Technology disruption is at the heart of the business changes impacting our world. Governments at every level are being challenged to keep pace and use disruption to compete locally and internationally by attracting business and talent to grow their economic and social prosperity. Leaders are investing in technology to keep up. About half of public service executives (47-53 percent) are planning to or have already adopted or piloted emerging technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotics.1 In this unprecedented era of change, the role of these leaders (chief information officers, chief innovation officers, chief digital officers or chief ecosystem officers) is also changing—it will support a more agile business, enable the ecosystem, improve customer service and drive operational efficiency.
Innovation is the most significant driver of competitiveness at local, city, state and national levels and is highly visible on the global playing field. Technology leaders today must demonstrate how new technologies can disrupt existing operating models and thinking. Citizens expect it. In fact, 76 percent of citizens expect innovation from government technology leaders in delivering citizen services.2 Creating an innovation agenda means rethinking the structure and approach to innovation—it is not the accountability of one person or group, but a process of discovering insight and co-creating future ideas by solving fundamental challenges in creative ways. The best ideas will emerge from a group of passionate, diverse people from all areas who have an entrepreneurial mindset about public service. Technology leaders can convene creative thinkers and digital champions to push the innovation agenda forward.
Technology disruption can be daunting. Change is happening so fast, and on such a large scale, it may seem impossible to keep up. However, these rapid changes bring about new opportunities, such as helping people to lead healthier, prosperous, more productive lives. There are also risks. New technologies introduce new security threats, governance implications and organizational complexity.
CIOs have the important job of navigating these waves of technology disruption to determine what will improve our economy and society. Accenture research shows that leading governments are experimenting with, exploiting and adopting new technologies. For instance, more than half (51 percent) report positive gains from the use of intelligent technologies in developing new services and applications. Obstacles remain, but there are clear advantages from embracing technology disruption to improve the delivery of public services and meet the rising expectations of citizens.
The platform for progress
Technology-enabled business models are disrupting business as we know it, and they have the similar potential to reshape government services. Governments are increasingly working with others. In fact, 92 percent of public service executives say the number of partners their organization works with has increased—36 percent report the number has doubled or more than doubled.3 By adopting an ecosystem partnership approach, governments can cost effectively bring in the innovation through leveraging cutting-edge talent and technologies, while retaining sovereignty. Ecosystem thinking in government requires a multi-faceted platform to support it. Government platforms (such as education or welfare) involve multiple stakeholders and a more complex model of engagement. Technology leaders can navigate these challenges by bringing to bear design thinking, agile delivery and analytic insight to help reshape government service.
Agile with purpose
Perhaps the most complex challenge facing technology leaders today is managing and isolating core technology while enabling a digital future powered by innovation. Many core systems lack the business agility to respond to the changing policy demands from government. Legacy technology deteriorates over time, leading to “technical debt” that hinders organizations from being able to react to change.
Technology leaders must tackle technical debt before systems deteriorate even more and starve the business of new IT capabilities. It is cost-prohibitive and high risk to replace legacy systems overnight; therefore, modernization strategies should progressively make the core more agile, and reduce operating and maintenance costs. Organizations also should pursue new digitally enabled experiences that provide intuitive, helpful and personalized services to citizens. Data captured through digital systems can be analyzed to create insight and drive improved outcomes for society and the economy. Inside the organization, new digital approaches can optimize workforce effectiveness using collaboration, artificial intelligence and digital learning technologies.
Service design benefits citizens
Accenture helped the Finnish Immigration Service to develop EnterFinland, a new electronic case management system designed to put the user first. The eService aims to enable a user to finish the application in one sitting, without being overwhelmed by information. Using a simple step-by-step structure, the service suggests the next logical step. There are also safeguards to prevent users from accidentally sending an incomplete application.