Voices from Accenture Public Service

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Public service leaders exploring the potential of new technologies cannot ignore the impact on their workforce. It’s such a crucial aspect of the technology journey that it’s been included in this year’s Accenture Technology Vison key trends as The Human+ Worker. Technology is now so ingrained in the workforce that all workers now come equipped with not only their own skill set, but also a new range of abilities made possible by technology. And in the public sector, supporting this new way of working is critical for a few key reasons.

The first is that the public sector around the world has an ageing workforce. Taking the US as an example, the average age of a full-time federal employee is 47.5 years, with 45 percent of the workforce over 50 years old. The ability to hire and train new people will come into ever-sharper focus. Not only that, technology has a fundamental role to play in ensuring that the vast knowledge held by retiring workers is captured and made available to those that replace them. Storing the knowledge tends to be straightforward, but providing easy, instant access to it remains a challenge, as does ensuring a continuous flow of capturing new information. Using technology to achieve this should be a priority, not just to enable workers to improve performance, but also to ensure citizens are receiving the best possible services.

The source of those replacements is the second reason. The millennial generation entering the workforce now don’t aspire to a 30- or 40-year career in one place and want to work in organisations that equip them with the latest technology to better perform their roles. Public service organisations will need to ensure that they can support shorter, more diverse careers with the right technology tools. These tools need to augment a more dynamic workforce and provide the training, information and analysis that will enable them to perform effectively in different roles that frequently undergo change. Not only have aspirations changed, but also the speed at which new roles are created or must adapt thanks to new technology. That message is brought home by the Technology Vision survey finding that 43% of leaders in public service organisations think over 60% of their workforce will move into new roles within the next three years owing to the impact of technology, requiring substantial reskilling.

The third focuses on why government strategies that have aimed to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for multiple public services have often fallen short of expectations. Simply, the detailed knowledge required to advise on a range of different benefits and services is rarely available to a single person. But by using AI and smart technologies, individual workers can be given the tools to access and collate all the information they need to guide citizens in a new way that’s built around their needs. AI doesn’t mean that all decisions will be automated. Workers will still be able to apply discretion where appropriate. The difference from today? AI will provide workers with all the information they need to do that. So citizens will still be able to interact with a human – but it’ll be a human empowered with the latest technology to guide and support citizens every step of the way.

As workforces become Human+, every individual is augmented by their skills and knowledge and an increasing set of capabilities made possible through new technologies. In response, governments need to adapt the technology strategies that successfully created this next generation workforce to support a new way of working in the digital age.

What new roles do you see emerging in your organisation? And how do you plan on supporting them with technology? To learn more about the Human+ worker, take a look at this year’s Accenture Technology Vision.

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