In brief

In brief

  • People now seek more from public service agencies. They want "living" services that fit seamlessly into their lives.
  • Public service leaders are feeling the pressure of delivering innovative new experiences without breaking the bank.
  • Accenture has identified three common pillars that can help public service agencies evolve their core operations and processes.

Citizens now want more than just value for money; they’re seeking responsive, living services that fit seamlessly into their lives. It’s a level of change that’s creating anxiety among public sector leaders who are now faced with a mammoth task: balancing the pivot of investment from old to new without breaking the bank.

As leaders face up to the challenge, many are calling for them to commit to "big bang" transformational processes, ripping out established legacy systems for new technologies. But this mantra of "out with the old" may not always work for public service agencies. In many cases, critical services running on legacy technologies can’t be switched off and replaced, and the astronomical costs of implementing new systems also invite massive risk.

Not revolution, but evolution …

But there is a way. To deliver the living services of the future, public sector leaders must look to the core of their organization. Not by harboring a revolution of new technology but an evolution of core operations, processes and systems. By embedding innovation and new ways of working, they can seize the opportunities that change provides and stride into an uncertain future with confidence, avoiding the disruption that comes with big bang transformation.

… founded on three pillars

The road ahead is different for every organization, but we’ve identified three common pillars that can help public service agencies evolve their core in a way that’s pragmatic, progressive and sustainable.

Pillar one

Boundaryless: building a collaboration ecosystem

The complexity and rate of change public service agencies face are too significant to respond effectively from what they already have in-house. But these same agencies are ideally placed to tap into a well of ecosystem partners that have access to an abundance of resources and capabilities. The result? An agency’s boundaries start to blur, with operations, services and technologies extending into partner organizations.

Many agencies worry that people will object to them involving the private sector in public services, but Accenture research among more than 6,000 citizens in six countries suggests such fears are overdone:

8 out of 10 citizens want their government to work with the private sector to innovate around services.

Pillar two

Adaptable: reshaping for flexibility to constant change

Accenture’s research into government innovation confirms that citizens support public agencies’ efforts to apply innovation to become more adaptable to their needs.

3 out of 4 users of public services want agencies to innovate more, and 53% think they should reinvest savings from innovation in more innovation.

Agencies that become more adaptable are capable of handling and responding effectively to shifts in policy, citizens’ expectations, technology and the ways people live and work. Achieving adaptability is about evolving and enhancing the existing core by building in flexibility, an ability to learn continually and resilience to change.

Adaptable organizations adopt a “platform approach”: a robust but flexible environment that enables an agency to capitalize in a faster and more agile way on new opportunities as they emerge, by plugging technology components in and out. The result? A built-in ability to harness future technologies quickly and continuously.

Pillar three

Radically human: ensuring technology serves people—not vice versa

Bringing a future of living services to life requires agencies to embrace a seamless interface between humans, machines and systems. They’ll need to ensure every innovation in technology made is designed and used with people at the center. These innovations will only succeed if they deliver the best outcomes for people, and this can only be achieved when humans and machines collaborate. Integrating AI technologies into everyday activities is an essential aspect for evolving core operations in a public agency.


of citizens say they’ve used AI-enabled public services in the past six months.


of citizens want the government to use AI to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

It starts at the core

The line between where human workforces end and IT begins continues to blur. It brings major implications for public agencies’ investment, both current and capital. Evolutionary steps like becoming boundaryless, adaptable and radically human will help agencies future-proof themselves against uncertainty, setting them off on the right path to progress.

It's not a quick fix; progress like an organization’s evolution will be measured and incremental but by evolving your core, you can both deliver against the demands of today’s citizens and build the agility to serve the needs of tomorrows, all at the speed of life.

James Canham

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Global Border Services

Mark Jennings

Managing Director – Health & Public Service, UK and Ireland


Funding the government journey to the cloud
Future systems

Subscription Center
Visit our Subscription and Preference Center Visit our Subscription and Preference Center