Over the years, many government agencies have undergone significant digital growth. But while they were “doing digital” and leveraging digital technologies to enhance their capabilities, they still primarily relied on traditional operating models.

However, a new report from Deloitte says that to accomplish a truly digital transformation, government agencies must “be digital,” designing and implementing digital technologies to be embedded across the agency and in its DNA. Governments that have reached the “being digital” stage consistently adopt digital to achieve better mission outcomes.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the value of becoming a digital-first government organization. There were surges in demand for benefits that often couldn’t be accommodated, websites crashed, there were overburdened call centers, and telehealth and virtual learning were often slow to scale. The pandemic propelled government agencies into the next stage of digital transformation – “being digital.”

In a report issued June 3, Deloitte surveyed 800 government officials from eight different countries to assess the pandemic’s impact on the global digital transformation of government. Nearly three-fourths of respondents indicated that COVID-19 accelerated their government’s digital transformation. However, 80 percent of respondents believe that their organization’s digital efforts haven’t gone far enough.

“Being digital” requires a mindset shift by government agencies; the goal is not a fixed point but continued change. The report identified a broad array of assets and capabilities to accomplish this, and called these the seven digital pivots.

Data Mastery 

This pivot is about a seamless flow of structured and unstructured data, and making data and systems interoperable within and between agencies to enable front-line workers to understand customers and customize service delivery.

Sixty-seven percent of agencies surveyed reported a significant positive impact from their use of data.

Flexible and Secure Infrastructure

This pivot calls for deploying a technology infrastructure that balances security and privacy needs with flexible, scalable capabilities. And this entails embracing cloud infrastructure and a cloud-native environment; using agile and DevSecOps methodologies; and implementing a robust cybersecurity strategy, among other elements.

Sixty-seven percent of government executives reported an increase in financial commitment to digital transformation despite budget pressures brought about by the pandemic.

Digitally Savvy Open Talent Networks

This pivot allows agencies to tap into the right talent at the right time. This includes hiring digitally savvy employees, upskilling existing talent, using contingent labor, and even leveraging the power of the crowd through challenges and competitions.

Ecosystem Engagement

Ecosystem engagement also means avoiding “not built here” biases, where organizations will default to custom-building things that the industry has already solved. Governments can effectively work with external business partners, including research and development organizations, technology incubators, and start-ups, to gain access to resources such as technology or people to increase the organizations’ ability to improve and innovate.

Eighty-five percent of respondents say that engaging with external partners is positively impacting their agencies. More than 80 percent also indicated the same for the use of contractors.

Intelligent Workflows

This pivot calls for streamlining core processes and workflows, using automation tech such as robotic process automation and cognitive automation to perform repetitive tasks, and supporting staff with artificial intelligence-powered tools.

Eighty-three percent of government executives report that process automation is making a significant positive impact on their organization. It helps agencies gain efficiency and speed by eliminating redundant data entry, improving data quality, and reducing errors, they said.

Unified Customer Experience

This pivot delivers a seamless customer experience built around a 360-degree view of the customer shared company-wide so that customers experience coordinated digital and human interactions that are useful, enjoyable, and efficient in immersive, engaging environments.

Seventy-three percent of government executives say that enhancing the citizen experience has become a higher priority post-COVID-19, but few have achieved a unified end-to-end digital experience.

Innovation and New Business Models 

This pivot entails innovating the organization’s array of business models by adopting new business models to change constituents’ needs and improve service delivery.

In response to COVID-19, 72 percent of respondents say that creating new business models through digital transformation is a high priority.

Most of the government officials surveyed reported that these digital pivots positively impact their organization, and the report says that government agencies should take advantage of the current momentum and lessons learned over the past year and a half to push forward on the path to becoming a truly digital organization.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.