Three trends driving IT reform in the public services

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While there are many examples of the private sector delivering disruptive digital services, most notably in the banking, hotel and taxi business, the government sector has lagged dramatically.

However, as the millennial generation comes into the workforce and gets to the point where they need to use government services more frequently, there’s a tremendous opportunity for government agencies to transform into digital services operations.

Many government systems are still largely paper-based and require citizens to re-enter information multiple times, whether it’s to pay taxes, to pay taxes, or apply for a driver’s license or a passport. There’s a movement afoot to change that and have government emulate agile start-ups such as Uber or Airbnb. People don’t need to re-enter basic information such as name, address and geographic location if the system already has that data. And more often than not, they want to access the service on their smartphones.

The following three trends are driving government agencies worldwide to become more agile and digital:

  1. An aging population. As the baby boom generation ages and moves into retirement, the supply of skilled workers has steadily decresed, which means the tax base will decline for many governments. So there’s an economic imperative for governments to deliver more efficient services with fewer people. Digital offers the most effective means of keeping service levels high while reducing costs and getting the most from a decreased number of skilled workers. Governments need to shift their spend from a focus on back-office IT services to funding more police on the beat, firemen fighting fires and building inspectors out in the field.
  2. A younger generation that expects digital services. The proliferation of smartphone apps has shown the world what it means to deliver faster and more efficient service levels. After using their smartphones for several years to do banking, order food and catch a taxi via Uber or Lyft, consumers, especially millennials, simply expect better quality service. Moving forward, they will expect the same kind of experience for government services such as filing taxes or applying for a wedding license.
  3. IT departments are becoming more agile. The IT staff stands at the epicenter of the digital transformation and many are moving to an agile service delivery model. IT departments are undergoing dramatic change, from siloed departments where IT workers do discrete tasks such as security, networking or storage, to smaller, multiskilled teams working on smaller projects that are expected to deliver applications in much less time. Countries in the developed world are having a more difficult time with this because many still run applications on legacy technology from the 1980s and early 1990s. Change is hard but it can be done.

Governments can start on the digital path by identifying a high-profile application and creating a multiskilled team that can deliver a new application within six to eight weeks. Once the agency has achieved an initial success, they can move on to other departments and slowly roll out other new applications. It’s important to think of digital transformation as a journey as opposed to a singular event. The goal: Make IT the enabler as opposed to the obstacle that slows people down.


Damien-Venkatasamy-headshotDamien Venkatasamy joined DXC Technology as General Manager for its Public Sector business in the UK and Ireland region in February 2015. Prior to this role, Damien was Director of Public Sector for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), UK and Ireland. During his time at TCS, Damien was responsible for the successful expansion and delivery of their UK and Ireland Public Sector business. Damien also worked for SopraSteria for five years in a variety of sales, delivery and general management roles, culminating in being a member of their UK Board. He has been exclusively focused on working with the Public Sector for the past 20 years.

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