Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Ryan Oakes, Global Public Service Lead at Accenture and Julia Glidden, Corporate Vice President Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, to discuss the evolving relationship between the public sector and its citizens. In the first video of our four-part series, we explored the immediate and urgent impact COVID-19 had on our public service agencies worldwide, what citizen care might look like in this next normal, and how the modernisation of government services can drive impact.  

We also discussed the central question: how can the public sector keep pace and adapt, without losing sight of humanity? Through modernisation and digital transformation, we found that government services can help their internal workforce operate more efficiently while still feeling connected, and that by leveraging digital solutions, agencies can better support and care for the world’s most vulnerable populations. 

The unique partnership between Accenture, Avanade, and Microsoft can help governments and public services agencies meet citizens not where they are, but where they want to be.

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I learned so much from both Ryan and Julia, it was truly a pleasure to speak with them. Here are some key points from our conversation.   

Technology can bring people together  

Technology is core to better serving citizens and helping government employees provide much needed care in a more streamlined way, and Accenture’s Virtual Visits Solution is a key example. Albeit virtual, this solution is arguably more human, efficient, and cost effective than the face-to-face alternative. It also changes the experience for the social worker, who is able to support more families and spend less time scheduling visits and managing paperwork. With Virtual Visits, the social worker is able to focus on their core mission, which is helping people in need.  

Ryan did a great job personifying the real impact Virtual Visits can make by sharing the following anecdote with us:  

To use an example from one of our clients, we tracked a single mom with two small kids trying to get access to the social services of their particular jurisdiction. This required two bus transfers and 3-4 hours because they were required to sit in a physical building, wait in a line, and sign documents. Now, that can all be virtually.”  

That’s just one example of many that actualise the way digital solutions can provide more humane, efficient ways of providing citizen support. Together, we can help agencies better connect to their citizens, helping them provide much needed access to essential services, so people can move forward and continue providing stability for themselves and their families.  

Bridging the digital divide is essential  

Governments must think intentionally to ensure that with all the transformation, human touch and connection remains alive and well. When thinking about public service today and tomorrow, personal interactions between citizens and government employees will be increasingly more important. And as we all shift to more virtual and digital interactions, it is imperative that we recognise the digital divide that still exists, and actively work to close it.  

To underscore the importance, Julia shared this statistic with us: 93% of the world’s population is living within reach of mobile broadband, but only 53% of the world’s population can actually use it (International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Facts and Figures 2019 report). As we work with government agencies to modernise their services it will be crucial to ensure every citizen has affordable access to the internet and is able to leverage these new digital services in a meaningful way. 

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After hearing from both Ryan and Julia, the key takeaway for me, was better understanding how these digital changes can be so beneficial to citizens around the world. While the pandemic may have pushed governments and agencies to accelerate the modernisation of their services, it has also served as a catalyst to rethink what it means to meet and connect together and how best to serve and support our citizens moving forward. Ultimately, it’s about helping governments and agencies embrace today’s technologies, to provide citizens with more digitally-enabled, connected, safe, and secure services in the future. 

Leading voices in public service 

This video is part of an ongoing series called Leading Voices in Public Service with Microsoft, a unique opportunity to explore how governments and agencies can keep pace in a constantly changing world. Tune in to hear more stories from leaders at Accenture, Avanade and Microsoft, as together, we talk about the challenges facing the public sector today and how, through partnership and innovation, we can create new pathways to human interaction, support, and stability.   

Be sure to follow me on LinkedIn to catch the entire series, and to learn more about how we at AccentureAvanade and Microsoft bring people and technology together to accelerate meaningful action, especially in the public sector.  

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Emma McGuigan

Global Lead – Intelligent Platform Services

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