Unit4's State of the Digital Nation 2023 Survey Shows Public Sector Needs to Accelerate Investment to Improve Citizen Services
International data indicates program delivery contends with inconsistent goal setting and increased pressure for efficiencies
LONDON, May 23, 2023 /CNW/ -- Unit4, a leader in enterprise cloud applications for people-centric organizations, today announced the findings of its 2023 State of the Digital Nation survey, which examined the progress in digital transformation made by public sector institutions in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden since the last research was undertaken in 2021. This latest study interviewed 300 public sector professionals across central and local government, non-governmental bodies and healthcare. The 2021 study interviewed 600 public sector professionals across the same verticals within US, Canada, UK, Belgium, Sweden and Australia.
Pace of change is static despite more confidence in on-time and on-budget delivery
While the proportion of respondents' organisations who feel completely confident that the digital transformation of back office systems will be delivered on-time and on-budget has improved since 2021, the pace of digital transformation has only seen a slight improvement. Nearly two in five (37%) respondents stated that it will take their organization 2 - 3 years to fully digitize, with Sweden having the highest prportion of respondents reporting this timeframe. Canada has the largest proportion (25%) saying it will take 12 - 18 months, and the UK has the largest proportion (32%) believing it will take 18 months to 2 years. It was also found that there has been a reduction in the number of respondents saying their organizations' digital transformation strategies have been fully implemented – 21% in 2023 vs 29% in 2021. There is also an increase in those saying their organizations' digital transformation strategies have been minimally implemented – 31% in 2023 vs 22% in 2021.
Measuring success: the impact on citizens
In the last 24 months, aside from COVID-19 impacts, the two biggest changes the public sector has seen include a greater need to deliver efficiency savings followed by public pressure to improve spending transparency. In order to make cost savings, apart from adopting lower cost collaboration solutions that deliver efficiencies, respondents' organizations are also moving to a shorter working week to save salary costs, which is the most likely priority for non-Governmental bodies. The third most likely priority across all surveyed countries is making cuts to citizen or community services (29%), which is the most likely priority for UK (37%) and central Government respondents (35%).
"It is understandable that efficiency is the watchword for most public sector organizations today, amid an ever-increasing level of scrutiny over spending," said Mike Ettling, CEO of Unit4. "Against such a backdrop, the reality is that organizations are simply focused on making sure services are delivered, but we see the warning signs that it is getting harder to do this within budget and without raising taxes. Even with such pressure, though, it is critical to retain focus on long-term transformation goals, as ultimately this is what will benefit citizens and revolutionize services."
Could a lack of goal consistency impact long-term delivery?
The 2023 State of the Digital Nation survey reveals that digital transformation is clearly facing challenges in the public sector around the world, since Unit4 last commissioned the research in 2021. It signals that organizations face difficult choices to balance the need to identify cost efficiencies, while still maintaining the appropriate levels of services for citizens. It also shows that inconsistency in strategy is hampering transformation, which is likely to be as a result of organizations having to switch focus from dealing with the pandemic to short-term initiatives to sustain services against a backdrop of budget constraints. However, if public sector bodies do not keep sight of long-term objectives for transformation, they risk stagnation in the pace of change, at a time when accelerating such initiatives will be even more important to improving services and outcomes for citizens.
Unit4's next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions power many of the world's mid-market organizations, bringing together the capabilities of Financials, Procurement, Project Management, HR, and FP&A to share real-time information, and deliver greater insights to help organizations become more effective. By combining our mid-market expertise with a relentless focus on people, we've built flexible solutions to meet customers' unique and changing needs. Unit4 serves more than 5,100 customers globally across a number of sectors including professional services, nonprofit and public sector, with customers including Southampton City Council, Metro Vancouver, Buro Happold, Devoteam, Save the Children International, Global Green Growth Institute and Oxfam America. For further information visit www.unit4.com.
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