Lead in the New

Technology disruption is at the heart of the business changes impacting our world. Governments at every level are being challenged to keep pace and use disruption by attracting business and talent to grow their economic and social prosperity. In this unique era of change, the role of technology leaders (chief information officers, chief innovation officers, chief digital officers or chief ecosystem officers) is changing—it will support a more agile business, enable the ecosystem, improve customer service and drive operational efficiency.

Innovate or fade

Innovation is the most significant driver of economic growth at local, city, state and national levels and is highly visible on the global playing field. We are witnessing a struggle for working taxpayers given aging populations, increased citizen expectations, and significant cost and sustainability pressures. The most successful organizations, cities, states and countries will be those that embrace innovation and address the effects geo-socio-political dynamics have on society, their organizations and their business ecosystem. We are clearly at risk of innovation overtaking our ability to govern, yet slowing down innovation will challenge sustainability and restrict growth. Technology leaders within the organization have the mandate to demonstrate how new technologies can disrupt existing operating models and thinking.

In the Digital Government Review of Norway, published by OECD, both Norway and the other Nordic countries, score on the top of Digital Economy and Society Index (Desi) ranking. This shows that there is significant room for opportunities to use technology to power innovation that allows government to successfully protect our safety and welfare, while providing an environment to grow and sustain our cities and nations. But how? Creating an innovation agenda means rethinking the structure and approach to innovation—it is not the accountability of one person or group, but a process of discovering insight and co-creating future ideas by solving fundamental challenges in creative ways. The best ideas will emerge from a group of passionate, diverse people from all areas who have an entrepreneurial mindset about public service. Technology leaders can convene creative thinkers and digital champions to push the innovation agenda forward.

Government as a platform

Technology-enabled business models are disrupting business as we know it, and they have the similar potential to reshape government services. In fact, 68 percent of public service executives believe digital ecosystems are already having a noticeable impact on, or will dramatically transform, the industry. By adopting an ecosystem partnership approach, governments can cost effectively bring in the innovation through leveraging cutting-edge talent and technologies, while retaining sovereignty. Technology leaders play a fundamental role in supporting this evolution by engaging the ecosystem. Leading change calls for a shift in philosophy—rather than just thinking about the organization, those responsible for technology must think about the entire ecosystem of organizations participating in the value chain.

As technology leaders rethink service delivery in the new ecosystem, they must look at how technology can allow greater connectivity and integration. All areas of the IT organization should be viewed through the ecosystem lens: How will the enterprise architecture enable collaboration? How can the current services expand beyond the boundaries of the government to include business and new digital service providers to enhance the service level and coverage? Such ecosystem thinking in government requires a multi-faceted platform to support it. Government platforms (such as education or welfare) involve multiple stakeholders and a more complex model of engagement. Technology leaders can navigate these challenges by bringing to bear design thinking, agile delivery and analytic insight to help reshape government service.


of public service executives believe digital ecosystems are already having a noticeable impact on, or will dramatically transform, the industry.

Agility with purpose

Perhaps the most complex challenge facing technology leaders today is managing and isolating core technology while enabling a digital future powered by innovation. Many core systems lack the business agility to respond to the changing policy demands from government. Legacy technology deteriorates over time, leading to “technical debt” that hinders organizations from being able to react to change. Technology leaders must tackle technical debt before systems deteriorate even more and starve the business of new IT capabilities. It is cost prohibitive and high risk to replace legacy systems overnight; therefore modernization strategies should progressively make the core more agile, and reduce operating and maintenance costs. Digital decoupling allows organizations to decouple new digital business strategy execution from the timeframes necessary for renewal of the core. Organizations can escape the cycle of creating technical debt by running core modernization in parallel with new digital technologies.

New digitally enabled experiences augmented by artificial intelligence provide intuitive, helpful and personalized services to citizens. Data captured through digital systems can be analyzed to create insight and drive improved outcomes for society and the economy. Inside the organization, new digital approaches can optimize workforce effectiveness using collaboration, artificial intelligence and digital learning technologies. The new IT organization is infused with innovation, enabled by automation, agile in delivery and resilient in operations. Transforming to the new IT organization will require IT leaders to drive and manage organizational change.

Navigating the New

We are in a period of unprecedented disruption. We have multiple technology innovations enabling new business models that challenge the very fabric of our society and governance. New platform business models disrupt our tax, education and social benefit systems. Citizen demands are higher than ever, as they expect the same levels of convenience and service from government as they receive from their banks and other service providers. These are challenging times, but they are exciting times in which multi-faceted technology leaders can guide the organization to a future of economic strength and prosperity.

Putting users first in service design

Accenture helped the Finnish Immigration Service to develop EnterFinland, a new electronic case management system designed to put the user first. The eService aims to enable a user to finish the application in one sitting, without being overwhelmed by information. Using a simple step-by-step structure, the service suggests the next logical step. There are also safeguards to prevent users from accidentally sending an incomplete application. EnterFinland helps the Finnish Immigration Service to provide a better, more efficient user-oriented service to immigrants and their families. And since the applications are mainly processed by the immigrants themselves, there are significantly shortened time lines and less processing work for the officials.

Digital transformation enables agility and cost savings

The French Human Services Agency “Caisse Nationale des Allocations Familiales” (CNAF) supports families through a number of services and benefits. The agency comprises 103 different subsidiaries that manage the budgets provided by the government. CNAF committed to significantly reduce its operating costs (-10 to -15 M€/year). Working with Accenture, the agency pursued a digital transformation of its legacy applications. The team successfully migrated applications to a new digital platform sized to manage 130M transactions/day (15M/hour at peak) and 140,000 jobs/day. Now, all subsidiaries are on the platform and the agency is achieving recurrent savings on hardware and software maintenance.

Roger Østvold

Managing Director – Norway Health & Public Service

Mark Jennings

Managing Director – Health & Public Service, UK and Ireland


Government as a Platform
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