Innovation in the Public Sector

Rolf Brügger, Public Sector Expert at Deloitte Switzerland, presents our survey results around the perceptions and expectations from people living in Switzerland and working in the Government and Public Sector on digital services provided by the public sector.

The public sector has made great strides, however, more needs to be done. How insights on the Swiss Government can make further progress with innovation.

What are the main findings of the survey?

Digitalisation and innovation in the public sector are very exciting areas. Our representative survey has shown that the Swiss population would like to see more digital services being provided. They would also like these to be standardised across Switzerland. We firmly believe that this is a huge opportunity for the public sector – together with everyone involved - to take Switzerland a giant step forward. 

Which dimensions are important to the potential of innovation and digitalisation in the public sector?

When it comes to the potential of innovation and digitalisation in the public sector, two dimensions are important. The first dimension relates to communication between citizens and companies with the public sector; the second dimension refers to communication within the public sector. For me as a person, the most important thing is how easy it is for me to conduct my services with the public sector digitally and innovatively. However, we definitively see potential in the second area: communication within the public sector. Here, too, past experience has shown that there is plenty of development potential, for instance in the area of data exchange. Our survey has shown that citizens have a very strong desire for standardised Swiss-wide digital services in the public sector. Of course, this would also mean more coordination from the relevant public-sector players to ensure that the same services, etc., are offered at all levels. 

What is needed to advance innovation and digitalisation?

It is often said that this is a question of technology. Which of course it is, but not exclusively. Four aspects are important for us. First, it is the technology I mentioned earlier. In other words, the appropriate means, such as laptops and other equipment must be available so that work can be performed digitally. But that is far from sufficient. The second important point is the processes. In other words, the process must be consistently implemented digitally so that the full potential can be realised. For instance, if documents need to be repeatedly printed and signed the process has not yet been implemented digitally The third important point is culture. Culture is enormously important – to enable innovation and digitalisation within a company, you have to ensure that its employees also accept these accordingly. The same applies for a country’s citizens. The final aspect relates to the legal framework. These must of course be in place in order to harness the full potential of digitalisation in the public sector. 

What do we need to do to make further progress?

First of all, I think it is important to recognise that enormous progress has already been made, particularly in the last 12 months. In my opinion, three aspects are central to driving this development forward. The first important aspect is the legal framework. As already indicated, certain legal foundations need to exist in order for the potential of digitalisation to be used systematically. One example that comes to mind is digital signatures. The second aspect is the public’s trust in the public sector. The acceptance of digital services by the population ultimately determines their success.. Our survey has shown that certain concerns exist with regard to data protection and data security. In light of this, it is extremely important that these points are taken on board and addressed to ensure that the relevant services are accepted. The third and final point is willingness: the willingness of decision-makers to actually want to make a change. Here, we see a huge opportunity to work together with all relevant parties so that in the end we can really bring Switzerland a step forward together. 

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