sector

Laura Clements

Managing Director – Consulting, Talent & Organization, Federal Public Service, Canada

Laura Matthews

Director – Strategy & Consulting

Rod Kelly

Managing Director – Canadian Software Engineering Lead


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