12/06/2023 Julien Huvé, a Partner at Mazars, outlines some of the emerging technologies that could be used to increase trust and improve efficiency in the public and social sector.
Leaders in the public and social sector know the challenge they face when it comes to emerging technologies. Our public and social sector C-suite research shows they plan to invest time, money and resources to transform their technology: digitising internal operations and improving efficiency are the top two areas of planned investment growth in the coming 12 months.
To achieve this ambition, leaders will need to understand how they can implement technology effectively to transform services. Here are some of the emerging technologies that could be used to increase trust and improve efficiency in the sector.
The first technology I think could have an impact in the public and social sector is artificial intelligence (AI). Right now, everybody is talking about ChatGPT and how it could revolutionise businesses. In public services, there are many opportunities to modernise or optimise processes and, as a result, offer better services.
There are some questions around the ethics of AI – something that is vital in the public and social sector. You need to make sure the public is aware of how you intend to use this kind of technology. It is also a question of avoiding any discrimination, guaranteeing the neutrality of the public service and ensuring control over how data is used. These are key commitments that public services need to guarantee.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) could be very transformational. That’s because, for the first time, there’s an opportunity to design a digital identity that is more secure.
The reason that’s so powerful for the public and social sector is that with blockchain technology, you can ensure that identity information is immutable, auditable, traceable and verifiable. As a result, it could transform processes and the way an organisation addresses a customer, citizen or client. That’s because they won't need to ask for a basic identity check – instead, users will have a digital identity that will enable them to access an increasing number of services online.
This new digital identity would become a single passport for users to access all online services, including in the new Web 3.0 environments that are sure to develop. It’s an opportunity for public services to create a seamless experience for users. Doing this will improve trust between public and social sector organisations and their customers, as the use of digital identities of this kind would enable you to instantly verify that you are talking to the right person.
One of the first use cases for the metaverse in the public and social sector could be education, where accessing immersive experiences could have a significant impact.
It won’t – and shouldn’t be – the solution for everything. If it doesn't add value, then it's just a gadget. It has to bring something new, something that enhances the user experience and offers more impact. For the public and social sector, the metaverse could be useful, but it would need to be monitored to ensure it provides a valuable, ethical experience that solves a problem.
The problem with automation in the public and social sector is that successful implementation will potentially mean less need for workers or different skills. For a lot of public sector organisations, that is a challenge.
You'll have to be sure that both your people and stakeholders are ready for automation and will accept it. This sort of consideration is less important in a private company where achieving efficiency is often top of mind. But performance assessment in the public and social sector is very different. Organisations have to provide a good service to their citizens and customers.
When you introduce something like automation, you challenge the role of human interaction in the quality of the service you provide. Some people will be comfortable with technology and others won't, and equal access to services for all users must remain an important objective for public services. I think that potentially explains why automation is seen as less important to leaders than it is to the respondents in the main C-suite survey.