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Driving Public Sector Digital Transformation


Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” 

It is always amusing (if slightly controversial) to start public sector IT presentations off with this quote, but it sets the tone, gets the blood flowing and it helps convey a sense of how (we very much hope) that time has passed.

And governments are changing. All around the world we see public administration bodies being compelled to reinvent themselves, become more dynamic and embrace all of the cloud-driven, often mobile-first, technologies that will ultimately lead them towards a new point of digital transformation.

Governments have to do this, because governments have to now reshape to serve connected smart-city societies, where individuals expect intuitive consumer-level interactions with every public service that they come into contact with.

Governments can no longer afford to be seen as slow moving, bureaucratic behemoths slowed down by the weight of their own red tape.

A fundamental reinvention at the core

To become proactive, forward-looking bodies, governments realise that they must now reinvent themselves at the core. This requires a shift towards digitally transformative technologies that will elevate back office processes, operations processes and commercial processes into a new digital space.

That new digital space is perhaps unsurprisingly driven by cloud computing – and in 2018, with the UK G-Cloud Digital Marketplace now established, there should be no misgivings about the use of the cloud computing as a public data resource.

But government digital transformation isn’t just about moving existing systems to the cloud computing model. It is also all about using a new digital fabric to innovate for the future. Not always the type of thing you expect the public sector to talk about, this is where new products and services are developed and brought online, new public-private channels are forged and new business models and cemented.

The UK government has digitally progressed exceptionally well in relation to some other contemporary first world economies. As we now look to the UK’s digital government future and further afield, we can see new innovations, such as micro-transactions over social media channels like WhatsApp, being used to perform a certain number of public services.

When we look at the pressure that the commercial world is putting on user experience, government is now having to understand how fickle consumers are today in relation to the way they are using their phone provider, utilities suppliers and even services such as Uber. This is the transformative shift that government must now embrace. The use of public services has to be efficient, always-on, collaborative, intuitive and perhaps even fun.

ServiceNow is aware that citizens can now form an invaluable information channel for government to use to operate with and improve service delivery in public sector. This can all be channelled towards populating a service portal so that all services can be managed from a holistic, fully-informed viewpoint.

Four factors in every service

If we consider what a service (any service, governmental or otherwise) relates to and is composed of, we know that all services are actions designed to: 

  1. Get help.
  2. Make a request.
  3. Make a change.
  4. Provide a user with knowledge and advice.

In real terms, these four elements manifest themselves in any number of things, like visitor building registration processes for example, which are typically forms-based applications. This is the type of process that typically takes up to much time and manual effort inside any given organisation – and these are the kinds of things we can build within the ServiceNow platform in as little as 10 minutes.

We can then take that information from our forms-based applications forward and start to apply anomaly detection models to work out who should be where at what time so that we can analyse what kinds of workflow patterns are playing out across the business.

At this level we now see a lot of peer benchmarking where ServiceNow customers are using anonymised data in specific industry verticals to see how fast, for example, a financial services organisation would be able to fix and outage or fulfil a service request. If we can start to bring these new types of actionable analytics to bear then we can start to make the following type of judgement:

  • I know how (a public ministry or agency) performs historically.
  • I know how it is performing currently due to service portal analytics.
  • I know how other similar operations across peer review benchmarks are performing.
  • I know where this departments need to get to operationally.
  • I know what types of strategic business action you need to take next.

A wide adoption curve

On the total all-industry path to digital transformation we see chemical firms alongside oil and gas organisations and utilities all at the slow end of the curve. At the other ‘born in the cloud’ end of the curve we see tourism, banking and media at the most innovative business operations.

Government can use the breadth of this viewpoint as a measure to take individual ministries, and the sub-agent divisions that compose them, to strategically plan and build service-centric workflows for the future.

The new era of government digital transformation will work with a new services taxonomy that underpins service experience, service delivery and service assurance – all benefiting from a higher-level fabric of service analytics.

ServiceNow exists to automate business processes faster, more effectively and more efficiently. As we now help build digital government programmes far elevated above the data silo architectures of the past, we will help build a better society, for all societies.

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