Re-imagining government services for the digital age

Technology can increase efficiency in government agencies, freeing up funds for growth and transformation initiatives.

Every industry, including government, is facing digital disruption. Seventy-five percent of government leaders say traditional business models aren’t sustainable in the current environment. The public expects the agility and efficiency found in the private sector, and governments must appeal to new workers with the skills to meet these requirements to attract investment and grow economies. Security alone demands significant increases in investment and oversight. For many governments, it may take time to re-examine their role in society and re-imagine how to achieve sustained success. Perhaps decades. But change is inevitable.

Accelerating change and digital transformation

Governments spend too much time doing the same tasks the way they always have. The time has come for a different approach. Advances in technology have elevated the need for change in how governments operate. For decades, information technology created systems of record and registries of critical activities. More recently, governments have embraced analytic tools to better glean insight from the vast amounts of data that they now accumulate. For example, the IBM Institute for Business Value found that 87 percent of government executives surveyed said cognitive computing plays a disruptive role in their organizations, and that they intend to invest in cognitive capabilities.

By leveraging automation to complete repetitive tasks with greater consistency and speed, many back-office processes can be re-imagined. As technologies mature, every government process will be re-examined and re-architected.

Supported by artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing, flesh-and-blood experts will find more time to focus on activities where human judgment and experience has greater impact. For example, AI and cognitive computing-enabled tools can make filing taxes faster and easier, and deliver more precise results.

As technologies mature, every government process will be re-examined and re-architected.

Network technologies, including blockchain, that enhance the security of online records, will redefine many core government functions such as global trade, customs, and visa processing, rendering them more trustworthy and efficient. Once a record is added to the blockchain, it’s permanent and difficult to tamper with. The Internet of Things (IoT) that infuses devices with the ability to communicate status information to other systems that then evaluate and act on it, will increasingly help run integrated cities.

Global government debt now exceeds USD 63.1 trillion. Economic stagnation and resulting austerity measures place financial pressures on many governments, leading to budget cuts that can derail projects. More efficient business processes leave more cash flow to funnel toward growth, transformation, and sustained lower operational costs elsewhere in the organization.

Learn how governments can accelerate their progress and secure a brighter future for their people.

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Meet the author

Sreeram Visvanathan, IBM Global Managing, Director, Government

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Originally published 01 January 2018