Future-Proofing Citizen Services: Technology Strategies for the Public Sector

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Innovation is a driving force behind new approaches, often occurring at the point of adoption rather than technology development. As public sector organisations increasingly focus on improving citizen services through technology, it is important to adopt a strategic approach that considers innovation as a complex journey of systemic and cultural transformation. This strategic approach should guide the integration of technology into citizen services.

Here is a comprehensive look at what public sector organisations should consider when integrating technology into citizen services.

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Download ‘Future-Proofing Citizen Services: Technology Strategies for the Public Sector‘ as a PDF

1. Immediate View: Foundational Technologies

The immediate view focuses on deploying technologies that are widely adopted and essential for current digital service provision. These foundational technologies serve as the backbone for enhancing citizen services.

Foundational Technologies

Web 2.0. Establishing a solid online presence is usually the first step, as it is the broadest channel for reaching customers. Web 2.0 refers to the current state of the internet, encompassing dynamic content and interactive websites.

Mobile Applications. Given that mobile usage has surpassed desktop, a mobile-responsive platform or a dedicated mobile app is crucial. Mobile apps provide a more specialised and immersive user experience by utilising device-specific features like GPS, document scanning, and push notifications.

2. Second-Generation Enablers: Emerging Technologies

As organisations establish foundational technologies, they should look towards second-generation enablers. Although less mature, these technologies offer emerging digital opportunities, and can significantly enhance service differentiation. 

Emerging Technologies

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems improve the efficiency and effectiveness of digital services by routing callers to self-service options and providing relevant information without human intervention. These systems operate outside typical government agency working hours, ensuring continuous accessibility. Additionally, IVRs generate valuable data for future Voice of the Customer programs, improving overall service quality and responsiveness.

Digital Wallets facilitate transactions by expediting fund transfers and enhancing transparency through meticulous transaction records. They streamline administrative tasks, simplify transactions, and encourage service usage and adoption. 

AI-driven Virtual Agents or chatbots revolutionise customer interactions by providing 24/7 support. They offer prompt, efficient, and personalised services, enhancing customer satisfaction and trust. In resource-limited public sectors, virtual agents are cost-effective, optimising resource allocation and meeting growing service demands. Specialised virtual agents for specific sectors can further differentiate service providers.

3. Futuristic View: Ambitious Innovations

The futuristic view focuses on forward-looking technologies that address long-term roadblocks and offer transformative potential. These technologies are currently speculative but hold the promise of significantly reshaping the market.

Innovations

Subscription Management models enable public sector information services to be accessed in highly personalised ways, thereby enhancing citizen engagement. This model supports regulatory oversight by providing common data insights and improves the management of services, ultimately benefiting the public by ensuring more responsive and tailored information delivery.

AI concierge leverages advanced technologies like Natural Language Processing, Computer Vision, and Speech Technologies to provide personalised and proactive customer service. They redefine customer management, ensuring a seamless and tailored experience.

Immersive reality technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) create captivating customer experiences by allowing interactions in virtual environments. These technologies establish a shared virtual environment, helping customers to engage with businesses and each other in new and immersive ways. As an emerging customer management tool, immersive reality can transform the dynamics of customer-business relationships, adding substantial value to the service experience.

The Future of Industries
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Anticipating Tech Advances and Disruptions​: Strategic Guidance for Technology Leaders

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2024 will be another crucial year for tech leaders – through the continuing economic uncertainties, they will have to embrace transformative technologies and keep an eye on market disruptors such as infrastructure providers and AI startups. Ecosystm analysts outline the key considerations for leaders shaping their organisations’ tech landscape in 2024.​

Navigating Market Dynamics

Market Trends that will impact organisations' tech investments and roadmap in 2024 - Sash Mukherjee

Continuing Economic Uncertainties​. Organisations will focus on ongoing projects and consider expanding initiatives in the latter part of the year.​

Popularity of Generative AI​. This will be the time to go beyond the novelty factor and assess practical business outcomes, allied costs, and change management.​

Infrastructure Market Disruption​. Keeping an eye out for advancements and disruptions in the market (likely to originate from the semiconductor sector)​ will define vendor conversations.

Need for New Tech Skills​. Generative AI will influence multiple tech roles, including AIOps and IT Architecture. Retaining talent will depend on upskilling and reskilling. ​

Increased Focus on Governance​. Tech vendors are guide tech leaders on how to implement safeguards for data usage, sharing, and cybersecurity.​

5 Key Considerations for Tech Leaders​

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#1 Accelerate and Adapt: Streamline IT with a DevOps Culture 

Over the next 12-18 months, advancements in AI, machine learning, automation, and cloud-native technologies will be vital in leveraging scalability and efficiency. Modernisation is imperative to boost responsiveness, efficiency, and competitiveness in today’s dynamic business landscape.​

The continued pace of disruption demands that organisations modernise their applications portfolios with agility and purpose. Legacy systems constrained by technical debt drag down velocity, impairing the ability to deliver new innovative offerings and experiences customers have grown to expect. ​

Prioritising modernisation initiatives that align with key value drivers is critical. Technology leaders should empower development teams to move beyond outdated constraints and swiftly deploy enhanced applications, microservices, and platforms. ​

Accelerate and Adapt: Streamline IT with a DevOps Culture - Clay Miller

#2 Empowering Tomorrow: Spring Clean Your Tech Legacy for New Leaders

Modernising legacy systems is a strategic and inter-generational shift that goes beyond simple technical upgrades. It requires transformation through the process of decomposing and replatforming systems – developed by previous generations – into contemporary services and signifies a fundamental realignment of your business with the evolving digital landscape of the 21st century.​

The essence of this modernisation effort is multifaceted. It not only facilitates the integration of advanced technologies but also significantly enhances business agility and drives innovation. It is an approach that prepares your organisation for impending skill gaps, particularly as the older workforce begins to retire over the next decade. Additionally, it provides a valuable opportunity to thoroughly document, reevaluate, and improve business processes. This ensures that operations are not only efficient but also aligned with current market demands, contemporary regulatory standards, and the changing expectations of customers.​

Empowering Tomorrow: Spring Clean Your Tech Legacy for New Leaders - Peter Carr

#3 Employee Retention: Consider the Strategic Role of Skills Acquisition

The agile, resilient organisation needs to be able to respond at pace to any threat or opportunity it faces. Some of this ability to respond will be related to technology platforms and architectures, but it will be the skills of employees that will dictate the pace of reform. While employee attrition rates will continue to decline in 2024 – but it will be driven by skills acquisition, not location of work.  ​

Organisations who offer ongoing staff training – recognising that their business needs new skills to become a 21st century organisation – are the ones who will see increasing rates of employee retention and happier employees. They will also be the ones who offer better customer experiences, driven by motivated employees who are committed to their personal success, knowing that the organisation values their performance and achievements. ​

Employee Retention: Consider the Strategic Role of Skills Acquisition - Tim Sheedy

#4 Next-Gen IT Operations: Explore Gen AI for Incident Avoidance and Predictive Analysis

The integration of Generative AI in IT Operations signifies a transformative shift from the automation of basic tasks, to advanced functions like incident avoidance and predictive analysis. Initially automating routine tasks, Generative AI has evolved to proactively avoiding incidents by analysing historical data and current metrics. This shift from proactive to reactive management will be crucial for maintaining uninterrupted business operations and enhancing application reliability. ​

Predictive analysis provides insight into system performance and user interaction patterns, empowering IT teams to optimise applications pre-emptively, enhancing efficiency and user experience. This also helps organisations meet sustainability goals through accurate capacity planning and resource allocation, also ensuring effective scaling of business applications to meet demands. ​

Next-Gen IT Operations: Explore Gen AI for Incident Avoidance and Predictive Analysis - Richard Wilkins

#5 Expanding Possibilities: Incorporate AI Startups into Your Portfolio

While many of the AI startups have been around for over five years, this will be the year they come into your consciousness and emerge as legitimate solutions providers to your organisation. And it comes at a difficult time for you! ​

Most tech leaders are looking to reduce technical debt – looking to consolidate their suppliers and simplify their tech architecture. Considering AI startups will mean a shift back to more rather than fewer tech suppliers; a different sourcing strategy; more focus on integration and ongoing management of the solutions; and a more complex tech architecture. ​

To meet business requirements will mean that business cases will need to be watertight – often the value will need to be delivered before a contract has been signed. ​

Expanding Possibilities: Incorporate AI Startups into Your Portfolio - Tim Sheedy
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Building a Successful Fintech Business​

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Fintechs have carved out a niche both in their customer-centric approach and in crafting solutions for underserved communities without access to traditional financial services. Irrespective of their objectives, there is an immense reliance on innovation for lower-cost, personalised, and more convenient services.​

However, a staggering 75% of venture-backed fintech startups fail to scale and grow – and this applies to fintechs as well. 

Here are the 5 areas that fintechs need to focus on to succeed in a competitive market.​

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BHP’s Dual Cloud Digital Transformation Strategy

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BHP – the multinational mining giant – has signed agreements with AWS and Microsoft Azure as their long-term cloud providers to support their digital transformation journey. This move is expected to accelerate BHP’s cloud journey, helping them deploy and scale their digital operations to the workforce quickly while reducing the need for on-premises infrastructure.  

Ecosystm research has consistently shown that many large organisations are using the learnings from how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their business to re-evaluate their Digital Transformation strategy – leveraging next generation cloud, machine learning and data analytics capabilities.

BHP’s Dual Cloud Strategy

BHP is set to use AWS’s analytics, machine learning, storage and compute platform to deploy digital services and improve operational performance. They will also launch an AWS Cloud Academy Program to train and upskill their employees on AWS cloud skills –  joining other Australian companies supporting their digital workforce by forming cloud guilds such as National Australia Bank, Telstra and Kmart Group.

Meanwhile, BHP will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to host their global applications portfolio including SAP S/4 HANA environment. This is expected to enable BHP to reduce their reliance on regional data centres and leverage Microsoft’s cloud environment, licenses and SAP applications. The deal extends their existing relationship with Microsoft where BHP is using  Office 365, Dynamics 365 and HoloLens 2 platforms to support their productivity and remote operations.

Ecosystm principal Advisor, Alan Hesketh says, “This dual sourcing is likely to achieve cost benefits for BHP from a competitive negotiation stand-point, and positions BHP well to negotiate further improvements in the future. With their scale, BHP has negotiating power that most cloud service customers cannot achieve – although an effective competitive process is likely to offer tech buyers some improvements in pricing.”

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Can this Strategy Work for You?

Hesketh thinks that the split between Microsoft for Operations and AWS for Analytics will provide some interesting challenges for BHP. “It is likely that high volumes of data will need to be moved between the two platforms, particularly from Operations to Analytics and AI. The trend is to run time-critical analytics directly from the operational systems using the power of in-memory databases and the scalable cloud platform.”

“As BHP states, using the cloud reduces the need to put hardware on-premises, and allows the faster deployment of digital innovations from these cloud platforms. While achieving technical and cost improvements in their Operations and Analytics domains, it may compromise the user experience (UX). The UX delivered by the two clouds is quite different – so delivering an integrated experience is likely to require an additional layer that is capable of delivering a consistent UX. BHP already has a strong network infrastructure in place, so they are likely to achieve this within their existing platforms. If there is a need to build this UX layer, it is likely to reduce the speed of deployment that BHP is targeting with the dual cloud procurement approach.”

Many businesses that have previously preferred a single cloud vendor will find that they will increasingly evaluate multiple cloud environments, in the future. The adoption of modern development environments and architectures such as containers, microservices, open-source, and DevOps will help them run their applications and processes on the most suitable cloud option.

While this strategy may well work for BHP, Hesketh adds, “Tech buyers considering a hybrid approach to cloud deployment need to have robust enterprise and technology architectures in place to make sure the users get the experience they need to support their roles.”

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Adding a Second Screen Improves Productivity for Samsung DeX Users

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In March I published an analysis of Samsung DeX – which is a desktop environment which many businesses could benefit from deploying to specific teams, roles or employees. During my research, I found that one of the shortcomings is the lack of native support for dual screens. I know that many information workers in particular use dual-screen setups – and going back to a single screen feels highly unproductive!

Knowing this, a contact at Samsung pointed me to a company that has developed a dual-screen capability for a virtual desktop environment running on DeX – so I jumped at the opportunity to trial the environment in my own dual screen setup.

The product is called NetConnect – and is sold by VOIP. It is actually a Branch Of One style solution, which allows employees to access enterprise resources on any device. But one of its unique features is the ability to run a dual screen virtual desktop environment.

NetConnect’s Dual Screen Capabilities – An Analysis

DeX users that run the NetConnect app can extend the desktop to a second, internet connected monitor or screen. The key point here is “internet connected” – the screen is deployed across the internet – not across cables from the phone. This means any tablet, laptop or connected screen can be used as the second screen for the Windows virtual desktop running through NetConnect. In my particular demo environment, the software (both NetConnect and the Windows server) was running in a data centre in Singapore – but the company (VOIP) sells the solution to organisations to run in their own data centre environment.

The overall experience is seamless. The fact that one screen is running on a server in Singapore and being sent across the internet to my Samsung phone, and the other screen is running in Singapore and being sent across the internet to a completely different device is remarkable. The mouse moves across screens as if the desktop is running locally. While my demo environment was limited to web and a few desktop applications, I often found myself astonished that this entire environment was being driven by a smartphone (and a lot of clever technology behind the scenes!). Suddenly the limitations of only having a single screen for DeX disappeared – I now could run one application on my first screen and another on my second screen – and continue working, without the need to endlessly alt-tab between applications and screens.

This is a picture of my dual screen setup, running a virtual desktop across two screens using NetConnect on a Samsung phone running DeX (the photo was taken with the phone that was running DeX!). The phone is connected wirelessly to the left monitor and the right monitor is actually a browser tab in full screen with the content driven from a NetConnect environment in Singapore.

There are some limitations – video streaming is not very smooth, and connected devices (cameras etc. for Zoom or Teams calls) are not recognised. These features are on the roadmap, but not available today. But the NetConnect solution really does open DeX up to a whole new community of users. Some of the VOIP employees I met at their office don’t have a laptop on their desk or a desktop underneath it – they are running their entire work environment from their Samsung phone!

And being a Branch of One solution, NetConnect also brings with it inherent security benefits – of  not ever taking company data out of the data centre, reducing threats from viruses and malware that would normally run on the end-user computing device and others. It also improves the manageability of the desktop environment and makes it simple to deploy to users. Branch of One is about bringing all of the inherent benefits and capabilities that an office or branch would have and enabling a single user to get this power and security.

NetConnect is more than a dual screen solution – so working out which comes first is the interesting challenge. If your business is looking to run a solution like NetConnect, it is worth your while examining the opportunity to use DeX to extend full, dual screen desktop solutions to your employees. And if you are a business running DeX, NetConnect could open opportunities to extend DeX to more employees, roles or teams than originally planned.


Checkout Tim’s previous insight where he provides a detailed analysis on whether Samsung DeX is suitable for your employees. He bases his insights from using Samsung DeX as his primary desktop environment over the past 4 weeks.

Can Samsung DeX Empower your Employees
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