Digitalization: The future of the public sector


Digital Transformation has become imperative for all organizations, either public or private. The quickly evolving technological advancements have reshaped the customer experience, enabling easier access to online services and products. At this point, people are able to receive any service or complete transactions with only one click of the button more efficiently and effectively. As businesses have themselves transformed towards digital approaches, they along with citizens, are calling upon governments to follow suit by becoming more agile and replace their cumbersome workflows into streamlined digital processes.

Challenges for driving digitalization for public sector

The provision of online services by the public sector has not always been in congruence with those provided by other sectors in regard to usability, accessibility, and adherence. While comparing with private sector companies, who seem to be a step further towards adopting the digital trends, the public sector institutions, are undoubtedly lagging behind, especially in terms of adjusting and keeping up with the customer increasing demands for online service delivery.  Taking a deeper look, this gap is mainly attributed to a wide array of factors:

  • Budgetary constraints
  • The complexity of agencies involved
  • Legacy systems in place (policies and IT infrastructure established)
  • Impaired capability to recruit and harness the elite digital talents
  • Staffing rules and regulations
  • Skepticism around data security and privacy

Apart from the above-mentioned challenges, the governmental services can be categorized into two diverse classifications which at their implementation, can pose certain challenges for governments: information services and transactional services.

While the information services are associated with publishing and sharing information on relevant online channels which nowadays is quite easily done through social media channels, and thus are not a challenging mechanism to be implemented, the transactional services represent a more resilient instrument which is harder for implementation. For basic services, such as applying for ID or passport, citizens most of the time find themselves dealing with multiple bureaucratic procedures while serving as ‘conveyor’ from one department to another with the only purpose of finishing a transaction. Nevertheless, these transactions most of the time tend to be quite costly. For instance, according to the UK Digital Efficiency Report, the governmental services provided via digital channels are 20 times lower than those via telephone interaction, and 50 times lower than those via face-to-face interaction.

Principles for Accelerating Digital Transformation

The public sector adoption of digital services needs to initially start with a well-established and developed architecture and design mechanism of digital services while following a bottom-up approach, thus always taking into consideration and prioritizing the customer needs. Therefore, the key principles for scheming practical digital solutions include:

  • Digitalization of documents
  • Availability of services via mobile platforms
  • Legislation amendment

Nevertheless, implementing digital services within the public sector is a complex process which must take into consideration multiple areas such as:

  • Concentrate on the service design, preferably co-ordinate with customers, in order to have an exact idea of what is exactly demanded;
  • Establish mechanisms to incentivize the customer to use those digital services as well as organize campaigns and other awareness mechanisms to ensure that people are aware of the benefits provided by digital services;
  • Facilitate and provide such services throughout multiple platforms;
  • Establish a monitoring framework, which creates the standard for continuous improvement;
  • Be proactive towards change management and staff training, both in government institutions and agencies.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash.