Digital Transformation for Public Sector: An Introduction

Delivering the Benefits of Digital Transformation for Public Sector

By: Teresa Blackwell, Director, SAP Business ByDesign Practice, & Jay M. Winchester, Proposal Writer

A current hot topic in the IT world is the concept of digital transformation. This begs a fundamental question: What is digital transformation?

The Digital Transformation Definition
Typically, the digital transformation definition involves the fundamental changes resulting directly from the intelligent, across-the-board application of digital technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Application Program Interfaces (APIs). From the humanist perspective, digital transformation refers to the application of these technologies to every segment and aspect of society, resulting in new innovations and creative answers to societal problems. It’s a grand and sweeping vision. However, for our purposes, we are going to take a few steps down from that perspective and in a series of blog posts, look at Digital Transformation for the Public Sector.

From this narrowed perspective, the digital transformation definition becomes more focused. Instead of using new technologies to enhance and support the way Public Sector work has always been done, these technologies are applied in ways that transform how work is carried out, enabling innovation and creativity while increasing effectiveness and efficiency. When managed properly and carefully, the benefits of digital transformation are many. When mismanaged or handled carelessly, the benefits of digital transformation diminish and organizational problems increase.

Examples of the Benefits of Digital Transformation
In a certain sense, and at the base level of day-to-day activities, digital transformation involves freedom from the inbox, achieved through the use of powerful applications to manage workflows. Those routine and often mundane day-to-day tasks are transformed through the application of defined rules. These rules remove the requirement for personnel to make a series of decisions in order to complete a task, which often slows the pace of completion while adversely affecting the quality of the work. Once workflow rules are applied, employees are free think strategically about fulfilling their responsibilities. They are also empowered to undertake the in-depth analysis that leads to better decisions and better results.

For example, where is the value in having a manager approve every invoice for an item that is purchased daily? An application built around real-world, day-to-day workflows enables the establishment of workflow rules that then govern the approval process. This then removes the manager from that process, enabling him or her to be re-tasked with analyzing these transactions to ensure items are purchased at the best possible price. If that same application is also built on best practices, that manager can then determine the effectiveness of the processes. He can then recommend changes required to increase that effectiveness, thus achieving greater efficiencies in the invoice approval and purchasing processes. He also is saving the organization money.

A typical issue faced by many Public Sector entities involves the sheer volume of legacy applications in place to facilitate the work involved in foundational areas like Human Resources, Finance, Supply Chain and so on. This usually results from the implementation of an application to handle one key task. Initially, this works well- as long as the focus of the organization stays the same. But how often does an organization remain stationary? As the needs and requirements of the organization evolve, other applications and work-arounds- many developed by employees who may or may not still be in the organization- are implemented to help facilitate new tasks and responsibilities. The end result is a complex web of technologies that may or may not ‘talk’ to each other. This in turn results in minimal effectiveness and decreased efficiencies. In the process of digital transformation, a strategic decision involves replacing this gigantic stumbling block with a single, module-based ERP solution designed and developed specifically to empower the organization to meet its growing requirements list, as well as the demands of its customers. If this ERP solution is cloud-based, there are even more gains available to Public Sector entities, including the ‘holy grail’ of budgeters everywhere: decreased IT spending

The Journey to Enterprise Digital Transformation
These are just two examples of how digital transformation impacts an organization, one at the task level and the other at the organizational level. Inherent in this transformative strategy is the promise of dramatic impacts and sweeping change across all aspects of an organization. While it’s a tantalizing vision, it’s important to remember two key concepts: First, enterprise digital transformation is a journey, and like any journey, its success depends on planning that identifies and targets specific areas requiring change. This likely means involving digital transformation consulting to help you define a digital transformation framework. Second, a crucial element in the success of your journey to digitally transform the way in which your organization works depends on the quality of the technologies driving those changes. Adopting the right digital transformation architecture is key.

Over the course of this seven-part series, we’ll dive deeper into both these concepts. We’ll also examine other factors that might hinder or help your progress from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow. The promise inherent in the concept of digital transformation within Public Sector organizations is a powerful one that touches on every aspect of what you do, how you do it and- most importantly- why you do it. Digital Transformation also holds out the promise of another key benefit: Improving the digital customer experience.

Find out more about how SAP’s Business ByDesign delivers the benefits of digital transformation for your organization by getting in touch with us today.

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