November 29, 2016
Digital Technologies: The future of public services
By: Emma McGuigan

Digital technologies are integral to balancing fiscal responsibility with best-in-class public services. No longer just a tool for efficient service delivery, digital technologies can enable large-scale transformation in UK public services. As such, public service leaders, like their peers in the private sector, have begun to embrace a fundamentally different type of government. They are driving a more digital government, and using innovative technologies like social, mobile, analytics and cloud to transform their organisations and to deliver the more inclusive and efficient public services that citizens in this digital age demand. As such, our latest research highlights six traits of future-ready governments that can help the UK promote growth and competitiveness:

  1. Engaged citizenry

    Governments should look to engage with its citizens by creating live, online dialogue and by giving them a voice in the design and delivery of public services—along with the opportunity to provide feedback.

  2. Open and insight-driven services

    Governments should enable new digital economies, powered by open innovation and big data. They could also bring in other influencers—including developers—to shape these data-sets, design relevant applications and propose service improvements.

  3. Collaborative service ecosystem

    Governments should continue to work to provide an open platform that enables people inside and outside the government to innovate. By building a system on open-source technologies and service-oriented architectures, governments can work with various private- and third-sector providers to create innovative solutions at national and international levels.

  4. Government as a disruptor

    Future-ready governments must ramp up their risk-taking appetite, especially on the digital agenda, to create the next generation of game-changing public goods and services.

  5. Resilient, mission-critical infrastructure

    With governments handling an increased amount of sensitive personal data—from health records to tax payments—it is vital for them to handle customer information securely and transparently.

  6. Entrepreneurial and performance-driven public workforce

Along with upskilling public workers in technical and digital skills, governments should rethink their career models—empowering HR to experiment and make decisions that lead to the best outcomes. These traits illustrate important opportunities to improve public service performance and citizen satisfaction with government services. They point to government’s significant role in shaping and enabling the commercial digital economy with infrastructure investment, digital-friendly policy and public-private partnerships that stimulate innovation. Furthermore, disruptive trends, such as, smarter software, intelligent hardware, new technology platforms and human-machine collaboration, will continue to create vast opportunities for public service pioneers to fundamentally change the way government operates and interacts with citizens. Government cannot afford to ignore these trends, as their impact is poised to increase exponentially.

Public service leaders, therefore, need to embrace these trends and understand their impact on delivering more inclusive public services for the future whilst ensuring that digital trust is built and maintained. By observing digital innovations in the private sector, the public sector can tune in to important lessons learned, identify potential opportunities to leapfrog commercial thinking, and accelerate the benefits of digital government.

To find out more about this topic click here to listen to the full speech from Rt Ben Gummer MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General on the topic.

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