State of the Digital Nation in the Public Sector | Unit4
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State of the Digital Nation in the Public Sector

from  December 22, 2021 | 4 min read

Five key findings on transformation challenges and opportunities for innovation

Drawing back the curtain on the back office

Around the world, the public sector has excelled at providing a vast range of services on tight budgets and amid volatile conditions. Teams have had to meet surging demand, develop agile ways of working, and adopt remote working in an instant.

Often, tech-savvy and frontline services have received all the innovation and plaudits. But now it's time for back-office teams and their digital transformation to take the limelight.

We’ve collaborated with researchers at Vanson Bourne to create a global survey of digital transformation across the public sector that explores the challenges and successes of the back-office innovation. This year marks the first edition of a State of the Digital Nation report that we hope to continue for many years.

The research provides deep insights that will prove valuable to finance, HR, IT, and operations professionals as they make decisions that will impact 2022 and beyond.

Because the last two years have shown us all that change can be extremely rapid and unpredictable, we intend to make the State of the Digital Nation a recurring series, and we’ll be repeating the survey every year from now on to help you and your organization understand the shifting landscape of the public sector and its technology adoption.

Exploring four key areas of public sector transformation

Our research is divided into four principle areas of inquiry: the challenges of transformation, the drive toward cost reduction, the fundamental importance of people (and what organizations are doing to ensure they look after them), and “what good looks like” in the form of a wish list of technological capabilities.

The challenge of transformation

Nearly every respondent to the survey (96%) reported some degree of struggle with the realities of change – especially the highly accelerated change of the last two years. Whether that be in the form of resistance from leadership teams or staff, a lack of flexibility in back-office software, a lack of skills, an inability to plan well for change, or a lack of internal alignment.

There is also a significant variation in which regions are being challenged by which obstacles – for instance, in Australia, leadership resistance to change is significantly higher (78%) than it is globally (56%.)

The drive towards cost reduction

Sudden changes in funding over the past 2 years have caused 95% of our respondents to seek avenues for cost saving – most commonly by making cuts to services.

However, the most mature organizations are beginning to find that their more radical approaches to cost savings (from redundancies to selling off real estate) can actually be offset by accelerating the speed of digital transformation to drive greater back-office efficiencies that free up vital resources.

The people question

One of our major avenues of questioning revolves around people, and the radical changes occurring in the public sector HR environment. Although many organizations are looking to make cost savings by reducing headcount, we also see a great degree of opportunity anticipated in the form of changes to working styles – with remote and hybrid working dramatically expanding available talent pools by removing geographical barriers. Meaning that not only will more organizations have access to staff with the right skills, they’ll have an increased capability to engage and communicate across silos.

What “good” looks like

Even though their organizations struggle at times, professionals have a clear idea of what digital transformation should look like in their workplace.

Respondents were asked what they would prioritize if they could redesign their back-office processes from scratch. They replied with four key achievements that their transformation projects should deliver in an ideal world.

… but in order to learn what they are, you’ll have to download the full white paper below.