How Digital Transformation becomes strategic to the Public Sector?




Today, private sector companies and even the public sector entities are inclined towards digital transformation to enhance the way they serve the citizens, simplify processes, reduce incurring costs, and provide better access to their services.

We all know the business case for this much needed digital transformation involves contactless working, big data analytics, enhanced employee mobility, modern collaboration techniques, and exceptional customer experience. It comprises all the processes and activities of integrating new digital technology for seamless workflows.

Let’s see how exactly digital transformation can prove to be strategic for the public sector:

Why does the public sector need digital transformation?

Executing public sector digital transformation is not an easy job. There are myriads of risks and issues involved, which is why one needs to thoroughly research, strategically plan, and teach leadership to carry out digital transformation.

Whether it is AI for intuitive web chats or using chatbots, there is still much more to explore in the digital world. Delivering services to the broader public is definitely more encompassing than private sector services. Thus, the government sector needs to create services that are optimized to adapt to everyone. 

The services must be accessible, functional, yet sustainable, and secure at the same time for future improvement. Not just that, it must also offer exceptional user experience, no matter how much the pace of digital transformation accelerates.

How is Public Sector shifting to Digital Transformation?

Here are some of the building blocks that are essential for government bodies to switch to digital transformation successfully:

1. Leadership

When embracing the digital world, it is crucial to have superior buy-in to be successful. Leadership is an essential aspect when implementing digital transformation, as it is all about complete business transformation driven by new technologies. It is not a mere IT project, but much more encompassing than that. This is why it demands strategic and broader planning with everyone’s role defined thoroughly in it. And this requires cross-departmental leadership.  

2. People and Culture change

Digital transformation is not just about technology but also about the culture and workforce of the public sector. Managing cultural change and people are often more challenging, yet it is given the least importance. Digital transformation cannot really take place without the contribution of people. 

3. Hire a Program Manager

Public sector organizations would need a program manager who will take charge of the transformation program. It could be an operations expert, IT expert, or a generalist having experience in digital transformation. Getting a transition manager and a program manager would be the best, though. 

4. Risk Management

It is a known fact that public sector entities won’t have perfect insights and knowledge before starting digital transformation. Of course, there will be risks involved as it takes time to entirely analyze where the versions of applications, software, and hardware are deployed and on which device.

And if the IT services are outsourced, it gets even more challenging to collect data. To tackle these issues, the public sector must have a risk appetite in place to efficiently manage, analyze, accept, and tackle the risks involved. 

In truth, risk appetite is one of the key factors of program management, without which it is impossible to move the transformation project forward.

5. There’s more to it than just cloud

Indeed, digital transformation requires switching to cloud, but not entirely. Sometimes, government bodies might need a hybrid model, where some legacy platforms can be on-premises, some in cloud, and others in data centers. 

“Cloud-first” is no longer a government policy so that public sector entities can take a flexible approach. Digital transformation is not a one-day thing, rather a consistent effort to improve citizen experience. For this, your people must always be aware of the essential steps involved for improvement and the need for it.

Digital transformation simply cannot be run by just the IT department, but it also demands contribution from business at-large, including operations, finance, security, commercial, procurement, and legal departments. 

Challenges and Opportunities when implementing Digital Transformation:

For the public sector, digital transformation is a critical, all-encompassing process that is likely to face various opportunities and challenges.

When transforming government organizations, following are some of the main challenges that occur in the process:

  • Investing in People and Culture: It's a given that government bodies need to invest in their workforce’s capabilities and skills to bring about digital transformation. Along with this, public sector entities must look to invest in techniques that will increase their clock speed of developing new services to match the increasing citizen demands. 

Digital transformation calls for a cultural change to your current way of working. Government employees must learn to upskill in order to adapt to the digital world. For this, project leaders need to motivate employees to shift their mindset to the new way of working and keeping track of their development.

  • Access to information: With AI, machine learning, and data analytics into action, organizations will be able to access and manage data in a better way. This promotes better asset utilization and higher productivity. Citizens who lack digital literacy or do not have access to the internet must also be catered with better services. Making right use of User demographics, User researchers, and User Experience Designer and Leads will help public sector bodies to establish trust in citizens, improve security, and allow easy access to information.
  • Transforming existing legacy systems: Another greater challenge when it comes to transforming government organizations is their investment in existing processes and systems. 

Government bodies must recognize the right set of new technologies compatible with their existing systems or opt for a complete upgrade. For that, one needs to enforce the adoption of digital guidelines and standards across organizations. They need to transform their existing legacy systems and processes to support new workflows and services. Some government offices might have software licensing or legacy contracts to consider. Newer technologies generally rely on cloud platforms, and a few government systems might block software in a cloud environment. Hence, you need to review your existing systems and accordingly research new technologies that are sustainable and fully-connected for future automation.

  • Seamless citizen experience: When availing government services, ‘digital native’ citizens and companies are now expecting a well-connected, seamless, and hassle-free experience.
  • Policy and financial limits: With an ever-evolving digital world, citizen demands are increasing, while the pace of policy change seems to lag behind.

One of the most significant challenges of public sector digital transformation is investment in the workforce- including their new skills, working culture, and unique way of thinking. Apart from this, getting access to data siloed in different legacy systems, collaboration issues within government bodies, and policy constraints are some of the other crucial concerns. 

The only way to tackle the set of opportunities and challenges is to look at each challenge’s corresponding objectives and assign a team to enhance organizational capabilities to adapt to a digital world.

Strategy and Roadmap for Public Sector Digital Transformation:

Public sector organization teams need to define their core abilities to deliver the desired digital transformation objectives.

Here are some of the main focus points and priorities to consider for being successful in transformation:


Apart from this, government bodies must also focus on capabilities areas such as innovation management, cyber security, and transition management.

Major Use Cases of Public Sector Digital Transformation:

  • Mail Automation:

Automating mailroom workflows involves ingesting, indexing, processing, and routing the incoming mails to their optimal destinations within an organization. This automatically discards the need to do time-consuming manual tasks, thereby saving time as well as costs. 

At the beginning of 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs took this approach to modernize the agency with smart document processing, automated mail packet sorting, high-speed scanners, and streamlined operations. 

Another excellent example is how the federal agency scaled its operations by modernizing its mailroom processes. They were able to reduce mail deployment and processing time from hours to mere minutes.

  • Complete Digital modernization

US DOD (Department of Defense) has prioritized a few strategies, including cyber security, cloud, AI, Command, Communications, and Control. With the COVID-19 pandemic, government bodies will be spending much more on IT cloud, as departments will be working remotely with improved work-from-home protocols.

  • Automated Invoice and Digital Payment Approval 

Government agencies need to focus on improvement of internal operations for sustenance and growth, prior to bettering the external services. One great example is improving the digital payment process. 

No doubt, the public sector faces challenges to process and manage invoices and vendor payments. Government organizations can really benefit from automating invoice processing and digital payment approval.

  • Smart City

Utilization of intelligent content capture tools by municipalities can provide invaluable insights to make cities smarter. For example, intelligent IoT (Internet of Things) sensors such as street light sensors, traffic cameras, etc. can gather data and insights regarding high traffic areas in a city for better resources and assets management.

Conclusion

To wrap it up, the initiative of public sector digital transformation revolves around citizens. Simply, understanding who and where your citizens are, mapping their experiences, and accordingly planning your services can make a massive difference to government agencies. 

Public sector entities must take gradual steps towards transforming their every single service while tackling other initiatives and actions that come forward during the whole transition process.