The challenges of keeping up with a fast-changing digital world are hitting every sector, but none more so than the public sector. 

Enterprises know the onus is on them to modernize at the right pace. Their customers expect it, and if they fail to keep up, brands seem to be falling behind the curve. And let’s face it, that’s not a good place.

But in the public sector, there’s even more at stake in some ways.

At Mitel, we’re noticing that, whether we’re working with local councils, government departments, NHS Trusts, or educational institutions, public organisations need to do much more than apply a digital layer onto or into their existing services.  

Because their public service task is much bigger and broader, so are the challenges. The demands and expectations of transformation go way beyond augmenting face-to-face experiences with newer, shinier digital versions. 

Again and again, we find that public sector organisations are asking for more than a simple platform change from their modernization journey. They need a fundamental transformation of the citizen experience. And by extension of that, the employee experience.

To simplify things, we tend to identify and address three key challenges specific to the public sector. We find it helpful to guide our clients to consider this trinity of challenges – each with a unique context and set of enablers. 

Challenge 1: The Need to Digitize 

In simple terms, digital transformation is integrating digital technology into all areas of an organisation, fundamentally changing how it operates and delivers value to service users.

The public sector tends to get knocked for being behind compared to the private sector. But we think this is a little unfair. The digital transformation task can be much more challenging in the public sector. For example, there may be a higher bar such as the right or need to deliver universally to the citizen.

Often, critical services need to be universally delivered. This duty means you don’t have the luxury of picking your preferred customer base or preaching to the heartland. You can’t do what private businesses do – focus on getting a viable service up and running today – and then adjust or extend it over time.

You must ensure all citizens can access the right services at the correct times. You’re harshly judged on what you deliver, and when dealing with critical services like health provision, getting it right can be a matter of life and death.  

Regarding your digital journey, the change process and how you deliver your new services need to be rock solid. 

Challenge 2: Transforming the Citizen Experience

Then there’s the linked matter of enabling better experiences. Your citizens, also consumers, are spoilt for choice regarding digital services and how they engage with brands and organisations. And that lived experience transfers from the private sector to public services.

Today, they demand more straightforward, more reliable ways of staying in contact with a range of public sector agencies than ever before. And they expect better all-round service experiences.

Public sector organisations must find simple, secure, cost-effective ways to deliver critical services. As well as ensuring those services are always supported with reliable, end-to-end communications on any device and safe, back-end collaboration.

They need a way of adopting a more joined-up communication platform that won’t let them down – but offers them the flexibility to self-service wherever possible to improve service quality and efficiencies. And they need to integrate digital with offline needs – offering appropriate, direct support to population segments such as the elderly or those with disabilities who need assisted access.

Challenge 3: Delivering a New Employee Experience

Public sector employees can’t be left behind. Suppose we expect them to deliver more for citizens through new processes and channels. In that case, we need to support more flexibility and variation in the working environment – whether the staff is active in the field, powering call centres, staffing offices, working from home or moving flexibly from one set-up to the next.

The more you support your employees to deliver essential services – especially those in a citizen-facing role, the more you can expect citizen outcomes to improve. A fundamental link between citizen experience and employee satisfaction is recognised by almost 50% of all public sector organisations worldwide. 

So, there we have it – there is a real need for change. The following blog in this series looks at how unified communication can help. Stay tuned.

Steve Comerford

UC Solutions Consultant

With over 20 years of business communications experience, Steve has supported organisations of all sizes, spanning an array of industries globally. Through demystifying technology and focusing on delivering business outcomes, Steve continues to support customers and partners navigate through an ever-evolving cloud, UC, and CX market.

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