Blog: Supporting Efficiency in Government with Emerging Technologies

Our Expertise

By Manuel Tomas Estarlich

By Manuel Tomas Estarlich

Cloud & Productivity Solutions Architect

Supporting Efficiency in Government with Emerging Technologies

The Current State of Digital Government 

The public sector is taking advantage of technologies that have delivered improvements in other industries in order to achieve a higher performance and an exceptional culture.  However, the sector faces its own series of unique challenges from regulations, which can add complications to Government making simple improvements.  The complexity alone of securing citizens’ information from within the vast volume of government agencies and organisational silos between departments is a challenge in itself, which can only be achieved with sophisticated technology and business innovation. 

Governments are making great progress in their transition to the digital world. According to the Public Service ICT Strategy published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2015, “the new strategy would deliver better outcomes and efficiency through innovation and excellence in ICT“ such as; 

* The Public Service will be more agile and deliver more user centric and innovative services for citizens and businesses. 

* Innovative use of ICT in the Public Service will deliver better value for taxpayers by creating efficiencies through integration, consolidation and sharing of common infrastructure, systems and resources. 

* Adoption and facilitation of digital technologies will increase productivity, improve the relationship between citizens, businesses and government and will deliver social and economic benefits for Ireland. 

* Integrated services and increased data sharing will drive significant efficiencies; will facilitate insight driven decision making; will increase openness and transparency between Government and the public; and will provide a much higher user experience and quality of service for citizens, businesses and public servants. 

* Improved ICT governance will ensure alignment, reduce risk and support unification as envisaged under the Public Service Reform Plan and Civil Service Renewal Plan. 

* The future needs for ICT skills will be met through professionalisation of ICT streams, targeted recruitment and improved mobility and succession planning across all Public Bodies.” 

 

However, four years after the strategy was introduced, some of the greatest challenges still lie ahead for Government.  While much progress has been made to enable citizens to access many government digital channels, the true potential of digital government stands unexploited today versus the plans outlined in the strategy in 2015, such as; 

* Many end-to-end digital services are still not available. 

* Many of the existing digital services are still not optimised for mobile devices. 

*  Most departments are still struggling to comply with GDPR legislation. 

* Customer Service still relies totally or partially on call centres which are not facilitated by an always-on service.  We need to meet the demands of current day customer/citizen expectations for a 24-7-365 service. 

* The functionality and user experiences of government online services are usually poor compared to commercial organisations who have set the expectation to customers, of a user friendly, efficient & functional platform. 

 

The Need to Modernise 

In today’s digital era, keeping up with shifting consumer expectations and providing them with the low-friction and straightforward experiences they crave is a massive challenge that most public and private organisations face. Often, the problem lies in the fact that due to platform constraints, many companies are slow or even incapable, of deploying the digital technologies that consumers already expect and have adopted in their day-to-day lives.  

Many citizen transactions are still supported by old systems and platforms that lack the flexibility, scalability, extendibility and interoperability to deliver the digital channels needed for 24/7 citizen access as well as ensuring that customer interactions are not only more efficient, but also have a strong focus on delivering exceptional experiences. 

Therefore, in order to meet the increasing demands and expectations of more experienced digital users, Public Service departments need to go beyond digitising processes and services and leverage the power of digital technologies and data to improve efficiency and transform their business models 

OpenSky specialise in enabling Government to get the benefits of a true digital transformation – providing efficiencies by lowering operational costs and improving quality of service, resulting in more satisfied citizens. 

 

Platform Modernisation 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 can digitally transform the public sector by eliminating reliance on legacy systems, databases and paper-based services.  It provides the platform and tools that equip organisations in deploying seamless, end-to-end, multi-device, multi-channel digital case management systems – that allows users to transact their business while online, without having to resort to printing forms or calling a service centre.  

 

The key advantages of Microsoft Dynamics 365 are its; scalability, extendibility, flexibility, maintainability and interoperability as well as its seamless integration with other applications and services on the Microsoft Cloud (including SharePoint, Yammer, OneDrive, Skype for Business, Microsoft Flow amongst others).  

 

Some of the key benefits that Microsoft Dynamics 365 can bring to the public sector are; 

  1. Improved process efficiency – digitising and streamlining in person and/or paper-based processes, making services more available and convenient for citizens and cutting down the administrative overhead for government agencies. 
  2. Increased productivity – automating back-office operations, reducing bottlenecks, ensuring processes are always followed and reducing end-user training needs. PowerApps and Microsoft Flow can also be used to extend process automation with no-code solutions. 
  3. Improved reporting and analytics – agencies can interrogate data with highly flexible, customisable reporting and turn data into insights. Dynamics 365 Artificial Intelligence for Customer Service can help agencies to optimize their operations and create better customer service experiences. 
  4. Improved flexibility and maintainability – Dynamics 365 provides tools to empower organisations to configure/customisthe way they do business without the need of a developer and eliminates potential impact of customisations on platform upgrades. 
  5. Improved interoperability  Microsoft Flow and Logic Apps can be used to build no-code integrations with other internal and external systems and the Common Data Service can be leveraged for integrating Dynamics 365 with other business apps seamlessly. 

 

My colleague Marius Stoica wrote a great article which provides insight on how OpenSky minimises the business impact of the upgrading process when providing scalable, sustainable and future-proofed upgrades as well as replacements of obsolete case management systems – for many Government & Large Private Enterprises. 

Public Service departments need to go beyond digitising processes and services and leverage the power of digital technologies and data to improve efficiency and transform their business models.

Automating information classification and regulatory compliance 

Traditionally, implementing a successful enterprise search has always been a challenge. Search relies on classification and more so on consistent classification and relying on a manual classification process managed by end users, has never worked and it never will.  

In today’s digital world, consuming information has crossed application and service boundaries to the extent that it has an impact on security, enterprise content management, migration, text analytics, collaboration, compliance and information governance. Most agencies are still unprepared to address data protection, security breaches and data leaks as well as complying with the requirements of GDPR. And most, focus primarily on perimeter security even though a high percentage of data breaches are caused by internal stakeholders. 

In order to increase productivity and decision making while reducing costs and so importantly, ensuring compliance is maintained across the Public Sector, have all content (structured, semi-structured and unstructured) auto-classified and available in a single search index is paramount. 

By investing in a platform that; 

* Automatically generates metadata and makes it available to search engines, enterprise content management systems and line of business applications 

* Leverages Intelligent Metadata Enabled Solutions for Data Privacy, Protection of Confidential Information and eDiscovery 

The public sector would be empowered to; 

* Eliminate end user tagging, reducing errors, rework, and time 

* Create a virtual centralisation through the ability to link disparate on-premises and off-premises content repositories, improving decision making via the retrieval of all relevant information in a single interface 

* Enable concept-based searching for information 

* Ensure all privacy data vulnerabilities are identified across diverse repositories such as scanned documents and e-mails  

* Notify data exposures in real time  

* Automatically protect content that contains a potential data breach 

* Enable quick implementation to address regulatory changes while avoiding fines and audits 

* Minimise end user training 

 

Preparing for 2020 and Beyond 

Using automation to bring efficiency into the digital age  

While Process automation platforms have been around since the beginning of this century, there has been a more recent increase in general adoption across industries with the emergence of Robotic Process Automation. But what exactly is Robotic Process Automation and how can it be used to increase efficiency? 

 “Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the technology that allows anyone today to configure computer software, or a “robot” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process. RPA robots utilise the user interface to capture data and manipulate applications just like humans do. They interpret, trigger responses and communicate with other systems in order to perform on a vast variety of repetitive tasks. Only substantially better: an RPA software robot never sleeps, makes zero mistakes and costs a lot less than an employee.”  UiPath 

A great example of how RPA can be used to increase efficiency can be found in customer contact centres. 

Customer contact centres rely on a number of different systems and applications to process a high volume of repetitive tasks, which makes them an ideal match for RPA.  

Customer representatives need to understand a customer’s intent and carry out a series of actions that involve switching between systems and apps to find the required information and in turn, inform/direct the customer. This process has some disadvantages, including the long waiting times for the customer while the customer representative is busy dealing with data followed by the representative asking the customer for the same information more than once. The result, an increase in the duration of the interaction that wastes resources while creating customer dissatisfaction. 

By identifying frequent customer queries and analysing the tasks that the representative needs to perform in response, an RPA solution can be built to facilitate those actions by totally or partially automating those tasks.  For instance, for an interaction in which entering customer data in one or several systems is required, a robot can be built so when it is launched by a customer representative, IT performs most/all the actions in seconds. 

The above scenario could be taken a step further by the combination of a virtual agent (more on this in the next paragraph) and a robot, in which the virtual agent interacts with the customer to gather the necessary data and triggers the robot (sharing the collected data) to perform the actions, requiring only the intervention of a human when a negative sentiment in the conversation is detected or when dealing with a person is explicitly requested by the customer (escalation from virtual agent to customer service representative) or, when part of the process relies on the abilities than only humans possess. 

 

Using AI to drive citizen engagement  

A no-code, AI driven virtual agent can handle most citizen interactions to improve productivity, reduce workloads and create positive experiences by guiding citizens to the right solution every time. 

What are the Benefits of AI driven virtual agents? 

Connectivity – connect to different APIs, business applications and escalate seamlessly to human agents. Virtual agents can create great citizen experiences that evolves and learns with context. 

Deflection – free up human agents to work on high-value interactions by deflecting routine queries to a lower cost channel like chat. 

Dialog – provide quicker response timewith guided users interaction. 

Intelligence – handle complex service interactions quickly and effectively through rich conversations driven by AI which provides them the ability to understand voice, language, intent, sentiment, image. 

Interoperability – trigger back-end process automation workflows and automation robots 

“Chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion annually by 2022, up from $20 million in 2017” Juniper 

“Chatbots will power 85% of all customer service interactions by the year 2020” Gartner 

 

 

About OpenSky 

As Ireland’s Only Govtech digital transformation specialist, we deliver future-proofed citizen access and operational efficiency.  

Our Govtech business expertise has transformed over 50 public sector bodies in Ireland & the UK.  Within transport, waste, housing & health, our systems impact 2.5m people every day & manage 100m digital transactions every month in Government. 

Taking a Customer-Centric approach, we equip government teams with scalable and sustainable citizen platforms, shared digital business process information systems, legacy system modernisation and data management services. 

Our expertise & approach provides our clients with a path towards increased cost-efficiency, reduced risk of investment and superior citizen services. 

Working with the best technologies & MS Gold Certified Partners, we have 15 years of digitising processes, connecting citizens – building a safer nation. 

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About The Author

I am a dedicated I.T. professional with +16 years of experience within a varied range of organisations. I successfully combine excellent analysis abilities and exceptional technical skills with the proven ability of completing work activities to the highest standard whilst working within tight deadlines.

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Blog: OpenSky, Technology & the Citizen

Digital Regulation for Government

By Michael Cronin

By Michael Cronin

Managing Director

OpenSky, Technology & the Citizen

We in OpenSky have spent 15 years working hard to improve technology in Government. It is one of those things that makes it easier to get up at 6am on that Monday morning when it’s dark and wet (& that’s during the better part of the year here in our green & beautiful Ireland). While Tech is not the full story when it comes to change for a better and safer world, it has its place and we are proud to be driving force for some of that change in Ireland.  

Digital Citizen Tools 

Not so long ago, a friend said to me in passing, that since most, if not all Government services are now online, surely thjob is done since citizens can interact easily with the services they need. While yes, it’s great that many services are available online for citizens, there is quite a journey to travel before everything is available that’s needed.  Take a recent project of ours to enable a new digital way of interacting with Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLR) as part of their wider Civic Hub initiative. Yes, DLR already had online methods of interacting with their citizens, however this project not only delivers digital channels to the citizen, but it also completes the digital journey throughout the numerous divisions with the Local Authority, in effect joining the Citizen directly to the responsible department, not just to the initial contact desk.  

Then you add the digital tools needed for the Local Authority to efficiently deal with the issue raised by the Citizen, now the digital solution not only supports the Citizen request straight to the relevant department, but it also underpins the resolution of the request and subsequent update to the original requestor. The end result is that DLR are now able to provide a faster service to the Citizen using less resources, whilst providing 24×7 contact channels.  A major step up from filling in an online form which sits on someone’s computer screen awaiting action.  For more on this topic, you might like to read another of our Blogs about Minimising Business Impact when Upgrading your Case Management System”.

Collaboration in the Provision of Homeless Services 

It is true to say that often Technology is just an enabler for our better safer world. For example, in OpenSky, we provide the technology platform behind Ireland’s response to homelessness. While the technology platform we built, does not give out blankets on cold nights, does not serve food to those in need – as this is managed by the fabulous people working in Voluntary and Government agencies, the system we built allows up to 100 separate agencies, to jointly collaborate in the provision of services to those experiencing homelessness.  It underpins the availability of emergency accommodation to those in need and crucially, it allows analysis on how to continually improve our policies in response to homelessness.  

To me it is clearly our responsibility as Technology Innovators to ensure our AI systems reflect business and societal rules of conduct. 

Artificial Intelligence 

One of the other motivations to face the world on that dark and wet Monday morning, is that when working with Technology, everything is always changing (although sometimes it is a reason not to get up too!).  Taking a customer-centric approach to continuously bring value to those who matter most (our customers)we must constantly evaluate and innovate with the best technology options. Some of these are bringing change to how the Citizen experience is in the digital world.

The much talked about Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now, or is definitely becoming, the face of many businesses – which has brought a new level of responsibility for companies like us in OpenSky.

If our AI is deciding, for examplewho gets the allocation of a house on the social housing list and that intelligence is evolving, it’s now not necessarily the employee of the Government Agency who is taking the decision on the allocation of housing, but initially a programmer in OpenSky and additionally the ability for the system to self-learn.  

To me it is clearly our responsibility as Technology Innovators to ensure our AI systems reflect business and societal rules of conduct.  The intelligence programmed by our teams must be transparent in its decisions and open to interrogation and routinely audited. Our AI will work beside the staff in our Government customers, often as a trusted advisor and collaborator, assisting in routine tasks and decision making at all levels. This again brings service efficiencies to a higher level and allows for an exploitation of information to support decision making not previously possible, all positive for you or I as citizens.  

Our Goal: A Safer World 

The goal for our Technology, is to support that drive for a better and safer world, which enables all people to actively participate in governance and receive the services they need. The advent of AI driven solutionsbrings responsibilities for OpenSky – to set standards for what it means to realise a responsible digital eco-system that is transparent in the way it makes decisions, and which creates trust with our customers and citizens. 

Am I excited? Yes. 

Nervous? Maybe just a little…. 

 

About OpenSky 

OpenSky Data Systems for Digital Government That Works.

As Ireland’s Only Govtech digital transformation specialist, we deliver future-proofed citizen access and operational efficiency.  

Our Govtech business expertise has transformed over 50 public sector bodies in Ireland & the UK.  Within transport, waste, housing & health, our systems impact 2.5m people every day & manage 100m digital transactions every month in Government. 

Taking a Customer-Centric approach, we equip government teams with scalable and sustainable citizen platforms, shared digital business process information systems, legacy system modernisation and data management services. 

Our expertise & approach provides our clients with a path towards increased cost-efficiency, reduced risk of investment and superior citizen services. 

Working with the best technologies & MS Gold Certified Partners, we have 15 years of digitising processes, connecting citizens – building a safer nation. 

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About The Author

Michael is co-founder and Managing Director of OpenSky. He leads the organisation as it brings a new dawn of digitalisation to Government across its market sectors.

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Blog: Minimising Business Impact when Upgrading your Case Management System

Our Expertise

By Marius Stoica

By Marius Stoica

Account Sales Manager

Minimising business impact when upgrading your case management system

Will today’s technology work for tomorrow? 

Considering the rapid rate of innovation in the software field, using outdated technology in business comes with lot of pain and frustration – not to mention costs much higher than expectedSoftware upgrades are unavoidable in enterprise systems. Business reasons sometimes mandate upgrading current case management systems; responding to customer expectations and conforming with government regulations can require new functionality. Although there are couple of reasons not to change the software (possibly the biggest being inertia), many organisations can no longer afford to incur the high cost of downtime, system unavailability and security vulnerability and therefore, must perform such upgrades 

A major challenge for any organisation is how to perform the upgrade without system disruption and with minimum impact over the business. 

OpenSky have provided numerous scalable, sustainable and future-proofed upgrades and replacements of obsolete case management systems to both Government and Large Private Enterprises for 15 years.  Here are the key insights on driving operational efficiency & minimising the business impact when upgrading your system; 

 

1. Prepare an Upgrade Plan  

Do your homework. We know it sounds so obvious, but we cannot stress the importance of planning.  well-prepared upgrade plan, consisting of what exactly needs to be done, what steps are to be followed by the organisation and by the vendor and the expected completion date – will help you save lot of energy and money during the actual process.  Planning will ensure maximised ROI and minimal system disruption. 

 

2. Check Compatibility 

Most businesses are built around a set of processesThe software that enables this exchange may come from multiple vendors addressing different parts of the business. 

Software compatibility is a critical component of the upgrade process. Therefore, before upgrading, check the new version to ensure that it can operate with peer and dependent softwares within the organisation. 

 

3. Choose the Right Tools 

Choose the tools carefully which you plan to invest in – as these will form the foundation of the strategy of your organisation. Appropriate tools will help you achieve your organisation’s full potential and play a crucial role in the ability to achieve operational efficiency and increase ROI. 

 

4. Define Clear Expectations & Future Proofing 

When considering migrating to a modern case management system, it can be a challenge to anticipate and prioritisevery single software requirement. Even after all the current business requirements have been identified, you can’t ignore the certainty that the requirements will evolve as the business evolves.  Future proof planning is an essential part of planning for a new software system  only software designed to be extensible, customisable and tailor made, can support upcoming needs. 

Although there are a couple of reasons not to change the software (possibly the biggest being inertia), many organisations can no longer afford to incur the high cost of downtime, system unavailability and security vulnerability and therefore, must perform such upgrades.”

5. Perform a Pre and Post Upgrade Test 

Prior to upgrading your existing system, ensuring the environment is ready for the upgrade is important and once the upgrade process is complete, the new system should be tested to ensure the upgrade did not have any unintended consequences. Forming a QA strategy is pivotal to ensuring the correct testing processes are executed.

 

6. Ensure End-User Adoption 

The adoption of modernised platforms and technologieis another important component to determine project success. Even if the new technology is performing incomparably better to the old one, lack of considerations for user needs can lead to failure. A strong partnership should be created between the end user and the implementation team to reducrisk and increase the adoption processes.  Well-designed software can ease adoption risk through learning tools, templates, pre-built modules and flexible design. 

 

7. Make a Strong Business Case 

Despite the major benefits you will experience from upgrading your software system, the investment requireto implement the upgrade is significant and here lies the importance of presenting a comprehensive business case.  The business case should demonstratperformance improvements and positive impact across multiple areas of the organisation. Implementing workflow automations and modernising systems, enhances processes and reduces cost and effort while increasing business performance. 

 

8. Choose the Right Partner 

When considering investing in modernisation of your case management system, choosing the right partner with deep technical expertise, industry understanding, tools and methodologies – is essential for the success of the development project.  Furthermore, choosing a partner with business expertise is equally (if not more) importantto equip you with the multitude of scenarios and eventualities that lie ahead of such undertaking such an extensive project. 

According to several studies conducted by Microsoft49% of businesses state that new technology has been a key factor in allowing them to grow and modernise their legacy software systems, reducing their business operational costs by 13%.  Case management system upgrade, although challenging, has the potential to deliver great value to any organisation. 

An effective upgrade does not end with single migration project – continuous evolution should be the goal of any organisation in maintaining their system for process automation. It is essential to keep software systems up to date to enhance organisational performance and drive productivity. Up to date software ensures that critical and sensitive business information remains secure, decreasing risks of security breaches and reputation damage. 

 

 

About OpenSky

As Ireland’s Only Govtech digital transformation specialist, we deliver future-proofed citizen access and operational efficiency.  

Our Govtech business expertise has transformed over 50 public sector bodies in Ireland & the UK.  Within transport, waste, housing & health, our systems impact 2.5m people every day & manage 100m digital transactions every month in Government. 

Taking a Customer-Centric approach, we equip government teams with scalable and sustainable citizen platforms, shared digital business process information systems, legacy system modernisation and data management services. 

Our expertise & approach provides our clients with a path towards increased cost-efficiency, reduced risk of investment and superior citizen services. 

Working with the best technologies & MS Gold Certified Partners, we have 15 years of digitising processes, connecting citizens – building a safer nation. 

 

If you’re considering a system upgrade or replacement and have questions which need answering, we welcome the opportunity to speak with you to discuss how we might direct and help you find a match for your requirements. 

 

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About The Author

I am working in Opensky as a Sales Account Manager. I am responsible for senior stakeholder management within assigned accounts and developing exceptional relationships between Opensky and its clients in line with company strategy to provide sustainable business solutions.

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