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Redefining private and public sector relationships

Intelligent technologies help public service agencies forging new private sector alliances.
Brian Moran

Brian Moran

Global Managing Director, Citizen Services Public Service Industry

Accustomed to the convenience of digital transactions and personalised services, we constantly welcome new technologies into our hands, our homes, and our workplaces. We expect that same seamlessness to be replicated across our day-to-day experiences, and public services know they can’t afford to be outpaced. Unless they provide the convenience and innovation we have come to expect, public service organisations will see customer satisfaction plummeting.

Accenture surveyed nearly 800 public service technology leaders, in nine countries, to find out how they are currently using intelligent technologies such as advanced analytics, biometrics, machine learning, and the Internet of Things. We also sought to understand their ambitions for using these technologies in the future.

The research reveals public service agencies aspire to be as open-minded and adaptable as the citizens they serve—willing to rethink their operating model, workforce skills mix and the role of intelligent technologies. And they acknowledge that in order to achieve this agility in spite of cultural inertia and budgetary straitjackets, they will have to get creative—and collaborative.

Seeking out new partners
The research finds that just as technology breaks down traditional barriers between businesses and citizens and between citizens themselves, it is also encouraging a redefinition of the borders between public services and the private sector.

  • 76 percent of respondents currently look to the private sector for successful implementations of intelligent technologies.
  • 65 percent are considering using “as-a-service” models instead of creating their own.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) are willing to embrace public-private partnerships and new commercial models in developing intelligent technology projects in the future.

By building on existing private sector solutions, and co-designing new ones, the public sector is starting to create deeper partnerships.

And, with collaboration perceived as one solution to stretched budgets and the seemingly unassailable pace of technological change, the partnership model is going beyond the private sector: 60 percent of respondents are collaborating with customers/citizens and the voluntary sector in designing and developing intelligent technology projects. Some are even creating ecosystems with a start-up mentality, harnessing innovation from citizens and public sector partners, in order to break new ground.

Get agile, customer-centric—and ready to start again and again
The customer focus and agility that are essential to success in the private sector are what will make successes of the public service agencies of the future.

And the private sector is already playing a pivotal role in developing intelligent technology projects in the public sector. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of our respondents say that the private sector has already helped them meet their citizens’ demands, and more than half (51 percent) of respondents look predominantly to the private sector for new talent.

Today’s environment of disruption has forced the private sector to accept that it must take risks with technology and prepare to fail. If public service agencies are going to move intelligent technologies into the mainstream, they must be willing to experiment—and be equally prepared to make mistakes.

The research shows a clear appetite among public service agencies to embrace intelligent technologies and re-invent the way services are delivered to citizens.

But this unprecedented opportunity to engage with citizens in new ways requires a radical shift in approach: agencies understand that new alliances with the private sector and other partners will be critical to their success.

If they establish this new collaborative ecosystem, and adopt an experimental, agile mentality, public service agencies will deliver a new level of innovation—and satisfaction—to the people they serve.