Public Sector: Are You Cloud-Ready?
Digital Transformation by Cloud Ensures the Resilience of Government Service Delivery
The global pandemic has significantly accelerated digital transformation for many organizations. Some have taken time during this crisis to focus on improving their services. According to McKinsey, citizens are even more reliant on governmental services due to these circumstances. Pressure is on government service delivery to meet citizen expectations via digital means. In this digital era, many users are accustomed to and expect a connected, convenient, and seamless customer experience, even from the public sector. To meet performance, security and compliance needs, 60% of public sector organizations are projected to have cloud services on-premises or through a service provider by 2025 (IDC, Nov 21).
The adoption of cloud is one way to meet these rising expectations from citizens. Public sector organisations also need to use data to quickly pivot in times of crisis. Take the deployment of COVID-19 contact-tracing apps, for example. Cloud technology allows for the management and storage of immense amounts of sensitive data in real-time, such as the location and proximity of citizens. Disseminating essential information in time to guide the actions of resilient citizens helped in minimizing the spread of the virus in densely populated areas. Other than ensuring the welfare of citizens and employees, effectively integrating technology into organizational operations can elevate public sentiment in times of crisis.
Cloud adoption is a time-consuming process and involves navigating through the complex infrastructure of your organization. Therefore, to enable you to make the best decision, we will attempt to provide a view of the role of the cloud in the public sector.
The utility of cloud is undeniable. However, careful decision-makers may have these essential questions on their minds:
Everyone is going on cloud – Should my organization do so too? What benefits can I get from cloud migration? How do I get my organization ready?
In summary, these are the benefits of moving to the cloud:
- Increased workforce productivity
Naturally, the IT department will spend less time on infrastructure maintenance, as it will be managed by the cloud provider. In addition, as organizations’ needs change, the scalability of the cloud enables organizations to adjust the size of servers, networking, or storage according to the number of users that need access. Management, IT professionals and developers are supported by the cloud to focus on their other responsibilities with automated workflow. Managers can carry out duties through a system of management by exception and developers are adequately supported to develop apps for productivity. In addition, resources saved from cloud adoption can be diverted into other projects.
- Leverage emerging technology for value-added services
The cloud allows public sector agencies to stay up-to-date on the latest platform, database, and software applications. Depending on your organization’s requirements, this includes emerging tech like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Internet-of-Things. With most leaders in the public sector championing the digital mindset, leveraging on technology to bring automation and insights from data collected to keep up with the changing needs of citizens and businesses your organization serves. Data becomes an asset used to inform policy decisions.
- Secure data storage and backup
Having data on the cloud does not mean a greater security risk. Under reputable cloud servers, enterprise-grade security and compliance are provided. Your data will be maintained on highly secure servers by full-time security experts. Compared to an agency, these large cloud providers have more resources to invest in security, unconstrained by budget from leveraging their economy of scale effectively.
- Access data anywhere
Adapt to the hybrid working model of today by allowing employees to access data anytime and anywhere. The cloud can play a part in empowering your employees by supporting their flexible work arrangements, as data does not need to be accessed on office premises. Instead, they are free to access your organization’s data through their devices offsite.
As with any big decision, it is crucial to be cautious of the downsides of moving to the cloud, especially if there is a risk of poor implementation and adoption that could jeopardize your investment in the cloud. Next, we explore some guiding tips to help your organization maximise the potential of cloud.
How to Get Your Organization Cloud-Ready
- Align Cloud Adoption to Organizational Core Purpose
A government ready to reap the benefits of a cloud-first approach aligns digital transformation to serving citizens and businesses. It requires the consideration of several factors such as the sensitivity of personal data, data security and privacy, the accessibility of digital services, and catering to the digital literacy of the public. A cloud-ready organization would be interested in exploring how the technology can change the functions of governmental organizations and, in turn, meet public expectations. Without careful evaluation of these purposes, instead of having the technology support an organization’s core functions, they may struggle to integrate it into their operations.
- Communicate Effectively Across Departments
Migrating your organization’s operations to the cloud will not be an easy one; it involves change management and a thorough review of processes. Do consider agreeing on a timeline that will allow for processes such as data migration, the training of employees, and systems testing. Your departments need to be aligned and prepare for these processes to be executed to ensure minimal operational disruption. It is also essential to allow operations teams to be part of the decision-making process as they will ultimately be the end-users of the cloud and are most familiar with challenges in the process and pain points of your legacy system currently in place. A collaborative effort and united mindset are essential to ensure the value of the cloud is fully realized by internal stakeholders and reduce delays in its implementation throughout the organization.
- Manage the Expectations of Cloud
Misconceptions of the capabilities of cloud technology among the key decision-makers of your organization could lead to some friction when it is time to make the final call. Familiar with existing on-premise solutions, some tend to expect the same functionality for the cloud. It is essential to have everyone on the same page. One misconception about cloud adoption is the customizability of this technology. Depending on your organizations’ legacy system and requirements, software-as-a-service on cloud is not a fit-all solution. If your organization has highly decentralized operations, you might consider the City of Copenhagen’s approach of standardizing and centralizing city processes and migrating their data across seven departments into a single source; a KMD-managed cloud. Alternatively, a hybrid solution could be a better fit for organizations that require a high level of customizability. Hybrid cloud is a combination of public and private cloud as well as on-premise infrastructure. It will allow you to keep confidential information in a data center or a private cloud. In addition, this solution lets your organization utilize the resources that come with the public cloud.
- Utilize Resources Provided
Navigating through the complex journey to find the best solution requires adequate support from your chosen solutions provider. Take advantage of the resources and services provided to fully realize the value of your investment. You may depend on the expertise of solution advisors of your cloud provider, where they expertly map solutions to your target problem areas and help quantify projected benefits that would be generated over time from day one of implementation.
Cloud is a Long-term Investment
Successful cloud adoption can support the delivery of exceptional customer experience, elevate the quality of life for citizens and boost employee efficiency. The provincial government of South Tyrol, Italy aimed to simplify citizen engagement and better support digital government initiatives. Before their digital transformation, citizens and government employees dealt with paperwork and analogue workflow. Convenience for citizens came in the form of a chain of certification that authenticates and maintains up-to-date citizen data indefinitely, which only requires a one-time entry of personal information by the citizens. Authorized government employee agencies would then be able to access it. In the case of the government of South Tyrol, blockchain technology running on SAP Cloud Platform streamlined service delivery. In the future, agencies can roll out additional public services faster than on-premise solutions.
Choosing to migrate your systems to the cloud is one that requires planning and consideration of risks. With the cumulative benefits that cloud technology brings, it is a risk worth taking to keep up with the digital mindset of leading entities in the public sector, ensuring relevance and resilience in the long term.
Special Thanks to Christopher Yu (SEA Public Sector Director, SAP), Nipun Gujral (SEA Value Advisor, SAP) and Woon Hann Khoo for their guidance, insights, and expertise during the development of this content.
Observatory of Public Sector Innovation | Digital Transformation (Published: Feb 2022)
Accenture | The cloud imperative for public service (Published: Mar 2021)
SAP Insights | Cloud 101: What is Cloud Computing Technology?