EY Research: Governments at Risk of Falling Behind in Push for Digital Modernization

The COVID pandemic forced both the public and private sector to make a rapid leap forward in digitalization efforts, but the momentum of government digital transformation is at risk of being lost, according to research conducted by EY and laid out in a new report titled, “How can government workers and technology align to serve future citizens?”
The report reveals that a mere 7% of responding government leaders believed that their organization has achieved its digital transformation goals, and the news has serious implications for citizens who depend on their critical services. Many respondents indicated they felt constrained by a combination of issues including a lack of technology-savvy leaders, an organizational culture that is reactive and staid, an inability to attract and retain digital talent, and a lack of digital and data skills and the training to access and make use of them.

EY recommends a framework of four key actions that government leaders can follow as they continue the push to modernize their operational infrastructure and ways of working. First, leaders must take a longer view of capacity and capability needs and adopt a more dynamic style of workforce planning. Second, upskilling or reskilling existing employees while making efforts to attract fresh talent and make the public sector more attractive to prospective workers will help scale digital capabilities. Third, leaders who can challenge the status quo and foster digital leadership and culture must be given the power to speed digital transformation. Fourth, employment must become more tailored and offer structured career paths to help workers progress and fulfill career ambitions.

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“To truly embrace a digital government and deliver for citizens, we collectively must continue to help build future-fit public sector organizations with digitally aware leaders and a plan for building the right capacity, skills, culture, and employee experience.” said Arnauld Bertrand, EY Global Government Consulting Leader. “These will need to be encouraged and developed across the public services with new ways of working and new systems. If they don’t, opportunities to improve services through harnessing data and technology will be lost.”

For government agencies to attract the best digital talent to deliver the levels of quality, speed, and convenience demanded by citizens, top leaders will have to become more intentional about articulating a digital vision and building an employment experience that draws in smart, adaptable talent. Failure to build a talent pool and organizational vision that can take advantage of the power of digitalization runs the risk of deteriorating services, potentially leaving the most vulnerable citizens behind.