Public service leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the drive to streamline and simplify their systems and processes and make interactions between the state and private sectors far more straightforward. The emergence of new digital platforms and channels can be brought to bear across a wide range of Government services, particularly those where growing public demand is putting pressure on conventional practices. The benefits of doing so will be significant and have impacts ranging from higher satisfaction ratings, greater workplace efficiencies, tangible cost savings and voluntary compliance from citizens due to increased ease of use.
Technological disruptions have fundamentally changed the way people live, work, interact and learn. Commercial organisations have been quick to adapt; the retail and banking industries are leading the way in fulfilling their customers’ needs through ‘always on’ digital channels. The reality is that these digital consumers are also “digital citizens” and have similar expectations of their governments to provide dramatic changes in the way they operate and offer high quality digital services while delivering value for money.
Governments and the public sector can answer this demand and New Zealand is well placed to do so as it enjoys a period of relative economic stability, a government comfortably into its third term and a consistent policy framework. This is the ideal scenario on which to plan and develop new approaches that will meet the evolving needs of an increasingly sophisticated community.
If digital government is to become pervasive, governments must focus on their digital strategy, which should be deeply embedded in the government agenda and public reforms. Investing in key information and communication technology (ICT) assets and the digitalisation of core public services, such as taxation, education and healthcare, will help
Digital Era Governance
We are accelerating into a new digital era, which is set to redefine the relationship between the government and their citizens. This paradigm shift has the potential for the government to unlock much higher levels of productivity, be more connected to their citizens and provide a high-quality integrated service experience. While digital government strategies have commenced rollout across New Zealand there is still progress to be made, particularly if New Zealand is to achieve a single framework that allows a two-way exchange of information and services when citizens want and need it. For example, the opportunity for technologically-based change ranges from offering a streamlined front-office, user-centric design of public services to employing digital channels such as social media more extensively.
In the spirit of action and a focus on execution, below are some recommendations for how New Zealand can achieve digital-era governance:
If digital government is to become pervasive, governments must focus on their digital strategy, which should be deeply embedded in the government agenda and public reforms. Investing in key information and communication technology (ICT) assets and the digitalisation of core public services, such as taxation, education and healthcare, will help. And governments need to be connected across agency boundaries to create a strong culture of collaboration and data sharing, increasing the ease with which digital communities can access the services and information they need.
With the above measures, governments can unleash a new digital public service ecosystem and act as ‘bridge-makers’ to encourage open innovation across a range of stakeholders (businesses, academia and community groups). ‘Citizen-led’ digitally enabled public service transformation should be elevated to the highest priority levels with a coherent approach across the various levels of government.
Successful leaders in both the public and private sectors consistently drive themselves and their organisations to change. The advent of new technologies is accelerating the pace at which that change takes place and there is no better time than now to develop and implement strategies that have the potential for significant and rapid change.
This is how New Zealand can lead public service transformation and cement its ability to provide a highly productive public sector, attracting the best talent, and serving the community by delivering public services for the future.
Justin Gray is Accenture New Zealand’s Country Managing Director.
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