Intelligent Automation: supporting short- and long-term public sector strategy


Public sector agencies are increasingly turning to intelligent automation, especially to address issues of efficiency like the automation of manual processes, workflows handling operations such as licensing and permits, and inter-agency interactions. In doing so, they are delivering quick wins for their governments – “using automation to do things differently,” as Ernst and Young point out (1).  

These short-term wins needn’t just be tactical but can – at the same time – be key building blocks to achieving long-term strategic goals. Ernst and Young again: “But they will achieve breakthrough performance by using intelligent automation to do different things”.

When he announced the formation of the federal Services Australia agency, the Prime Minister specifically called out Service NSW as a poster child for digital-first services (2). Numerous case studies have been published on the NSW agency, which has been considered a success by any measure. At the heart of the success has been a “bi-focal strategy … where organisations could reap the immediate benefits of higher stakeholder engagement, and broader cultural and service transformation over the longer term.” “This is about radically doing something different,” according to Service NSW's former boss Rachna Gandhi (3).

The public sector is being driven to do different things by four forces:  the pandemic, the need to do more for less, customer expectations, and the increasing age of employees. Much has been written about Covid’s effect on ways of working and the ever-present need for greater efficiency, so we won’t go over that ground here. And we’ve written elsewhere about the need to meet the rising customer expectations of a public brought up on Netflix and Apple. On the fourth issue, of staff retention and attraction, the average age of an Australian public servant in 2019 was 43.6, an increase of almost 5% from 2010 (4). The public sector desperately needs to attract ‘young blood’, and not just in the technology arena. Intelligent automation helps deliver a much-improved employee experience by providing the more modern environment millennials expect and automating mundane tasks to free staff up for more stimulating work.

This is where Rachna Gandhi’s bi-focal strategy comes in, enabled by intelligent automation. Immediate benefits can be reaped by going for the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of process automation,

while at the same time thinking longer-term to deliver transformative change that is truly different. We’ve seen a couple of state government departments undertake this sort of change, to great effect. By starting small and showing rapid results, agencies have effected longer-term transformation of employee and customer engagement, and cultural and service delivery change. One such case study can be found here.

What is it about intelligent automation that makes it so suited to a ‘bi-focal’ strategy of rapid results leading to longer term transformation? Fundamentally, it’s because intelligent automation provides a platform on which to quickly build multiple applications for the agency. You can start small and build towards a long-term vision from there, having delivered quick wins along the way. For example, we have a UK customer for whom we have delivered 38 applications in just 12 months.

We advise starting small because it’s easier to quickly recognise the benefits, easier to get a project off the ground, and more affordable. To make things even easier, we offer a Transform2 service, which combines the world’s leading low code enterprise automation, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation platforms with our expert services into one affordable bundle. In fact we put our money where our mouth is in this respect: we offer a four-week free pilot of Transform2 so that you can choose a real business problem and solve it quickly at no charge.

Please contact us to start doing different things, as well as doing things differently.