Voices from Accenture Public Service


What seemed like science fiction just a few decades ago is now reality. Adoption of new technologies, such as Artificial intelligence and machine learning, is the one thing that will enable public service organizations to transform at the pace needed to keep up with citizen expectations. Gabriel Bellenger explains how technology disruption is part of the solution for better outcomes.



So the pace at which we have seen innovation coming in the last 3 years has been exponential. There is a famous diagram which shows the time it takes to get various innovations coming into use and if you look at the PC for example, it took about 20 years to reach 50 million consumers and users, it took only 7 years for this to happen with the iPhone, it will probably only take a few years for blockchain to reach that number and so the rate of adoption is amazing and all of those technologies bring a part of the answer.

A good example of that is machine learning this is the ability to use a machine to actually do something that when I was younger, I would never imagine was possible which is thinking like a human. We did a recent project in France with the Tax Administration looking at how to identify swimming pools by looking at maps to help identify non-compliant citizens who don’t declare their swimming pool which is taxed in France and machine learning is an interesting process because you need to show the machine thousands of times the swimming pool.

And the machine, like a small child will learn – a blue dot and a blue dot car, a blue dot painted on a road or it can be a swimming pool but you get a level of accuracy by repeating this training and using those algorithms so the organization was able to get to about 70% of the identifications being right and when you have that you can then provide that information to the auditors so that they can go and ask those citizens, we believe you have a swimming pool – please let us know. Or you can go and say we know you have a swimming pool now is the time to pay for your taxes on it.

The point I am making around machine learning is that this is no more science fiction, this is something that has operational benefit and adoptions of new technologies is really going to be the one way forward for public service organizations to transform at the pace they need because this rate of adoption is also what citizens are expecting so they will have the ability to introduce those services, I would say in the next 5 years to actually follow the demand that public services needs to be able to address based on the citizen’s experience at a bank, at a shop or anything they do in their daily life. So, technology disruption is complex, but this is where the opportunity is.

This is absolutely correct. One of the key things when we are looking at consulting and the role of consulting is being that glue. That glue that understands within industry how does a business really operate and with this understanding, this clear industry understanding we are able to bring the solution that fits that need.

If we look for instance in the healthcare industry for example at how electronic medical imaging has revolutionized the way that the health industry has worked.

What was really difficult was being able to give the access and the right level of understanding of the systems to thousands of case workers and nurses and administrators that didn’t really have a proficiency in how to use those tools. And that is what we do in Accenture, we are able to bring the technology to that moment in time when it is needed – when the patient is coming in the Emergency and you are able to say this is what we are seeing out of this diagnostic.
Another example in terms of how we bring technology, industry and digital together.
So, technology can have a huge impact on the ability to improve diagnostics.

So, I think this is what is very complex for senior leaders of public service organizations which is the balance to being able to create a stable environment, to keep their operations running, whether you are a police force or a healthcare organization or a social service organization – you still have millions of patients. taxpayers, benefit recipients to actually serve every single day. But at the same time you need to be able to figure out some space so you create agility in your organizations to absorb some of those new technologies into your operations and that is an extremely complex balance to strike but most organizations in Europe are on that journey and they are able to actually identify those areas where you are able to free up some of your resources and most important resources by using things like Intelligent Automations, Robotic Process Automation, where you are able to take all those mundane tasks away from your workforce and free them up so you are focusing on the frontline, what really matters, the pensioner who phones and says “I haven’t received my pension this month, what happened”.

And when people typically phone in they will be directed to the right individual through a complex series of analyses which is fueled by increasingly data driven processes.

For instance, most organizations are interested in segmenting the customer base so if you have tax payers, the tax agency will already know what bracket you are likely to be – are you somebody who always pays late? Are you somebody who is going to be proficient and is always going to pay on time?

And by understanding the customer segment you will actually will be directed to what will be different and the message that will be given to you will also be different and that is by as I mentioned before being able to digitally decouple and to get the right talent and to free up the people with the right knowledge you are really able to take the benefit from all of those new technologies and in some way get to par with the experience that a citizen will have within the private sector.


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