A partnership of equals
Taking advantage of digitization to provide practical citizen services is one of the public and health care sector’s greatest challenges, and Accenture is accompanying them on the journey. Developing a digital strategy, which also requires addressing an organization’s change management, security and technology requirements, is key to successfully overcoming that challenge.
Bernd Karl, a specialist in this field, is responsible for digital transformation for our public sector clients in Germany. From a young age he was interested in medicine and technology. He saw the opportunity early on to combine technology with the customer experience, creating a web design agency while still at high school. This led him to completing degrees in medical informatics and telemedicine at Heidelberg University and the University of Minnesota.
Bernd has been on a path to put the citizen customer at the center of the digital experience ever since, joining Accenture’s Health & Public Service practice in 2003 immediately after his studies. Over time, his focus and work have moved more towards the administration of public services and helping the public sector with its biggest challenge: moving away from well-known linear processes to more agile ones using creative techniques and design thinking which could take their citizen services to a new level and more in line with the private sector.
“I still remember one of our first digital strategy projects within a large public authority in Berlin. Around the table sat grey-haired men in suits and ties, including their CIO, whom we had invited to meet at a relaxed venue. This was in 2013 when Accenture had just acquired Fjord, a large design and innovation consultancy. There we were with two young and bright creative women from Fjord so very different from this organization’s management team. It was this setting and moment which made an immediate and strong impression on the client. It was clear to me that the digital experience was on its way to becoming mainstream in the public sector too.”
The source of innovation
“What motivates me most about my job every day is to really make a difference to everyone involved, harnessing digital and analogue technologies,” says Bernd. As a consultant and managing director at Accenture, Bernd has gained the respect of top decision-makers in large government organizations. He credits the high level of cooperation with these clients to Accenture’s reputation for having an approach which brings people on board as opposed to dictating changes from the top down.
Bernd believes that the secrets to success for these projects are working together on an equal footing, soliciting input from across the organization and backing up words with actions. “If we approach things this way, a personal relationship with the client team develops very quickly and trust is established. This foundation of trust is critical when working with public entities; even the slightest change in procedures could mean that what is being put into place might not be accepted at all levels.”
His ability to get the ear of top decision-makers is a credit to his teams’ wide range of expertise and ability to speak with a unified voice. The result is a boost of relevant ideas and interdisciplinary innovation within the client and team.
For Bernd, the combination of having insights from other specialist areas and interacting with users are the most important advantages of this concept of interdisciplinary competence. It forces teams to take in different perspectives, which is very much in line with how Bernd approaches life and his curiosity to better understand how people think and live.
This curiosity is deep rooted. Before their two children came along, Bernd and his wife spent a year travelling around the world. Their voyage took them to 27 countries and included driving an old Mercedes bus to Lebanon, hiking through Asia and backpacking around South America. This life-changing and analogue experience is something that Bernd carries with him as he works to transform public services through digital transformation, helping to make life better for people in Germany.