We live in a time of unprecedented change, as digital technologies transform the way we interact, work, live and consume services. Increasingly, this change is being driven and enabled by an increased usage of artificial intelligence (AI)—a trend that’s seeing new forms of alliance emerge between human and machines, augmenting capabilities on both sides.
Because of the vital role human services plays as an interface between government and citizens they are on the front line of the transformation of human/machine relationships. One specific area where this transformation will take place is the ability to relieve people of repetitive and routine tasks, and simultaneously creating new capacity for resources to serve people. Additionally, AI will create major opportunities for human service organisations to tackle many of the most intractable problems they face—like the challenge of processing thousands of pieces of repetitive information or analysing vast amounts of unstructured data available about persons at risks, creating connections and enabling better and more proactive service interventions for people at risk.
Currently most human service delivery is constrained by rather inflexible service models, which limit the ability to view citizens holistically and provide more personalised services. For example, with more intelligent process powered by AI the attributes of successful job candidates could be better understood and training services developed to help unemployed youth build those skills, improving their chances to find employment. As this example illustrates, human service leaders and the people they serve can realise better outcomes from the successful implementation of AI based processes.
To fully realise the benefits of AI, leaders in human services will need to develop and implement intelligent processes that improve speed, increase insight and optimise decision-making in order to offer proactive and personalised support at key moments in the lives of citizens.
All of this can be achieved, through AI’s ability to help agencies do things differently and better, enabling them to:
Increase capacity – “Automate” – through capabilities like BOTs and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Simple and routine tasks like data entry or forms processing can be handled through AI processes, enabling valuable human resources to have more capacity to personalise engagement and focus on developing new services.
Perceive the world – “Sense” – through capabilities like text processing, computer imaging, audio processing and sensor processing. Use historical unstructured information such as case notes, court records, policy manuals, video and audio files of case interviews to generate insights about what worked best in the past for specific categories of beneficiaries.
Analyse and understand – “Comprehend” – through natural language processing and knowledge representation. Cognitive solutions that can process text, images and speech—interpreting, organising, and explaining patterns and drawing conclusions, and assigning probabilities to expected outcomes.
Make more informed decisions – “Act” – through inference engines, machine learning and expert systems. Providing AI tools to support less experienced staff in identifying best-fit program options. Collecting feedback from people and agencies to identify the best recommendation or conclusion.)
In combination, these capabilities will enable the human services industry to continuously create room for new and/or improved services, whilst reducing the need for skilled workers to be encumbered with repetitive tasks, creating capacity for better service delivery. With this enhanced capability, AI will help agencies not only to “do things differently,” but also to go further and “do different things"—like delivering more personalised elderly services by using AI to collect insights about behaviours, needs, interests and life patterns to determine the best course of action for service engagement.
By harnessing the power of AI to create a single view of the citizen, human services can develop a new generation of offerings that are more personalised and human-centric, and that create a seamless customer experience. Using the ability of AI to automate and enable self-service, people can be empowered to interact seamlessly with intelligent systems and with creative, emotionally intelligent humans to get an enhanced level of “human touch” that is more responsive to their needs.
All of this will put AI at the heart of the intelligence-powered human services agency of the future. In my next blog, I’ll go on to look at how agencies can start the journey—and what use cases they should tackle first.
To find out more about the intelligence-powered human services agency, download our point of view here.