A culture of digital excellence

Effective delivery of digital public services is a growing priority for central governments in response to changing citizen needs. In light of global economic uncertainty and ongoing concerns about health challenges such as COVID-19, people need to know what services are available to them and be able to access them remotely. Basically, this depends on the effective use of data.

The European Commission’s 2022 Digital Economy and Society Index Report, which benchmarks the development of e-government, found that 81% of public services are now available online. However, only 6% of services are provided proactively through data reuse. More can be done to put the user at the center and provide intuitive, personalized services.

Even when data is used, this is not always clearly communicated to citizens. The same report found that less than two-thirds (58%) of EU government portals inform users about how their personal data is accessed and processed by public authorities. Given the sensitivity of this information, it is critical that governments ensure it remains private and transparent about how it is used.

To deliver digital public services at scale, with the user-centricity and transparency that citizens are used to, central governments can quickly follow technological and cultural changes. This means using the right infrastructure and solutions to deliver digital services effectively, while fostering a culture that ensures data literacy in government.

A culture of digital excellence

Budget constraints, staffing pressures and access to the right skills all limit governments’ ability to leverage data across teams and departments. But without accurate, data-driven insights, officials risk being left in the dark when making important decisions. This can hamper services, from public transport and infrastructure maintenance to passport processing and hospital waiting lists.

A cultural shift in how data and technology is perceived, understood and used is fundamental to delivering better results in the public sector. Data skills training can help managers and employees understand that data and analytics make a difference to their jobs. It can also foster collaboration that breaks down organizational silos. If implemented effectively, this will enable governments to find new efficiencies and improve public services.

Transformation through technology

Reaping the full benefits of data literacy also requires overcoming technical limitations. Governments struggle with aging local infrastructure and data silos that hinder their ability to deliver personalized digital services. Meanwhile, custom legacy applications can be difficult to update. This leads to additional costs and wasted resources, as well as potential vulnerability to cyber threats.

Moving to cloud infrastructure and out-of-the-box cloud applications can address these issues directly. Cloud-based platforms help public organizations increase operational efficiency while freeing up people and technology resources. This gives teams time to safely innovate with large amounts of data instead of focusing on maintaining the existing infrastructure. Meanwhile, an autonomous cloud infrastructure can improve system performance, enabling large-scale data utilization.

A service-oriented model is fundamental to this cloud offering. Gartner has predicted that over the next three years, 95% of new government IT investments will be made as service solutions. Such solutions are regularly updated, reducing technical debt and improving data security compared to more cumbersome, custom legacy applications.

The municipality of Rotterdam serves more than 670,000 citizens and 50,000 businesses, with responsibility for major public services including education, social care and transport. From an outdated, on-premise IT infrastructure that led to fragmented administrative processes and increased pressure on municipal staff, Rotterdam was forced to rethink how it manages its core business processes to better support its citizens. The second largest city in the Netherlands chose to migrate its critical business activities to the public cloud. With this, the municipality will achieve the following:

  • Optimizing and automating its finance and procurement processes to streamline operations;
  • create cross-departmental synergies to improve management insight, decision-making, controls and compliance, and;
  • optimize the delivery of public services.

A great example of how an integrated enterprise platform helps meet both current and future workforce needs while helping a government agency better serve its residents and businesses within city limits.

Security in the cloud

Central authorities and departments are responsible for a country’s most sensitive information, including data related to defense and public security. Governments need full control and transparency over who sees and uses this data. Not only citizens will hold them accountable if they fail, public authorities are also subject to the GDPR, which protects the privacy of personal data.

Cloud infrastructure built from the ground up with security in mind gives governments visibility into their data and peace of mind that it is stored and processed securely. Depending on the specific needs of government agencies, deployment models will often balance public, hybrid and private cloud. Private cloud environments are particularly suitable for mission-critical contexts due to the increased security.

Setting new standards

While most government services are available online, central governments are seeing opportunities to improve their digital credentials. Data is the key to unlocking its potential at a time when citizens need it so much. But to reap the benefits of analytics and personalization, public servants need the right knowledge and tools.

By empowering government officials to collaborate across silos and use data-driven insights to inform decision-making, governments can set new standards in data literacy. At the same time, investments in secure cloud infrastructure and solutions better protect sensitive data while transforming back office processes and service delivery. Ultimately, the result will be better outcomes for citizens. Let that be exactly what – more than ever – all our joint efforts, from central and local governments to its partners like Oracle, are (must be) focused on.

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