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April 04, 2017
The new formula for revenue agencies: People + Technology = agility
By: David Regan

To operate effectively in a context of continuously accelerating change, revenue agencies must do more with less to meet fast-changing citizen expectations. For that they need to become more flexible, adaptive and responsive in how they think and operate. Agility’s at the heart of that mission. The ultimate objective? Engaging more effectively with taxpayers—on their terms.

Accenture’s 2017 Technology Vision offers some valuable insights into how revenue agencies can harness people and technology to pursue their quest for agility:

AI is the New UI. Advances in AI, particularly natural language processing, are creating the ability to support rich voice conversations between people and technology. Examples, such as Alexa, Cortana and Siri, point the way forward and revenue agencies will increasingly need to support similar experiences. But AI’s implications also extend to more formal, sophisticated and complex processes; for instance, audits and intuitive real-time interaction using machine-driven natural language (voice and text-based) could be used to support these. That could transform traditional approaches to communication and information gathering.

Ecosystem Power Plays. Delivering a more tailored and relevant experience to the taxpayer will require participation in formal—employers, tax agents, etc.—and less formal ecosystems, such as social media. Overall, agencies need to identify which ecosystems they’ll need to be a part of in order to build their future operating model and capabilities. Agencies should make sure their needs are catered for in broad ecosystems embracing the commercial sector. Government-centered ecosystems—sharing information to drive value for all of government—will help overcome traditional organization boundaries.

Workforce Marketplace. Revenue agencies need to manage their workforce differently to achieve new levels of agility. Of course, adapting to new ways of managing and sourcing talent is a big challenge for agencies accustomed to managing hierarchies and operating performance management very differently. Increased demand for flexible and remote working has implications for estate management and underlying infrastructure, with the ability to scale to support demand peaks particularly important. Security accreditation, increased security threats, retention and sharing of knowledge are also critical.

Design for Humans. Empowering the revenue workforce with intelligence and data requires a design-led approach to make sure that AI tools and other new technologies support people and enrich their work. This means people and machines working together, with revenue users being able to "train" systems to work better for them.

The Uncharted. The speed at which technology is evolving challenges agencies to develop taxation and technology standards appropriate for emerging industries. Revenue agencies will not want to stand in the way of progress, but we are already seeing new industries (e.g., on-demand transportation) whose existence was not foreseen when relevant legislation/processes were defined. Agencies will have a key role to play in shaping the new governance arrangements, regulations and standards that the rapid pace of technology innovation demands. In addition, wholly-new services are emerging that will offer new capabilities to agencies (e.g., cloud-based collaborative software to conduct working exchanges with taxpayers).

Overall, the five trends in the Accenture Technology Vision 2017 have at their heart a new and evolving relationship between people and technology. Revenue agencies should make sure they embrace this new relationship as they seek to become more agile. Doing so will help them to support taxpayers with digitally-enabled and more personalized experiences and simultaneously empower their own people to work in new ways.

The full Technology Vision 2017 report offers a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the implications and opportunities arising from rapid and pervasive technology developments. I’d be very interested to hear your views about those you think will have the greatest impact on revenue agencies.

For more related thinking and content, click here.

See this post on LinkedIn: The new formula for revenue agencies: People + Technology = agility.

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