Voices from Accenture Public Service


In my previous blog, I looked at some of the major changes that human services agencies need to address as the digital age and its new ways of living, thinking and working start to take shape. We’re moving to an environment that requires a lifelong circumstance support model. Powered by data, this model makes interventions and provides people with the support that they need before an event. This shift towards predictive services also needs new governance for ecosystems of public, private and third party providers, centred around the needs of the end-user.

Human services leaders understand the need to change. The big question is how? I see three key eras of transformation: the era of support (that’s today); the era of enablement (the nearer-term future) and, finally, the era of empowerment (the longer-term future). Each requires distinct, digitally-driven capabilities and business models.

ERA OF SUPPORT: Today, citizens can contact agencies through many digital channels. But it’s up to each person to request what they need. In the best-case, a counsellor works with a job-seeker to assess their circumstances, identifies jobs that best fit their skills and experience, and guides him or her on next steps. But this sort of ‘reactive’ approach works only until the next crisis. Most public employment services across Europe currently offer this nature of support where the onus is still on the individual.

ERA OF ENABLEMENT: In this forthcoming era agencies will harness advanced analytics and insights to predict life events. For instance, human services agencies would collaborate with businesses and industry forums to identify sectors or jobs at risk, and contact affected workers ahead of time. Agencies will capture detailed information about workers via new digital channels like chatbots, enabling them to explore other ways to smooth career transitions. Agencies like Norway’s NAV is starting a shift to a life-events support model that aims to provide the right services and benefits at the right time.

ERA OF EMPOWERMENT: In the not too distant future citizens will have access to virtual assistants that support everyday interactions as well as overall work- and life-planning. These assistants will have a 360-degree view of a citizen’s circumstances. Integrated service delivery across social care, education, health and employment could be offered on a real-time basis and adapt to an individual’s changing needs. In Finland, KEHA – the employment development agency, is already developing a bold vision to evolve from a public marketplace of services to a ‘platform of platforms’ ecosystem. Integrated services such as career planning, lifelong learning and coaching, job-matching and skills building sit on an integrated platform co-created and co-produced by a range of service providers.

Around the globe the human service agencies are going to see similarly profound transformations as artificial intelligence and automation eliminate today’s time-consuming and repetitive tasks. Intelligently automated business processes will enable citizens to get the services they need, when they need them, freeing agency staff to focus on ‘high-touch’ interventions and activities.

Human services have a key role to play as connector, as data and service orchestrator, as infrastructure provider, and enabling other stakeholders in the ecosystem. The destination? Government as a platform of platforms. And as an innovation leader.

In my next blogs, I’ll look at the capabilities that will become critical for agencies in the eras of enablement and empowerment.

In the meantime, please take a look our new POV SlideShare on how Human Services organisations need to move from the era of support to the era of empowerment.

See this post on LinkedIn: How human services are moving from the era of support to the era of empowerment.

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