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People first: The importance of people in border services in the digital age

Border agencies that embrace digital will put people first

Overview

The Accenture Technology Vision 2016

We are in the midst of a major technology revolution—specifically, a digital revolution. Digital is influencing all the world’s economies—the United States alone has a digital economy valued at around US$5.9 trillion, which equates to 33 percent of its gross domestic product. We are also seeing an important new shift as the technology revolution begins to put people first. To put it simply, as organisations become digital, their people and cultures must become digital, too. As technology advancements continue to accelerate at an unprecedented rate, dramatically disrupting the workforce, organisations that both utilise these technologies and enable their stakeholders to do more with them will have unmatched capabilities. As a result, these organisations will be better positioned to continuously create fresh ideas, increase efficiencies and develop cutting-edge products and services. So what does this all mean for those working in the border services ecosystem (immigration, transportation, borders, and customs)? How will these changes help them to create the digital border agency of the future?

The Accenture Technology Vision 2016 identifies the emerging IT developments that will have the greatest impact on people, businesses, government agencies and other organisations in the next few years. The study outlines five technology trends, fuelled by the people first principle, that are essential to success in a border services environment that is increasingly digital. How will these trends shape the future of border services agencies?

Intelligent Automation

Intelligent
Automation

The essential new co-worker for the digital age

Liquid Workforce

Liquid
Workforce

Building the workforce for today's digital demands

Platform Economy

Platform
Economy

Technology-driven business model innovation from the outside in

Predictable Disruption

Predictable
Disruption

Looking to digital ecosystems for the next wave of change

Digital Trust

Digital
Trust

Strengthening customer relationships through ethics and security

Trend 1

Trend 1

Intelligent Automation
The essential new co-worker for the digital age

Immense volumes of data are now available to border agencies, and new technology innovations in the areas of analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and systems are getting smarter. Weaving the data, people, and systems together creates an opportunity to develop solutions that will drive new levels of operational efficiency, provide border agencies with an ability to react to the changing nature of travel and trade, and help them understand and detect illicit behaviours in real time. Border agencies will be better equipped to react to a wide range of events—from health issues such as the Zika outbreak, to predicting illicit cross-border trade activity, to coping with changing legislative environments that result in new trade agreements and immigration policies.

By introducing more automation in tasks that are considered repetitive, dangerous, or too complex for human actors, staff can be better equipped with the right tools and information. In this way, border agencies can optimise the value added activities performed by their staff and focus on those people and things that warrant additional scrutiny.

Trend 1

A European police force used a Face-in-the-Crowd application and backend matching (both part of Accenture’s Unique Identity Services Platform) to rapidly trial face capture, matching, and mobile alerting functionality, to inform their teams of the appearance of persons of interest.

Trend 2

Liquid Workforce

Liquid Workforce
Building the workforce for today’s digital demands

As agencies begin to embrace digital technologies in their day-to-day operations, they must also consider their staff. With increasing demands for “always on” and “instant” services from their customers, border agencies must leverage technology and the workforce to achieve new levels of operational efficiency:

  • Agencies must be able to exploit technology to enable workforce transformation—from evolving skillsets, adapting training, and updating recruitment practices—to match the needs of a digital border agency of the future.
  • Border agency workforces need to use new digital tools to impact their businesses, affect risk and security, and, ultimately, influence revenue streams and their operations.

Agencies that create highly adaptable and change-ready environments for their staff will reap the benefits of a flexible and competitive workforce. The ability to dynamically alter thresholds, based on risk, or alter inspection resources, based on traveller or cargo profiles and volumes, are examples of change-ready environments.

Trend 1

Delta Airlines embraced gamification, developing mini games called “Ready, Set, Jet,” using social learning to help their call-center employees do more training. This approach led to Delta employees doing four years’ worth of training in a single year.

Trend 3

The Platform Economy

The Platform Economy
Technology-driven business model innovation from the outside in

The days of border agencies procuring “standalone” technology systems that address only a single facet of processing (such as passport verification, video surveillance, biometric verification, declaration processing, tariffs and quotas and so on) are rapidly being consigned to the past. This approach only serves to silo valuable data and creates significant operations and maintenance expenses. To deliver a seamless experience at the border, agencies must evolve their focus from creating better applications to building an integrated digital platform inclusive of people, processes, and technology. The platform will serve as a new blueprint for how agencies build, connect, and deliver applications and services that address specific mission challenges, without being locked into particular vendors and “black box” solutions.

Building an integrated digital platform to connect agencies and stakeholders forms the essence of “platform thinking.” In addition to providing seamless experiences at the border, agencies will have a single holistic view of their customers as they interact with the agency. Having this holistic view will not only enable better risk management, but also enable agencies to provide their customers with better experiences and services the next time they interact with the border.

Trend 3

Australia’s recent proof of concept for its border clearance system established one platform where workload forecasting, system maintenance, passenger watch-listing, and real-time threat alerts were all connected. The flow of data among these functions informed budget analysts about workforce demands for a year or more in the future, while also providing real-time alerts to the nearest officer about a potential threat within his or her proximity.

Trend 4

Predictable Disruption

Predictable Disruption
Looking to digital ecosystems for the next wave of change

Digital platforms can give border agencies access to previously silo’ed data sets, enable pervasive adoption of digital technologies, and open collaboration with a wider range of stakeholders. This can help border agencies create value in new ways while delivering efficient services. This predictable disruption is becoming common place in the private sector, across transport, logistics and even health. Agencies that are not only able to adapt to the future, but also that can effectively pre-empt and even become early adopters of these disruptors, will have a substantial competitive advantage. Indeed, border agencies that are forward thinking can proactively predict, take advantage of, and even enable enterprise disruptions.

Trend 4

Singapore Customs developed a TradeXchange platform for B2B transactions, creating an environment where business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) interactions and data can be used to create new value added services for both the agency and businesses.

Trend 5

Digital Trust

Digital Trust
Strengthening customer relationships through ethics and security

As agencies and their stakeholders begin to adapt digital technologies more widely, trust becomes an essential ingredient of the digital border agency of the future. Individuals need to trust the agency and the agency needs to be able to trust individuals. Trust dictates everything from identity, access, user roles, individual rights, and personalized user experiences. Advances in technology have not only changed how business is conducted in a digital age, but also have redefined what trust means for a digital border agency.

Digital trust at the border is currently established from a range of sources, such as electronic travel authorization (ETA), visa issuance (eVisa), registered traveler programs, Advanced Passenger Information (API), Passenger Name Records (PNR), electronic declaration (Imports, Exports, Transits, Manifests), previous encounters, and publicly available information. Trust needs to be embedded in the end-to-end management of passengers and trade, into the supply chain life cycle, evident in both physical and digital elements, and also part of electronic or manual interactions at the border.

Newer technologies such as blockchain are enabling the private sector to reach new levels of digital trust of individuals and their online transactions. It is only a matter of time before these technologies are adopted more widely in the public sector

Trend 5

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is rolling out a breakthrough Biometric Identity Management system (BIMS)—using Accenture’s Unique Identity Services Platform—that rapidly registers, de-duplicates and verifies the identities of refugees, ensuring that the right people receive assistance where and when they need it.

READ THE FULL ACCENTURE TECHNOLOGY VISION 2016 REPORT FOR BORDER SERVICES [PDF]

About the research

Ready to thrive in a digital world?

The research process began inputs from the Technology Vision External Advisory Board, a group comprising more than two dozen experienced individuals from the public and private sectors, academia, venture capital, and entrepreneurial companies. The team conducted interviews with technology luminaries and industry experts, as well as with nearly 100 Accenture business leaders. The team also tapped into the vast pool of knowledge and innovative ideas from professionals across Accenture, using our collaboration technologies and a crowdsourcing approach to run an online contest to uncover the most interesting emerging technology themes. More than 3,200 participants actively engaged in the contest, contributing valuable ideas and voting on others’ inputs. The board’s workshop, involving a series of “deep-dive” sessions with Accenture leadership and external subject-matter experts, validated and further refined the themes.

Authors


James Canham

James Canham

Global Managing Director
Accenture Border Services

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