We can probably all agree that the last year has been full of change, disruption, and recovery – particularly as you look at the way government has had to transform how it supports and interacts with citizens and runs its operations. We have seen dramatic operational pivots as entire organisations moved from physical to virtual, requiring the public sector to rethink and reimagine citizen care and service overnight.

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. Together, we explored the unique operational challenges agencies are faced with, the digital solutions many are leveraging to stay connected to their workforce and support their citizens, and how the modernisation of government services can continue to play a central role in the public sector today. It was a great conversation!

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The next normal for Public Service with Microsoft

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As we touched on topics ranging from the pandemic, to digital skilling, to the opportunities ahead, it’s clear that the unique partnership between Accenture, Avanade, and Microsoft is poised to help governments and public service agencies lead with impact, ensuring that opportunities aren't merely captured, but capitalized upon. By embracing modernisation and technology, government services can truly meet citizens where they are, better serve their internal workforce, and ensure that whether virtually or in-person, that element of human interaction and understanding in public sector work is still alive and well.

Here are some highlights from our initial conversation.

With great challenge comes great opportunity

Amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic, there was an immediate and urgent need to serve and support citizens, no matter what the circumstances, and the public sector rose to the challenge. Consider the complexity of governments – revenue, social services, corrections, courts, social benefits, etc. – to ensure government workers had the access and ability to quickly support citizens, an immense operational change was imperative.

But with this change came greater utilisation of technology, and now that digital tools such as virtual visits and video enabled justice have been accelerated, there is now a very real opportunity to make digital-driven modernisation part of every government’s long-term journey.

The next normal

The crisis has been a catalyst to change the way governments operate, and “going back to normal” is not an option. Together, we need to think in terms of the next normal, because as we shift to a more globally connected world, traditional governance structures are not built to resolve the digital challenges of today and tomorrow, nor the evolving expectations of citizens going forward.

The future is focused on recovery and resiliency, and while great strides have already been made, let’s continue to accelerate progress in the face of change. We are working diligently with agencies around the world to build solutions that continue to expedite essential services in a safe and virtual way, while maintaining that human element that is so needed within the public sector.

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Shifting from transactions to relationships

The main takeaway, for partners like us, and for our government and agency clients around the world, is about leading with value to drive better results for our citizens. That means meeting citizens, not where they are, but where they want to be.

Now and in the future, successful governments will develop citizen experiences that meet the digital needs of society and put this at the core of their organisation’s strategy. This means guaranteeing that resources are both allocated purposefully and delivered effectively, providing citizens with personalized and more human focused experiences, and fostering trust in government through transparency and communication.

To ensure a digitisation of government services, we need to build greater collaboration and partnership with the public sector. The need for digital skilling in government is acute and this provides clients with a chance to lean in and foster knowledge transfer and digital skills development, helping these public service employees connect and build relationships with their co-workers and citizen populations, no matter where they are.

Leading voices in public service

This video is the kick-off to 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. In future episodes, you’ll hear stories of resilience and struggle, zeroing in on why it is so important that we as leaders in public service equip governments and agencies with the tools to streamline their resources, support their workforce, and provide help and assistance to their most vulnerable populations.

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

Emma McGuigan

Global Lead – Intelligent Platform Services

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