Throughout the pandemic and particularly during the movement control order (MCO), the Malaysian public relied on the government’s digital services like never before. Indeed, the rakyat’s awareness of the public service’s day-to-day role has been heightened exponentially.

There has been a rapid rise in fully online citizen services, whether it is updating one’s eligibility for public benefits or renewing licences and registrations. The new reality of digitalisation is here, and opportunities abound for the public service. Still, there remains a large scope for progress – of 11,169 services in July last year across federal, state and local agencies, about 57 per cent are already end-to-end online government services.

Striving for such improvement is part of a national drive to re-establish the public service brand and prioritize technology innovation as Malaysia continues to change rapidly with a larger middle-income class and savvier populace. Roadmaps such as the 12th Malaysia Plan (MP) and Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDigital) serve as starting points to catalyse the country’s growth, paving the way for a better citizen experience.

Our research shows that most citizens (85 per cent) expect the same or higher standard of quality from government services as they do from commercial organisations. But it is one thing having a vision of transformation strategy – it has to be grounded in technological expertise.

Accenture’s findings in its Technology Vision 2021 and Technology Vision 2022 identifies relevant trends that can serve as guiding tracks in the tech road ahead:

Anywhere, Everywhere

Work from home, or WFH, became the most popular corporate buzzword in the era of the pandemic, as the virus sent people home to work. More than that, it ignited the possibility of making work possible not just from home, but anywhere and everywhere. And people are cosying up to the idea – 77 per cent of Malaysian workers want flexible remote work options to continue.

This culture has permeated into the public sphere as well. In fact, 91 per cent[i] of public service leaders worldwide believe their organizations are becoming truly virtual with online work processes. Malaysia’s Public Service Department has also indicated that working from home will be a long-term policy beyond the pandemic.

Public service agencies can also now realistically serve citizens from anywhere. In England, the National Health Service (NHS) has created a platform for more than a million of its staff to conduct virtual appointments, host virtual town halls and isolation room staff to communicate with colleagues outside.

The next step for organisations would be stepping into the metaverse continuum, a spectrum of digitally enhanced worlds, realities, and business models poised to revolutionize life and enterprise in the next decade. Soon, they will be at the intersection of many new worlds, from building new physical and virtual realities to providing services in environments created by others.

In Malaysia, the Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH), a statutory body which provides hajj services to Malaysian pilgrims, has introduced a Cloud CX Solution to enhance the TH Contact Centre’s services for some nine million customers and 123 branches nationwide. With rising call volumes during the pandemic, such a system allows tracking and analyzing about 10,000 voice interactions monthly and resolving 96 per cent of enquiries within the first interaction, significantly enhancing the citizen experience.

Years from now, it appears that successful government organizations will be the ones that have embraced working and providing services from everywhere, anywhere.

The Programmable World

The last two years have spurred exploration of new modes of digital experience and pushed people to live virtually to an extent they never expected. Coupled with  powerful technology in people’s hands (via mobile devices) that is useable without highly specialized skills, new experiences and services can be a reality with capabilities such as cloud solutions, natural language processing, low-code platforms and robotic process automation.

Government agencies worldwide are attuned to this – 87 per cent[ii] of public service leaders worldwide believe that such democratization of technology is critical in organizational innovation by arming non-tech employees with tools and skills to build tech solutions.

Across the world, tech solutions have been implemented to improve citizen experiences. In Ireland, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners has developed a phone call service with an artificial intelligence-powered, conversational virtual agent with over 200 unique dialogue steps addressing 18 possible use cases.

Such use of tech is gaining traction in Malaysia, with 80 per cent[iii] of executives – from both private and public sectors – convinced that technology democratization is critical for innovation. MyDigital also outlines the equipping of civil servants with digital skills for better service delivery, marrying the best of human ingenuity with technology.

From Me to We

The pandemic spotlighted the intense need for multiparty systems to enable seamless data sharing between individuals and organizations, to drive efficiency in applications such as contact tracing and frictionless payments. Suddenly, multiparty tech such as blockchain, distributed ledger and tokenization that was once deemed too complicated took center stage.

For public service organizations, partnerships with the private sector are no longer just beneficial but necessary to solve new problems as intersections emerge between areas like healthcare and travel.

An example of a provider with seamless end-to-end digital services across various government agencies is SingPass, Singapore’s national identity system for its 3.3 million users. It provides a secure yet open application programming interface (API) platform for private sector partners to collaborate with the government, resulting in an elevated citizen experience at one’s fingertips.

In Malaysia, the 12th MP is also proposing plans to improve public-private partnership framework for better efficiency and transparency, with about a quarter of executives reporting that their organizations are experimenting with multiparty systems this year.[iv]

These partnerships are the way forward for public service entities to face disruptions of today and the future.

New Machines, New Possibilities

Foundations are paramount. The kind of technology the public service chooses today will influence long-term possibilities. There is a need to build technical wealth, deviate from outdated systems and adopt an adaptive, reusable approach to tech.

In the United Kingdom, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had embarked on a pre-pandemic cloud transformation, including both microservices and an API library. When demand for services surged during the pandemic, DWP could scale up critical services, and the API library, which had reusable templates and codes, allowed developers to create new services for citizens in critical areas such as uploading medical records, benefits checks and free school meal vouchers.

Likewise, the Malaysian government is also laying down a long-term technology infrastructure. A cloud-hosting service, MyGovCloud@PDSA, allows more than a thousand systems across government agencies to share facilities with secured access, allowing cloud migration journeys to easily take flight.

Each layer of tech architecture together with greater computing power added to the public service only contributes to serving citizens better and in a more personalised, tailored manner.

As business strategies align with tech trends, the outcome for a better citizen experience for the rakyat will come ever closer. These are pressing times: Public enterprises should no longer wait for the new normal, but start building it now. It’s only what the people expect.

 END

Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors.

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[i] Accenture. Reimagine the world of work in public service

[ii] Technology Vision 2021 for Public Service

[iii] Technology Vision 2021 for Malaysia

[iv] Technology Vision 2021 for Malaysia

Norhafishah Malek

Managing Director – Digital Enterprise Architecture Lead, Strategy & Consulting, Southeast Asia

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