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Digital disruption is good for public sector — if organisations act quickly

Posted by  Mark Gibbison

The digital capabilities of public sector organisations are far behind the private sector, and this gap is taking its toll. Unit4’s Head of Public Sector, Mark Gibbison, looks at how today’s ERP platforms help them modernise their systems to enable digital transformation.

Public sector organisations are facing a worrying discrepancy between how the operational landscape is changing, and its ability to keep pace.

A global survey by Deloitte has found that while 76 percent of government organisations believe digital technologies are disrupting their domain, 69 percent feel their capabilities in this area lag behind the private sector – and more than half (55 percent) aren’t confident that they can respond to digital trends.

The impact of this experience gap is significant. By holding back from digital transformation and failing to embrace agile business applications, government organisations cannot implement the sophisticated, seamless working processes and people-centred systems that their corporate counterparts are already benefitting from. But it’s not too late for change.

Delivering efficiencies

According to Deloitte’s research, the main barriers to digital transformation in public sector are tactical. Many government bodies cite lack of overall strategy, challenges with organisational agility and a shortage of technical skills as their reasons for failing to embrace new operational technologies. Yet enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools can actually improve their capabilities in these areas, rather than act as an obstacle. 

For example, up to 95 percent of government organisations want to increase their efficiency, and ERP technology can deliver immediate gains in this area. Choosing a platform with a simple user interface will enable non-tech-savvy users to make changes, while clear reporting features enable quicker, more informed decision-making.

Moving to a system that automates everyday tasks and provides an agile, adaptable framework for collaboration will drastically reduce the time people spend on admin too, so staff can focus on more valuable tasks and services.

Increasing data insight

Another key objective for public services bodies is to become more data-driven. Up to 85 percent want access to valuable insights, and this is only practical if every person within an organisation is working from the same, centralised system.

By integrating the way every staff member and department works, institutions have complete transparency and visibility over all their operational data. This encourages a climate of collaboration and innovation, but more importantly, it enables colleagues to draw on information from anywhere in the organisation to make efficient and productive decisions.

Enabling change

The desire for digital transformation isn’t just being driven by internal goals, either. Up to 94 percent of public sector institutions want to create better experiences for their citizens, and ERP technology can be the enabler for this change.

We’ve already mentioned the benefits of data transparency for employees; its impact on external relations is significant, too. Clear systems for data analysis mean government organisations are accountable for every decision, improving the public’s trust that funds are being spent effectively.

More importantly, by using in-built reporting features, public service bodies can use their ERP platform to prove results and track progress towards targets – meaning more people are helped, change is achieved faster, and fewer opportunities to offer support are missed.

Confidence over cost concerns

Public sector institutions already recognise the disruption that digital technologies are having on the way organisations work, and there’s a clear alignment between their strategic goals and the transformational capabilities of ERP technology. So why isn’t there a more urgent call for change?

Tactics aside, one of the main barriers to adoption is cost. Insufficient funding and competing priorities mean many organisations put technology investment on the backburner – without realising the cost-saving potential that a little more confidence could yield.

Good ERP technology isn’t beyond the reach of most bodies, and the return on investment far outweighs the initial expenditure. The secret to success is partnering with the right tech partner to ensure any new platform delivers effective digital transformation.

Read more here, and register to our webinars: https://www.unit4.com/sectors/public-services/empowering-employees


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Mark Gibbison