In sharp contrast to the private sector, the public sector is related to the masses, rather than classes of people. There are a number of factors, which are going to collectively as well as individually decide the way governments around the world are going to perform in the time to come. Without a doubt, digital technologies are the single most important factor that will drastically impact the report cards of public sector players. To realise the pure power of digital technologies, public sector agencies at all the government levels and in all the parts of the globe, not just in the US or UK, are bracing for digital transformation.
As more and more public-sector organisations are being pushed hard by the respective governments to make public services online for the convenience of the general public, they are increasingly abandoning analog operating models. This move towards digital is the key to meeting the promises and deadlines set by them for a number of projects. This digital transformation strategy, primarily involves all citizen-facing services, departmental overhaul and very often, a complete makeover of internal government processes. Here are 6 key points that governments need to keep in sight to substantially accelerate digital transformation in the public sector.
1. Switching to a low-code Platform
The process of taking government services online is a huge task. Traditional coding methods need companies to go back to the original developers, which is not possible in most cases making the process very costly and time consuming. A low-code platform can provide the much-needed solution for government and public-sector organisations, while speeding up the release of digital government tools such as e-forms, video and workflow automation. Low code platforms are easy to use, economical and promote backend integration. They even let non-technical team members, who have little or no code knowledge, contribute to government digitisation.
2. Forming a Powerful Digital Strategy to Address the Key Elements of Digital Transformation
You need to chalk out a clear and coherent technology strategy, and align its organisational culture and leadership with the vision of transformation drive. Merely focusing on technologies without improving the organisation’s capabilities will not help. Since governments are particularly vulnerable to failing in technological transformation drives, mainly because of bureaucratic hurdles and red-tape, they must aim at a thoughtfully designed digital strategy. This includes the complete service and unit behind that service, rather than just fixing websites. This also means changing the overall attitude of the leaders and government servants.
3. Making the Service Users an Integral Part of Digital Transformation
Given the highly volatile nature of a digital environment, it is almost impossible for administrators to predict what the users are going to need. Tools and platforms built for citizens of any country must be flexible and offer user-friendly services. They should not be based upon the anticipated vision of an agency acting on the behalf of public, without knowing ground reality. Clearly this calls for processes and services to be created in sync with one another. There are many countries in the world, which already follow this approach. Some examples include allowing citizens to make suggestions to bills introduced before the legislators in the government assembly, opening datasets to create apps in collaboration with the citizens, and collecting citizen feedback through conventional tools as well as through website metrics.
This may sound easy, but understanding the needs of end users requires a completely new and holistic approach from the people in-charge of developing digital channels. There is a huge amount of tiring research required at the ground level. This involves observing the real-time behaviour of target users in practical situations, rather than staying confined to labs or making inferences based on group behaviour. The time has come, when governments will need to push themselves to understand the needs of the public by adopting an “outside in” approach rather than the traditional “inside out” one while designing digital services.
4. Encouraging Innovation and Collaboration in the Organisation
In order to reap maximum benefits from digital transformation, public-sector organisations or business should promote an open-minded approach and a mutually collaborative work culture. This cultural development process only becomes quicker and more responsive with elements like co-creation, welcoming ideas coming from outside, and crowdsourcing. The attitude towards unforeseen events and risk-taking abilities plays an important role.
Any attempt to bring change to the organisational culture is likely to be met with strong resistance. Reshaping the future is never an easy job. However, it is for senior leaders to be brave enough to take risks, be ready to face imperfection from time to time, and drill down the same attitude to lower levels with an open mind and continuous improvements.
5. Being Fully Aware of the Talent of Existing Workforce and Making Plans for Acquiring New Skills
Talent pool in any organisation needs to be constantly updated with introduction of new technologies and new workflows. To make the workforce more trained and capable, companies can either organise “re-skilling” programs on regular basis, or may choose to recruit new talent with the required skill sets. Since private-sector opportunities are lucrative enough to catch new talent quickly, public sector companies will need to shed the bureaucratic tag from their image, if they want to appear more flexible, more challenging, and more interesting to young aspirants for digital industry. Hire consultants who understand digital transformation and take up the project with a long term in view.
Digital transformation, especially in public sector is not going to be an easy process. Governments will need to take a risk and adopt an innovative approach towards problem solving. Even after that, usage of new technologies to manage big data coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) and maybe even blockchain would be needed to get analytics for future planning and smooth out existing systems.