With the Australian government set to digitise its public services, expect traditional models to be upturned for vastly different practices that draw inspiration from the start-up sector and global trailblazers.

A digital delivery program of this scale is no small task, but investing time and effort into forming a successful digital transformation will rewrite old ways of working, accelerate efficiency and usher in a new era of customer service.  

Here, we look at factors that will support the delivery of government service digitisation.

According to Government and the Global CEO, a March 2015 study conducted by PwC, government digitisation can improve everything from self-service to customisation and automation – attributes that can help the public sector get closer to its goals. But there’s also a serious gap between expectations and reality: the study also found that 64% of state-backed CEOs are worried about the pace of digital change.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is making a concerted effort to bridge this gap. In January 2015, he launched the Digital Transformation Office (DTO), an agency that champions government-wide transformation via the Digital Service Standard, a service delivery model that couples the due diligence and transparency associated with traditional procurement methods with modern processes that foster open innovation and eliminate silos and internal conflict.

Here are three things to consider when it comes to enabling government digitisation.

Ensure that every department signs up to your digital journey

Workplace barriers and department-wide conflict can cause even the loftiest digital agendas to fall flat. The Digital Service Standard revolves around the notion that winning strategies for government digitisation are those that have gained cross-department approval, are founded on a singular vision, and align staff incentives with KPIs.

The UK government’s digital transformation effort is an exemplary nod to this ideal – and this week, the man that oversaw it, Paul Shetler, was appointed as the DTO’s CEO.

In 2012, the UK created the Government Digital Service, a body that transformed the ways in which its 62 million citizens engaged with 24 departments and 331 agencies around the nation.

In spite of logistical challenges, the UK unit was able to achieve government-wide buy-in and prevent the kind of internal conflict that stems from competing priorities by regularly declaring its targets and bringing experts from various agencies on board.

In 2013, its Government Digital Strategy Annual Report found that cutting IT spend and migrating offline services onto online platforms saved the government £500 million between 2012 and 2013 – a powerful result in light of the PwC report finding that 72% of state-backed CEOs are concerned about fiscal deficit.

Prioritise the end user

In May 2015, the DTO resolved to eliminate self-service barriers and put the user journey first. Initiatives such as the federal government’s new $485 million e-Health project, which grants every Australian access to a comprehensive digital health record and the ability to withhold confidential data is a case in point.

In 2011, the Netherlands also invested in creating a seamless customer experience with stellar results. By turning municipalities into ‘citizen’s desks’ which provide a single point of contact for queries – thanks to a centralised website, call centre and phone number – it made customer interactions more streamlined, transparent and accessible than ever before.

Take a strategic approach to investment

For the DTO, undertaking comprehensive research into users’ behaviors and preferences has set the stage for digital policies that swap vague predictions for insights gathered in real time.

Schemes such as the MyGov service, which equips customers with a digital inbox featuring voice authentication and identity services, prioritises the user experience while removing redundant steps.

The Singapore government has also benefitted from its ability to make wise investments. In 2011, the city-state improved efficiency across the healthcare industry by digitising its citizen’s medical records and building a Software Design and Development Centre for Excellence, a site dedicated to the art and science of capturing customer insights and designing the next generation of government e-services.

The Singapore government understands that digital transformation takes ongoing investment in infrastructure and IT research, a strength that’s seen it come closer than ever to reaching its goals.

Whether it’s gaining government-wide buy-in or investing wisely and strategically, successful digital transformation hinges on your ability to consider the big picture while steering away from a quick fix. What do you think it takes to master digital change from a government perspective?



Nick Spooner

Nick Spooner is a partner at PwC and the leader of PwC Digital Services Experience Centre across South East Asia and Australia.

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