Government intervention on an unprecedented scale

COVID-19 government intervention was a catalyst to innovation, but digital transformation is needed.

The social and economic impacts of COVID-19 have required government intervention on an unprecedented scale, far surpassing that seen in WWII. The recovery, too, will parallel the post-war efforts that propelled the UK into the modern age.

This intervention has served as a much-needed catalyst for innovation in the public sector. For decades, the public sector has faced the pressure of delivering citizens agile digital services while contending with shrinking budgets and strict regulations.

By injecting £60bn into public services, the UK government not only offered much-needed support to British citizens, but boosted digital transformation practically overnight, providing a clear picture of what efficient, technology-driven governance can look like.

However, the stream of funds is simply not sustainable in the long-term, and there is mounting pressure on public services to push for efficiency and innovation on a much tighter budget. The need to provide streamlined public services has never been more critical.

The need for digital efficiency

The problem is, public agencies are still overwhelmingly dependent on outdated modes of working—think paper documents and spreadsheets—to manage citizens’ needs.

This reliance on manual workflows and disjointed systems is a key source of inefficiency, making the business of public services far too time-consuming. Even simple tasks like logging information can take days to complete; departmental processes become trapped in silos, breaking down communication and resulting in lost productivity.

There’s no doubt that there is a need to digitise and bring together these disparate departments and processes. The challenge is doing so in a way that provides fertile ground for further innovation and meets growing consumer expectations.

Understandably, people want the same digital-first experience from public services.

After all, citizens are used to premium customer experience, facilitated by technology, in every part of their lives, whether it’s groceries, banking, or ordering a taxi. Understandably, people want the same digital-first experience from public services. Whether it’s ordering a parking permit or applying for Universal Credit, constituents want to be able to do so quickly and easily, wherever they are.

Public services meet a new type of workflow

Though the scale of funding we’ve seen throughout the pandemic can’t last, the lessons public services have picked up over the past year certainly will. Flexibility, efficiency, and the smart use of technology will help government innovate, cut costs, and provide better services for less.

As we move forward, public services should be looking to do away with the confusion of countless different systems and processes and unify all operations on a single strategic platform that facilitates fast, data-driven decisions and makes integrating disparate systems easy.

The benefits are clear. With a holistic view of service demand and performance, public agencies can use a single platform to manage citizen requests and transfer enquiries, accelerating service delivery and giving citizens the rapid, interactive digital services they want.

And by making it easier to provide the day-to-day services the UK relies on, our public services will have more time and energy to think bigger and build public services that are fit for the future.

[Read also: Strategies for successful digital transformation]

Driving change with ServiceNow

Our public services have faced perhaps the greatest challenge in their history over the past year. But those challenges now present us with a great opportunity to change tack and move toward a more efficient future.

As the platform of platforms for digital transformation, the ServiceNow Now Platform helps industries of all shapes and sizes consolidate disparate systems into one single view and one single architecture that makes work, work better for people.

Public services are no exception. By using a smarter way to workflow, government can beat bureaucracy and unlock more time and resources to invest in the creative thinking that will see our vital services support the population long into the future.

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