Voices from Accenture Public Service


Many making a career in human services today will be involved in a once-in-a-generation organisational transformation. They can rethink and reinvent how human services organisations operate. They will need far more ingenuity than their predecessors and will witness great leaps forward in efficiency and effectiveness.

At the heart of the opportunity are several emerging technologies—cloud, automation, biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), and more. But underpinning these is an approach to technology development and deployment that delivers considerable benefits on its own, while also being a critical enabler of wider digital transformation.

One of the transformational approaches agencies can use is human services as a platform (HSaaP). HSaaP is about orchestrating and facilitating service design and delivery to improve outcomes for people. It allows for greater integration, coordination and collaboration of service delivery within an ecosystem of public and private partners, across a standardised framework of application programming interfaces (APIs). The common digital and data foundations of HSaaP allow agencies to fully harness technological advances and the power of information from within and outside the organisation.

The HSaaP approach is, therefore, an essential target for any human services agency. But how do agencies speed up their evolution?

In a series of posts, I will discuss three critical factors in the successful use of HSaaP: open innovation, service convergence and digital inclusion. Here, we look at open innovation and collaboration.

What is open innovation?

This first HSaaP success factor is all about capabilities and developing an ecosystem mindset. It’s about agencies gaining access to diverse skills, fresh ideas, and new technologies by forming partnerships with a variety of stakeholders. These are all crucial to developing both the HSaaP model and the service innovations it supports.

The key to open innovation is data. A modernised approach to information management is crucial to enabling open innovation and collaboration. Greater data quality and access incentivises new digital innovators to get involved, and more open data can give private companies and developers the power to create new services for jobseekers and social services beneficiaries, with a clearly articulated value proposition and business case for each stakeholder.

The technology that enables this is the easy bit—it encompasses open APIs, cloud-based platforms and AI. More challenging is the creation of new rules of engagement and partnering approaches in areas where there is no precedent. This should include not only the private sector and other public service agencies, but also citizens, who can contribute via crowd-sourcing techniques and social networks. Including citizens, especially within service design, can lead to higher-quality, more relevant, more user-centric services.

In France, for example, an open portal for applications and data, “L’Emploi Store,” now has around 300 offerings from 180 partners in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Meanwhile, Pôle Emploi, the French public employment service, has set up an internal innovation centre called “Le Lab.” Le Lab is designed to support co-creation activities through collaborative events and hackathons and has been popular with jobseekers, employers, counsellors and start-ups.

How can agencies improve their open innovation and collaboration?

  • Develop a digital service marketplace. Create a digital market platform, designed around a human-centric and life-stage framework, that brings in new partners (private companies, non-governmental organisations, municipalities and start-ups) to create insight-driven and innovative services.
  • Launch a digital innovation hub. Set up an innovation management capability (either in-house or as a hybrid structure) to support trend and technology awareness, ecosystem management, hackathons, labs, incubators and accelerators.
  • Fast-track open data and APIs. Accelerate open-data initiatives, starting with the human service ecosystem (education, employment, human services and health), build more-granular customer intelligence, and develop an API framework.
  • Orchestrate the platform. Constantly screen for new partners and new areas of innovation, fostering an open network for innovation and collaboration. Ensure that every person has access to new services and is treated fairly.

The world is far more open and collaborative than it was 20 years ago. Human services agencies are too, but much more needs to be done to foster open innovation and collaboration.

Can human services as a platform approach improve your agency’s ability to deliver services and improve outcomes? To find out more, visit us at www.accenture.com/empowerment to read more of our perspectives. And stay tuned for my next blog, where I will look at service convergence.

See this post on LinkedIn: The platform revolution in human services.

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