A look back – and ahead – for public sector IT

Peter Ford, public sector industry principal at Pegasystems looks into past and future of public sector IT

The UK public sector must begin to quickly acknowledge and handle the numerous drivers for change. This could be to do with the importance of reducing the operational cost of service provision, the need to react quickly to the changing nature of service demand and political necessities and the shifting way that people and businesses want to be served.

Government agencies react in many different ways to changing external forces. In the UK, there is the added complication that the government and the service it provides has a major historical legacy to deal with.

UK government service provision started over four centuries previously, with basic services such as law and order and defence of the realm. Service demand has risen to the point where around 40% of the UK’s GDP is now consumed in the provision of public service. The gradual evolution of service and provider has resulted in a complex set of organisations, processes and policies that can hold back transformation.

In 2018, we may see face-to-face and email interaction diminish while citizen service improves. This will be as a result of an increase in automation and the drive for operational efficiency. These will result in the use of intelligent business process and case management solutions, together with context-sensitive guidance for self-service.

Furthermore, robotic desktop automation may be a key early quick win for government agencies followed by robotic process automation. Suppliers that are able to utilise legacy hosted information to provide context to self-service guidance or service centre for recommended next-best-action will win the race.

These processes will need to be supported by mature AI (artificial intelligence) with proactive and responsive capabilities. The days of process automation alone will start to curtail and suppliers who only provide this will diminish. There will always be ‘exceptions’ with those who cannot or will not use self-service or the IT that supports this and they will receive greater human support from government agencies, where resources have been freed-up through automation. Automation and process change itself will provide the ability to change organisational structures and operating models.

‘Joined-up’ government

Next year, the evolution of ‘joined-up’ government will accelerate. Notwithstanding security compliance, government agencies will start to share data, embrace the end-to-end citizen journey and design solutions that overcome current organisation and procedural boundaries. The government will predict and act upon key life events such as births, house moves and job changes. This ability to predict will represent the first steps in the re-design of the Civil Service based on future customer centric needs, rather than the product of historical evolution over the last few centuries.

Skills will need to shape up during 2018. Civil servants will be helped with upskilling to become effective in digital transformations through intuitive systems that present a holistic picture of the individual citizen need. AI solutions will use contextual information from existing systems, either within or beyond the parent agency to support the speed and quality of citizen outcomes and interactions. Contacting government via any channel will be expected and provided.

We may indeed see the end of coding as much as we know it. The term coding may just disappear. Low or no-code enterprise solutions that can be configured will emerge as the norm with re-use and readiness for change in-built. With these scenarios, policy change will not be constrained by IT, as it has been during the last three decades.

Meanwhile, agility will be seen as an all-important factor. Customers will demand the three-month delivery of IT solutions. Agile solutions that can easily be changed will become a key pre-requisite for those government functions that typically are subject to policy change.

From the evolution of joined-up government to the death of coding as we know it, 2018 will see the UK public sector coming to terms with how it must deliver efficiencies, keep up with policy changes and, all throughout, serve its constituents as they expect and deserve.

For more information, please visit https://www.pega.com/.

 

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