The Accenture Technology Vision 2016

One constant remains through human services change, even when disruption is everywhere. People are at the heart of the mission. And as agencies turn to digital technologies to streamline customer experiences, and improve outcomes—digitalization can make service delivery more human than ever.

The Accenture Technology Vision 2016 reveals that the digital revolution demands putting people first to truly transform organizations. Because digital means people too. The report reveals five emerging trends that no organization can ignore. How will they shape the future of human services?


Do things differently, do different things


Support lifelong learning, not jobs for life


Break down walls, break out new ways to work


Disrupt yourself, before being disrupted


Unlock data, lock in security and trust

Trend 1

Intelligent Automation
Do things differently, do different things

Human services caseworkers can work side by side with new co-workers—machines and artificial intelligence. Intelligent automation brings scale, speed, simplicity and data insight to labor-intensive and transactional agency processes, such as basic eligibility determination. This transforms caseworker productivity and skills requirements—freeing up humans for the tasks that demand the human touch.

The State of Ohio Integrated Eligibility System uses no-touch processing for intake and case creation, relying on state and federally defined program rules to determine eligibility. Citizens can apply online and receive near real-time eligibility determination without worker intervention. Today, only 50 percent of all current applications are paper—an effective 15 percent workload reduction in manual application processing for staff.


Pension systems think no-touch processing can help improve internal efficiency.

What if intelligent processing of claims and benefit eligibility changes was automated based on “trust” so people never have to prove their situation unless automation doubted the accuracy of the reported data?

Trend 2

Liquid Workforce
Support lifelong learning, not jobs for life

The labor market is ever evolving thanks largely to digital technologies like intelligent automation. People need constant training and reskilling as career paths have more twists and turns than ever before. All human services agencies must adjust for this new normal workforce reality. But employment agencies must be at the center, helping people and employers adapt and advance.

Singapore’s Work Development Agency is intervening at different points in citizens’ lives. To meet the future demand of its economy and prevent people’s skills from becoming obsolete, it helps citizens to learn different skills no matter where they are in their careers. The agency has launched a national credentialing system that brings together education, training and career progression advice.

What if labor agencies aligned training investments with a data-driven view of long-term strategic skills development needs in a region, creating the jobs and economies of the future?

66% of public employment service officials surveyed across 11 countries believe they have only limited insight into future skill needs of companies.

Trend 3

Platform Economy
Break down walls, break out new ways to work

Isolated technology systems make integrated human services delivery nearly impossible. Not anymore. With the right policies, governance and leadership, human services agencies can connect in technology-enabled, platform-driven ecosystems. This is one-door, seamless service in practice, not theory. Such breakthrough agency interconnectedness support service delivery for how people live.

Altinn is Norway’s platform for digital interaction between citizens, businesses and government. Businesses can access more than 400 different public services and forms from more than 30 public agencies. Citizens have 24/7 access to government services—from applying for financial support to patenting an invention. The strategy going forward will be to move beyond forms and messages to create truly innovative cross-agency services, made available through a variety of channels.

More than 70 percent of U.S. citizens surveyed have the same or higher expectations for government digital services as they do for commercial digital services like those from retailors or banks.

Less than 1 in 3 “cuts the government slack” with respect to quality expectations.

What if pensions followed people’s lives—flowing seamlessly as they move from job to job, even country to country, linking to cross-border initiatives and crossing boundaries between the public and private sectors?

Trend 4

Predictable Disruption
Disrupt yourself, before being disrupted

As more human services agencies invest in digital platforms and digital ecosystems grow, agencies can track and predict future changes and their impact on the people they serve. This full visibility into tomorrow’s disruptive forces is unprecedented. It is an opportunity for agencies to defy convention and reinvent roles, service delivery and collaboration—every facet of agency operations.

The Department for Work and Pensions in the United Kingdom has launched a Universal Credit model to deliver working age benefit payments that dynamically adjust to salary every month. This supports modern flexible work arrangements and provides a consistency and security of income for low-wage workers. If tax and benefit data is understood on the same platform, then the old concepts of assessment of wealth versus assessment of need start to break down. Beneficiaries just have a running “account” with government.

1/3 of PS respondents (32%) rank public service as one of the top 3 industries that will face the most digital disruption in close future

What if human services agencies made benefits payments in digital currencies like Bitcoin, creating virtual “jam jar accounts” where funds are tagged for specific uses—food and transportation over alcohol or gambling?

Trend 5

Digital Trust
Unlock data, lock in security and trust

A digital human services agency can deliver services in new ways, drawing data insights about people’s behaviors. But more digital means more risk of security breaches, and more opportunities to lose people’s trust. That’s why security-by-design and ethics are foundational. Human services agencies excel at protecting people, now they must excel at protecting their personally identifiable information too.

Citizens in Germany have control over their own data and how the government uses it. They can opt in or out of government agencies sharing their data internally. The more data that people share, the better services are enabled for them. But fundamentally, the citizen is in charge.

What if when and how citizens access services were part of their “key”—device and behavioral metadata used to determine if the person accessing the data is verified or not?


Ready to thrive in the digital world?

Technology is the driver. But people are the true force of change. And no one knows people like the human services community. Get started with these fundamentals today:

Put customers in charge of their own data—secure access to manage and update data and control its use.

Build data collaboration rules built into every interface—address data provenance, relevance and sharing.

Disrupt yourself—inventory services to determine what’s no longer needed and what needs to be developed.