What does 2018 hold for public sector tech?

The next twelve months present an opportunity for the UK public sector to recognise and cope with the many forces of change: the sector will come to terms with the importance of reacting to the changing nature of service demand and political necessities, the new ways in which people and businesses expect to be served, and, of course, the need to reduce operational cost of service provision.

In the UK, the government and the service it provides is wrestling with a significant historical legacy. Long ago, UK Government service provision began with basic services such as defence of the realm and law and order.

Now, service demand has increased to a level where approximately 40% of GDP is consumed in the provision of public service. The transformation of service and provider has led to a set of organisations, policies and processes that potentially hinder real transformation.

>See also: Public sector IT infrastructure: liberation from legacy

Next year we could see citizen service improving while face-to-face and email interactions fall away from the radar, driven by an increase in automation and organisations striving to be more operationally efficient. These are likely to usher in the adoption of intelligent business process and case management solutions, along with context sensitive guidance for self-service.

In addition, robotic desktop automation may be particularly attractive for government agencies, along with robotic process automation. Suppliers gain a major advantage by utilising legacy hosted information to provide context to self-service guidance or service centre for recommended next-best-actions.

Mature AI technology will need to support these processes with responsive and proactive capabilities. The days of process automation alone will start coming to a close, and suppliers who only provide this may struggle to stay ahead. There will always be ‘exceptions’ with those who can’t or won’t use self-service or the IT that supports this – government agencies will give them greater human support where resources have been freed-up through automation. Automation and process change itself will enable the changing of organisational structures and operating models.

>See also: The digital transformation of the UK public sector

In 2018 we may also see the emergence of improved ‘joined-up’ government. Government agencies will increasingly share data, accept the idea of an end-to-end citizen journey and design solutions that overcome current organisation and procedural limitations. Key life events such as births, house moves and job changes are moments that government will proactively act upon. This change to proactive rather than reactive will demonstrate the first steps in the re-design of the Civil Service, one that is based on future customer centric needs, not the product of historical evolution over several centuries.

2018 will be a year to focus on skills. Upskilling will help civil servants to become effective in digital transformations through intuitive systems that present a holistic picture of the individual citizen need.

AI will make use of contextual information from existing systems either within or beyond the parent agency to support the quality and speed of citizen interactions and outcomes. We’ll see the importance of being able to contact government via any channel.

>See also: Accelerating digital transformation in the public sector

The following twelve months may also spell the end of coding in the sense that we typically understand it to be. This is because configurable low or no-code enterprise solutions will emerge as the norm with re-use and readiness for change in-built. In such a climate, IT will not constrain policy change as it has been for the last three decades.

Ultimately, agility will be important throughout this, as customers ask for the three-month delivery of IT solutions. Solutions will need to be agile and easily changeable for those government functions that are usually subject to policy change.

Indeed, public sector IT in 2018 means better staying on top of policy changes, better delivering efficiencies and continuously serving constituents with stellar customer service.


Sourced by Peter Ford, Public Sector Industry principal, Pegasystems

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...