The transformation to customer-centric digital services may prove to be more complex for public service organizations than for other industries. Digital transformation must deliver user-oriented design, renewal of service processes, interoperability of services, and information security and data protection. The problem is that current legacy systems can’t be scaled up to fulfil these needs, and therefore cloud computing has become imperative in the public sector.

 Journey to cloud

Thanks to the high level of social trust in the Nordic societies, Nordic countries have for the past five years retained top ten spots in Institute for Management Development’s (IMD) global digital competitiveness rankings. As important as social trust is to make the societies flourish, it is also a double-edged sword: trust is awarded only if expectations are met. The people in the Nordics cherish their well-functioning and secure public services, but now their ever-growing expectation for customer-centric and digital services call governments to truly harness digital.

The journey to cloud is not just a tech investment, it is a wake-up call to develop existing work methods and practices to enhance service and operations. The agility and interoperability of cloud technology makes it the best solution when agencies pursue their purpose of truly customer-centric services. Cloud as a platform provides public service agencies the four urgently needed features to meet the customer expectations that legacy systems cannot: flexibility, speed, security, and cost-efficiency.

First, cloud equals flexibility

To ensure the much-needed flexibility, cloud must be designed to overcome the data-silos and be controlled from above. As knowledge-based management, customer-centric and digital ways of work boost processes, information must also be managed differently. Control over the data’s location, access and processing are often seen as barrier for the needed flexibility, but through sovereign cloud solutions governments can master both the control and flexibility.

The public sector’s need for speed is the second imperative for cloud

People must be able to trust that public services are available when and where they need them. Cloud makes governments faster, as it enhances innovation, tech development and ability to scale-up tech innovation quickly. Only by creating a cloud solution with a viable architecture, the public sector can scale-up knowledge-based management or new technologies such as AI or blockchains swiftly.

With agile cloud solutions, consumption can be dialed up and down on demand, allowing cost-conscious agencies to monitor spend closely, while enabling more data-centric services.

Security is the essence of trust, especially with public services

Due to their role in guarding personal data, public service agencies have been cautious when it comes to early adoption of new technologies. In fact, with cloud many of these risks can be mitigated. When in action, cloud benefits information security and secure data storage by streamlining the processes.

As cloud services enhance organization's agility, it also takes security to the next level. Cloud enables security capabilities and controls to be deployed in minutes or hours, rather than months. Cloud-enabled automation also makes it possible to establish preemptive controls to block incidents from happening and reduce work and additional costs incurred by having to re-do work.

With public services, cyber-attacks will not be expensive just economically; the societal outcomes and loss of trust in the government that are priceless.

Ensure trust remains also in the future

Each public service agency should now start defining, in its own terms, the value and steps of moving to cloud. Nordic countries are uniquely positioned as their social trust is a pivotal factor to complete the journey into customer-centric public services – and to foster this trust also for future generations.

Konstantin Vdovenko
Managing Director, Health & Public Services, Finland

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