In brief

In brief

  • The COVID-19 crisis shook loose many long-held assumptions about how and where government agencies can deliver services.
  • The Accenture Technology Vision 2021 for public service study affirms that public service leaders recognise opportunities to build on this momentum.
  • Through this year’s research, Accenture has identified five trends shaping the new era of public service.
  • Public service organisations around the globe are exploring ways to translate these opportunities into outcomes.

Public service technology opportunities accelerated

The COVID-19 crisis compounded longstanding challenges but also unleashed opportunities to overhaul how public services are delivered. It radically accelerated changes that governments knew were coming but did not expect to see so soon.

For starters, the crisis shook loose long-held assumptions about where government work must be completed. In the Accenture Technology Vision 2021 for public service survey, 42% of public service employees report that their organisation’s metrics indicate productivity has stayed the same or improved despite remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and an additional 32% don’t have metrics but believe productivity stayed the same or improved.

The pandemic also accelerated customer service innovation as agencies faced skyrocketing demand. Some responded by quickly implementing new contact centre capabilities to support remote visitations and citizen-facing virtual assistants to manage demand.

And the crisis has provided undeniable evidence of why cloud is not just a nice-to-have. Readily available platforms and data are critical to supporting joined-up public service decision making and service delivery in a world of relentless change.

While immediate changes are clear, there is less clarity than ever into what the long-term future holds. What we do know: The journey of reinvention has only just begun.

Excel at change and innovation in public services

Public service organisations now face a set of circumstances they have never seen before.

On one hand, there is widespread and accelerated digital transformation coupled with the digital building blocks to create almost anything. On the other are blank slates waiting for the next vision of the future to be defined. Combined, it could be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to actively shape the future almost from the ground up.

This challenge demands a new kind of leadership. Leading in the uncertain future will require public service organisations to become Experts at Change.


of public service respondents agree or strongly agree their organisation’s employees just faced the largest and fastest human behavioural change in history due to COVID-19.

People and the world need leaders who will look beyond today’s triage effort and start building what comes next. While it might be tempting for governments to retreat to what they know, 2020 made clear that they need a different path forward.

Public service organisations have proven that they can innovate quickly. Why revert to old ways of thinking and working? By maintaining a clear-eyed perspective and sharp focus on expedited digital transformations – reimagining everything from their people to data, technology, architectures and ecosystems – they will be better positioned to solve some of the world’s thorniest problems while delivering better outcomes to the people, businesses and communities they serve.

In December of 2020, our research team surveyed 1,091 public service respondents for Accenture Technology Vision 2021 for public service. The results revealed a much-changed landscape – and a need for a different type of leader. We explore each of the 2021 trends with a public service lens, examining how they impact this industry and what we must get right.

About the Authors

Valerie Armbrust

Managing Director – Public Service, Technology and Cloud Lead

Mark Jennings

Managing Director – Health & Public Service, UK and Ireland

Christian Bertmann

Managing Director – Technology, Health & Public Service, ASG

Ahmed Hassan

Managing Director – Defence and National Security Lead, Australia and New Zealand

Timo Levo

Managing Director – Public Service, Defence, SAP, Europe


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