Public sector organizations have to do a better job at managing their information if they really want to transform, says an industry expert.

The currency of the digital market is information, said Ian Owen, OpenText’s public sector industry specialist at its recent webinar. “I firmly believe that information is at the heart of digital transformation. Information can be instrumental to drive transformation, increase service and reduce costs

With an “unprecedented pace of change” due to developments like big data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, the world is truly experiencing an “information revolution,” said Owen. This creates opportunities for the public sector, but also adds to its existing challenges.

“The public sector has the age-old challenge of finite resources and infinite demands,” he said. It also has to deal with legacy systems, an aging population, duplication of effort among departments, and increasing regulations.

How can the public sector find ways to do more with less? It needs to harness its information using enterprise information management tools, said Owen. These systems create a “really powerful loop” from the moment of citizen engagement to the analysis that provides valuable insights, he said.

Reinventing the public sector from the outside in 

Too many public sector organizations continue to design service based on their own needs and not those of the citizens they serve, said Owen.

New technologies have resulted in a power shift from business to consumers. In the same way, citizens have higher expectations of public service delivery. “Putting citizens first is a key strategy component for every organization,” said Owen. “Thinking from the outside in will bring clear benefits.” There is also a growing need for collaboration to share information across boundaries, while maintaining security, he added.

To delivery citizen-centric services, public sector organizations must modernize legacy systems, provide centralized information access portals and proactive service offerings.  “Imagine if you could address issues even before the customer can discover them,” said Owen. What’s more, proactive service can reduce call centre volumes in the public sector by 30 per cent, he said.

Central information management systems provide a way for the public sector to provide better service and save costs, said Owen. For example, the County of Los Angeles saved $3.4 million per year by adopting an automated central system for personnel records. Previously, it had over 25 million pages of paper files in cabinets. In New Brunswick, the Department of Natural Resources implemented an OpenText information records management and governance solution to ensure compliance with regulations.  Now, its documents are safe, searchable and accessible, said Owen.

Is your user experience sensational?

Owen recommends that public sector organizations should ask themselves the following questions as they develop their digital strategies:

  • Are you taking an offensive, defensive or a wait-and-see approach with your digital transformation?
  • Are you disrupting or being disruptive?
  • Do you know what citizens are thinking and doing? How do you make sure your service meets their requirements?
  • How sensational is the customer experience?
  • Are you evolving faster than your users and the competition?

With the right information management solution and a focus on citizens, public sector organizations can achieve impressive results in terms of service improvement and cost savings, said Owen. “The public sector is rising to the challenge, but with no profit line to support change, it has to be more dynamic.”