How can we create better workforces not replace existing ones?

EY's Director Duncan Campbell explains what automation in the workplace might mean for public services

On the 28th February, I joined UK and global government leaders for Innovation 2019, a summit in London that aims to connect governments from around the world to better respond to fast-changing public expectations.

Addressing citizens’ expectations

In an increasingly complex world, governments need to find new approaches for local and regional problems. Rising citizen expectations, growing demands on services, budget issues, and high levels of bureaucracy in an environment of diminishing trust means governments are under pressure to rethink the way they deliver services to the public.

The future workforce: where automation helps

Automation can optimize different areas in need of improvement, firstly by expanding the capabilities of the workforce and secondly by delivering better access to services for citizens and communities.

Responding to the traditional perception that automation will cause workers to be replaced by machines, I want to shift the focus to how we can create better workforces, not how we can replace existing ones.

Historically, automation has led to many opportunities. Advances in technology have led to higher wages, longer life expectancy, faster growth, rising employment, and less dangerous and menial work.

So how can automation help governments better serve their citizens and communities?

"In an increasingly complex world, governments need to find new approaches for local and regional problems." 

Three ways automation is transforming government organisations

From cost savings and increased delivery speed, to new operating models, higher value activities for employees, and better outcomes for citizens, here are three ways in which automation can help your organisation:

1. Efficiency and productivity

With budgets under pressure, automation provides a way to improve productivity with the same resources, by automating high-volume, repetitive, manual processes. Customer enquiries can be processed and resolved more quickly, more cheaply and more accurately using process automation and machine learning tools, that can be developed to process lots of data, complicated calculations, or repetitive tasks.

2. More time for what really matters

By using automation, we can free up time from public service teams’ busy schedules to unleash their talents and focus on what really matters – human connections. If nurses and social workers, for example, do not need to spend time on mechanical, administrative tasks, they will have capacity to provide more care for patients or help vulnerable children and families.

3. Prediction and forecasting

By using automation technologies, we can extract insights from big data to augment human decision-making. Imagine being able to easily filter vast amounts of information from different government and other relevant sources to create individual profiles based on preset indicators. We could identify risk cases earlier and make better use of resources by offering even more targeted services. You can read more in our report which details how through this approach, councils are unlocking the potential of early intervention and transforming the way services address the needs of the most vulnerable people.

Click here to read the rest of this article, or here to download EY's report 'How can data tell a story that keeps a vulnerable person safe?'

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