Voices from Accenture Public Service


When I was in Paris last month, I attended the e-Prix de Paris – a Formula E auto race using only electric-powered cars. I was fascinated by the slick designs and power behind these cars, particularly the Gen2 – a Batmobile-esque, single driver car. But as I watched these machines accelerate in speed and glide around sharp twists and turns, I couldn’t help thinking that despite the cars’ technology, the performance was really in the hands of the drivers.

This is true in public service as well. It’s the civil servants that make the decisions to ensure the technology works. And yet, like the electric race car drivers, they are often the forgotten, unsung heroes. That’s why it’s critical to put your workforce at the heart of organisational change and empower them to succeed.

A balancing act

In an ocean of technology-driven discussions and strategies for change, civil servants have a small voice in the debate around public service transformation. Middle managers and team leaders, in particular, are torn between the need to continually drive change and the need to constantly motivate their staff to make changes.

It’s no longer a clash between business and IT. The two work together more than ever and are actually deeply dependent on each other. Fostering collaboration in a world of change necessitates a massive shift in power away from policy and the business to IT and data.

But first, here are the key challenges public service organisations must address to put civil servants front and centre of the debate:

  • Building a new trust paradigm between the new civil servant, the state, and the citizens they serve;
  • Attracting and retaining talent with a new emphasis on the value of public services (hint: it’s not just for job security); and
  • Recreating a culture where services are designed to be preventative because, for the first time in history, this strategy is possible and will drive significant value.

For civil servants to succeed in this new reality, it is important that they have the tools they need to satisfy rapidly changing requirements, which may include work-from-home options, mobile capabilities, collaboration platforms – and data.

The data disconnect

Data plays an important role in transforming the workforce of the future. But the skepticism surrounding the extent of its use is holding back progress.

Whilst many organisations are investing significantly in data to drive their service, they are not necessarily getting buy-in from individuals. In fact, civil servants are less clear about the value of data and new technologies than their peers in the private sector. A recent Accenture survey measuring the attitudes and readiness of workers and C-level executives regarding  the use of workforce data showed a 9% gap in the belief that data collected by new technologies would improve fairness in the workplace. Similarly, 51% of public sector employees think that collecting new sources of data on them and their work risks damaging trust.

This disparity suggests that civil servants fear the misuse of data because they are less connected to their organisation – more reason to bring their voice to the forefront of the digital debate. Just like the race car drivers, they are steering the wheel of transformation.

Forgotten no more

Hope is not lost. This new workplace – centered around SMAC technologies – will revolutionise the way people work on the move. The benefits of a digital transformation will become clearer as long as there is an understanding of how data and technology will be used to re-engage and support civil servants. Our research showed two-thirds of public organisations are planning to co-create the future of their workplace with their employees. Now that’s a great start.

Want to know more about preparing for the future of public service? Reach out to me on LinkedIn or send me an email and let’s discuss how to reconnect with your workforce. When the world moves, move ahead.


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