Cloud is becoming more and more important to the world we live in, and most public sector leaders understand the growing need for it. Our recent Cloud Continuum report found that 83% of public service agency leaders agree it’s essential for fuelling innovation and new business models. And in the United Kingdom, the One Government Cloud Strategy has set a clear vision on how to create more secure and efficient cloud operations.
Public sector agencies that deliver citizen services at scale reflect this need for cloud. They’re making major progress in their move to cloud. It started with using the cloud for greenfield apps and services where the technology could be deployed simply. Now, most public service leaders are taking on the task of migrating from legacy platforms to cloud-first alternatives.
Many leaders are seeing value in their move. During the pandemic, cloud helped citizen services agencies to quickly spin up contact centre capacity. It enabled them to meet the spikes in demand associated with major events. However, some leaders are unsure if they have the right strategy to deliver ongoing value. Our research found that just 37% of public sector leaders are confident their cloud strategy can continuously deliver and measure value to citizens and their workforce.
Now is the time for citizen service leaders to ask key questions about cloud. How can cloud enable real organisational transformation? What challenges will we face in delivering on the promise of cloud? And how can we overcome them?
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How public service leaders can make digital transformation personal
Personalisation in government services is different to personalisation in the private sector, where the goal is to increase sales or engagement. Here, the aim is to provide the right service to the right person at the right time, in the most effective way.
In the past, citizen services were delivered primarily through people. Welfare recipients would go to the job centre and meet with their advisor, for example. Doing so could often result in a highly personal relationship between an employee and the person using the service. As systems needed to scale, however, new approaches were needed.
The current wave of digitisation means focus is now on deploying standardised services. Such services give people easy access to information online, particularly through gov.uk. And the UK Government’s work in this area is rightly lauded.
We are now entering the next wave of digitisation. There is an opportunity to provide accessible digital citizen services at scale. We can also tailor them to specific individual needs. Cloud systems must personalise citizen services at a greater scale and with greater individualisation than before. It’s the key to adapting to the changing circumstances and behaviours of people.
Efforts are underway to provide personalised content to people searching for citizen services, but this could go further. For example, automated transcription capabilities on calls, combined with sentiment analysis, can identify and prioritise higher risk or sensitive cases. Equally, personalised coaching could dynamically serve up guidance for agents to provide to people, with the guidance depending on their interactions and the person’s needs.
There’s no doubt that personalisation can make services more accessible for citizens. For instance, you can communicate and provide services on channels and devices people have shown a preference for. Or you could send reminders to people outside their work or carer hours when they are likely to have more time to respond. These small changes can make a big difference to the people who use them.
Personalisation must become more proactive. For example, the analysis of industry trend data might identify a decline in one industry and a shortage of talent in another. Citizen services could then identify impacted people and provide tailored support to retrain in in-demand skills. This training could then be combined with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to provide work coaching and simulate job interviews.
In the future, the above and similar services will be provided in the Metaverse for users that prefer to interact and learn digitally.
The biggest questions public service leaders should ask about cloud
Delivering these kinds of services is only made possible with cloud. Analysing massive data sets. Running virtual visits for service users. Orchestrating AI-powered personalisation. All of these operations require major increases in computing power. In fact, 72% of public service leaders told us that they expect computing capacity to more than double during the next two to three years.
The compute power needed for hyper-personalisation must be more scalable than ever before. The peaks and troughs already experienced in the process of service digitisation are likely to become more pronounced. It will happen when citizen services providers meet the needs of people at an individual level. Existing investments in cloud have helped manage this existing demand, so it’s likely these investments will need to expand.
However, some key questions remain unanswered.
First and foremost is the question of how citizen data is shared. It’s a vital consideration when providing access to the information needed for personalisation. The UK Government has taken a major step to address this with its Data Strategy. We discussed the potential impact of the strategy in a blog at the time and we have witnessed this expand further as departments collaborated during the pandemic.
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Personalisation at scale requires even greater interoperability than ever before. We are already seeing departments like the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) taking an active stance in promoting it. However, sharing data both within and between organisations is often difficult. Overcoming this hurdle is key to maximising the value of cloud for citizen services.
Cloud helps with this shift. It provides the required compute power. And it enables innovative capabilities that can identify, store, match and share data at scale.
It’s important to also consider the financial side of cloud. Operating on cloud is different to other technologies. Before, we could buy computing capacity upfront and make the most of a finite resource. However, cloud resourcing is limitless and the demand created by hyper-personalisation requires greater accountability. If financed like traditional resource, this could either create spiralling costs or constrain the opportunity that cloud offers from agility and innovation.
The questions that leaders need to ask are not necessarily about the technology itself, but how it is managed and what outcome it needs to power. How can we standardise data and share it easily between cloud-enabled systems? What new privacy standards do we need to create citizen trust? How can we deepen collaboration between technology and finance teams in managing cloud resources? What organisational goals are we trying to achieve? How can cloud help?
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There are models, like FinOps, which can help answer some of these questions. However, we must recognise that value from cloud comes specifically from cloud-enabled services that offer more to the people who use them. Leaders should take this opportunity to rethink how they approach citizen service delivery.
Now is the time to embrace personalisation at a scale that has never been possible before. Cloud migration is already having a major impact for public sector organisations of all kinds, but there is still work to do to deliver long-term value. See how we are helping clients embrace this opportunity or connect with Mark or Harry to discuss it further.
This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. This document refers to marks owned by third parties. All such third-party marks are the property of their respective owners. No sponsorship, endorsement, or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended, expressed or implied