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Getting ahead of back-office disruption

Public administrators: Will change happen to you—or will you happen to change?

In the not-so-distant past, change occurred in drips, making it possible to be genuinely surprised by its effects. Today change is more like a massive wave. You can see it coming, and you have a choice: Will you stand still and be overwhelmed by it? Or will you grab a board and ride the wave, reaching new heights as a result?

The Accenture Technology Vision 2016 dubbed this phenomenon “Predictable Disruption.” It’s being driven by fast-emerging digital ecosystems—from precision agriculture and the industrial Internet to smart cities. These ecosystems are creating platforms for the next big wave of enterprise disruption (and the wave after that, and the wave after that…).

Governing disruption

Fast-moving digital ecosystems aren’t just fueling challenges and opportunities for commercial businesses. Predictable Disruption is also affecting government. In fact, an Accenture survey of public services executives in 10 countries found that:

  • Eighty percent anticipate the pace of technological change will increase rapidly or at an unprecedented rate over the next three years.

  • Seventy-two percent agreed that automation driven by artificial intelligence will be seamlessly embedded into every aspect of their business over the next five years.

  • Eighty-nine percent consider it very or somewhat important to adopt platform-based business models and to engage in ecosystems of digital partners.

  • Seventy-eight percent agree that organizations are being increasingly pressed to reinvent themselves and evolve their business before they are disrupted from the outside.

Start in the back

To make the most of digital disruption, focus on back-office public administration functions that serve as the backbone of any government. In many cases, these functions remain bogged down in processing transactions and addressing complex compliance rules. These mandatory activities often consume limited resources, hindering government’s ability to focus on developing and supporting innovative models and teams to better serve citizens. What’s more, citizens and elected officials now compare government’s back office with private sector organizations that are using analytics, automation and ERP as a service. Government back offices usually suffer in those comparisons—and the gap is only growing wider.

In this sea of constant change, the core mission of government’s back office is still the same: Finding, nurturing and retaining top talent. Creating and improving innovative funding mechanisms while enhancing compliance and transparency. And seeking out, developing and managing partnerships and other relationships to continuously improve service delivery. Powerful tools and proven strategies can empower back offices to meet that mission rather than being buried in transaction processing and compliance work.

In fact, transformational strategies can turn government back offices into centers of innovation—supporting constant improvement in citizen services. To get there, back-office leaders need to develop, share and build support for clear strategic visions, create focused but flexible plans to implement the visions, and execute those plans in an agile, iterative fashion. In other words: “grab a board” and ride the wave of Predictable Disruption.

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