Embracing the Postdigital Era: How Government Organizations Can Adapt and Succeed?

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By Dean Lacheca, VP Analyst at Gartner Inc.

Digital government investments permeate all of the public sector, pushing CIOs to adapt to shifting citizen expectations, line of business priorities and mission objectives. Almost half of governments worldwide are at a point where digital technology is becoming the norm and has permeated all critical services and functions. In today’s world, digital concepts are everywhere, and are no longer a factor of differentiation when it comes to strategic ambitions, execution, or commitment to the quality of citizen services.

The shift to digital government has accelerated quickly and many are now moving into a “postdigital” era, where returns from continued investment into digital are beginning to diminish. To sustain further investments, government organizations will need to reach beyond improving administrative processes and data use.

To ascertain the success of in the postdigital era, government CIOs and other technology executives must demonstrate genuine empathy for their constituents and stakeholders to understand their needs and take effective actions. Furthermore, they must leverage insights and orchestrate a complex and changing ecosystem of actors, partners, intermediaries contributing toward achievement of shared outcomes.

Resetting ambitions

The journey towards postdigital government allows organizations to reset their ambitions and focus on their public purpose. Gartner predicts by 2026, over 75 per cent of governments will gauge digital transformation success by measuring the enduring mission impact.

Enduring mission outcomes will be achieved by embracing empathy with citizens and stakeholders, leveraging insights to both anticipate optimal engagement and effectively react to the unexpected, while working within an orchestrated ecosystem of traditional and non-traditional partners.

Cognitive empathy

Develop cognitive empathy capabilities in government organizations. This will build a more complete and accurate understanding of stakeholders as people.

Identify direct and indirect stakeholders and understand the journey they are going through during a particular transaction or engagement. This will help gauge how the emotion changes at different points, and what creates frustration, distrust, discomfort or engagement.

From there, take a need-driven approach to all stakeholders involved and address those needs as effectively as possible. This makes it possible to identify critical moments, optimize stakeholder engagement, and know when to be reactive or proactive.

A method that encapsulates this is human-centered design (HCD). This approach is used by government organizations in every sector and tier of government. It involves problem solving with empathy as a cornerstone, putting the end user at the heart of the solution.

Leveraging data insights

To pivot the experience towards the optimal outcome, postdigital government requires hyperpersonalised services that combine these empathy insights with real-time, actionable operational insights during the decision-making process. Gartner predicts over 60 per cent of government artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics investments will drive real-time operational decisions and outcomes by 2024.

Organizations are quickly adopting AI which has been offering new pathways to data insights. Governments are using AI to capture new data that was previously not available and unlock the value of existing data. To have a real impact, the new real-time data insights must be operationalized into the organization’s ways of working.

Orchestrating ecosystems

Governments have always operated in some form of an ecosystem, often orchestrated around the department or agency. However, digital ecosystems are changing the way society works and shifting the expectations of citizens. An ecosystem orchestrated around a shared problem, or outcome is more likely to innovate and deliver the enduring mission outcomes desired by all governments.

To orchestrate these ecosystems there must be a careful assessment of stakeholder value and incentive. For example, establish a shared platform that offers access to a subset of government data, enabling comprehensive engagement with the citizens involved, or shared facilities and resources.

Each of these new and enhanced capabilities require new supporting technologies that will need to be incorporated into organization’s technology roadmap going forward. Link these technology roadmaps to the mission outcomes focus of the postdigital era.

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