Kristen Sanders is regional vice president for industry go-to-market and SPARK Consulting programs for Salesforce’s Global Public Sector business.

The growth of digital platforms has provided individuals with the ability to essentially have the world at their fingertips through the touch of their keyboard or the recognition of their voice: hailing a ride with Lyft, scheduling a doctor’s appointment on ZocDoc, paying friends back through Venmo, having toilet paper delivered every month by Amazon, and finding answers to pressing questions on Google. These platforms have created a remarkable interconnectedness with most of the digital services and functions people experience every day. As more and more users flock to these platforms, companies gather more data that improves style and functionality, better anticipates needs, and creates more targeted and personalized experiences. This shift in consumer-focused application experiences is rapidly driving new expectations into the public sector.

Because applications used by the public sector touch so many aspects of people’s lives, the impact from engaging with older and disconnected systems can often include mass scale frustration. Constituents expect to access user-friendly platforms in every aspect of their life, putting pressure on governments to undergo significant transformation to keep up with business and consumer experience innovations in the private sector. In its white paper, “Government with the People: A New Formula for Creating Public Value” the World Economic Forum discusses these pressures as an opportunity for governments to reclaim their past roles as innovators. “Governments in the 1960s led the way in developing computer technology, digitizing their operations, and creating large-scale information systems … and were behind many of the innovations that underpin today’s digital society, from the internet, to GPS, to the iPhone.” The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for transformation in digital engagement even further as in-person services and the teams that power them go virtual. This puts the spotlight on the many roles governments play in the lives of their constituents and how important it is for them to accelerate digital transformation with the latest technologies that can scale to provide long-term benefits beyond this pandemic era. On the Public Sector Industry Summit Channel, we explore many solutions that can accelerate the delivery of public sector services through digital transformation and the impact that they can have. Among the many topics we discuss, these are four key areas where technology can transform government for its workers and citizens:


1. Constituent and customer experience

Paper-based processes are slow, allow for significant duplication and room for errors, and may involve more steps than necessary. In-person services can offer a premium feeling of engagement but are difficult to scale across every service capability. Introducing digital solutions that are responsive and easy to navigate is critical in providing accurate, timely, and trustworthy government services. Delivering experiences that feel personal, targeted, and customer-focused are critical to driving trust and satisfaction.

Reimagining service engagement, or the processes which support that engagement, through a customer-first lens can provide constituents with the same ease and simplicity they are accustomed to from private sector services. Not only will this enhance their overall experience, but it will build trust in knowing the government will deliver the services they need when they need them. 

Behind the scenes, these same solutions will aggregate data across programs, services or records, using capabilities like business analytics and machine learning to surface valuable insights to agency leaders, or enable employees to make personalized and real-time informed decisions in support of their customers. 

So, how does a public sector agency initiate its digital transformation and then scale it to meet the needs of its constituents? Learn how one government agency digitized licensing, permitting, and crisis communications to sustain a thriving community as my colleagues Casey Coleman and Gloria Chou chat with Mohammad Fasihi of Deloitte Consulting LLP and Spencer Bellamy of the City of Salt Lake in “How to Design Digital-First Experiences for Constituents.”


2. Collaboration

When it comes to collaboration, digital transformation is about more than just keeping team members connected — it’s about facilitating a partnership between organizations and their stakeholders that results in forward momentum and positive outcomes.

When implementing new digital solutions, it’s important to consider all potential channels of outreach where the customer may choose to engage with the organization. Programs that connect with customers across multiple and connected channels are able to deploy and evolve their services faster and with greater continuity of delivery. These channels help to establish and amplify communication lines through digital and physical touchpoints. The organization's functional teams can more easily meet constituents when and where needs, requests, or problems surface and identify the best path to resolution quickly and with limited burden. It also paves the way for increased participation by customer and employee stakeholders to identify the best service outcome together.

This type of collaboration-focused digital transformation is especially critical for public sector organizations who deliver programs such as those related to Child Welfare or other types of social services, as caseworkers see increased workloads. Empowering them with the tools to access critical event data in real time, increase collaboration with their case clients and the resources who support them, and deliver faster time-to-resolution can help drive much more positive outcomes for the child and their family. In “Transforming Health and Human Services for Better Outcomes & Wellbeing,” my colleagues Roderick Bremby and LaurieAnne Lassek meet with Kevin Jones, the CIO of Department of Child Services at the State of Indiana, to discuss how transformative digital innovations can be for public sector agencies and the families they serve.


3. Cybersecurity

According to Deloitte, the amount of data government stores far exceeds the private sector, and that data often resides on legacy systems more prone to intrusion. Migrating that data is a double-edged sword: organizations who adopt new digital technologies align more closely to their constituents and their partners, enable their employees with a more complete view of their programs, and innately improve the delivery of their mission services. But if not thoughtfully deployed, this approach can also make them more susceptible to attacks.

Protecting that data requires implementing proactive technologies that offer built in safeguards across application- and infrastructure-level security. Public Sector organizations must feel confident that the tools they use to build secure applications and the infrastructure level security that supports those applications, are being monitored and protected 24/7, a service integrated into the technology package itself.

Keeping systems secure is an ongoing challenge, but demonstrating a concerted effort to safeguard data has the added benefit of earning trust from constituents in knowing their information is secure. But what else can the public sector do to maintain its defense? Michael South, Americas Regional Leader for Public Sector Security and Compliance at Amazon Web Services, meets with my colleagues Matt Goodrich, Andrew Randall, and Jenny Beraducci to discuss combating threats with enhanced security measures as governments undergo digital transformation in “Beyond FedRAMP: New Considerations for IT Innovations and Compliance.”


4. Community trust and safety

Keeping people safe and maintaining their trust and confidence is always a top priority for public sector organizations. This couldn’t be more prominent than during a global pandemic. Responding with a sound plan of action and a strong approach to communicating with constituents is critical to success, especially as COVID-19 vaccine developments and trials continue all over the world. When viable, trusted vaccines are ready for distribution, the world will need to execute a massive and unprecedented vaccination campaign.

Responding to high demand requires flexible, scalable, and trustworthy solutions that can be deployed quickly. Digital agility is critical in order to successfully implement a cohesive distribution and follow-up strategy. Supporting vaccine candidates through a journey of communication and scheduling (innumerable appointments), data capture and vaccine administration, vaccine and outcome tracking and more, demands technology that can track each step along the way and allow government workers to follow up post-vaccine to monitor efficacy and safety.

What criteria should be considered when it comes to preparing a vaccine deployment plan? Join me and my colleague Adilson Jardim as we discuss digitally-powered pandemic preparation in “Get Ready for the Next Phase of Pandemic Response: Vaccine Management.”

Kicking off the next phase of your digital transformation can be a considerable task for any organization. That being said, our current global environment presents an immense opportunity for the public sector to reimagine the delivery of their mission and the digital infrastructure which supports it and to move more rapidly and collaboratively by developing new platforms that provide the most optimal long-term benefits to their internal and external stakeholders.

Visit the Public Sector Industry Summit Channel to get a closer look at how we’re accelerating digital transformation for government and public sector organizations.