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Automation in the Public Sector Needed for Staff and Citizen Support During and Post COVID-19

In our current times, businesses and citizens are seeking more reassurance and proactive support from their governments than ever before as they weather the storm of COVID-19. In turn, government agency employees are dealing with a long list of challenges every single day in order to meet these new needs and requirements.

Under ‘normal’ circumstances, citizens already hope to deal with government agencies in the same seamless and convenient way that they shop online for groceries. However, during large-scale crises rather than scaling down, staff in public services must work even harder than usual to ensure all essential amenities are available to citizens. In fact, according to a recent poll conducted by Blue Prism and OpenGov Asia, the biggest challenge faced by local public sector decision-makers in the ‘new normal’ is citizens’ requirements for new services – because of what they have become accustomed to as they were instructed to stay at home in the past year.

In their race to keep pace with evolving citizen expectations and demands, public sector agencies are seeing first-hand how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the gaps between the inadequacies of existing legacy systems and their digital readiness. With agency staff working incessantly to help citizens but also having to deal with seemingly insurmountable workloads, could automation augment their ability to serve people?

We would suggest so, especially with 59 percent of public sector decision-makers in Singapore believing that incorporating automation into their organisation’s digital transformation journey would help improve overall work efficiency.

First, an automation mindset shift

As the world continues to lean toward digitalisation, intelligent automation has been adopted widely to manage and respond to the proliferation of data and information. Organisations have long focused on harnessing innovative technology to replace mundane administrative tasks, and rightly so, as such automation typically results in higher cost-effectiveness, a boost in productivity levels and increased operational agility. However, as digital transformation has started taking a firm foothold in many businesses, we have seen the traditional notion of intelligent automation and what is encompasses progressively giving way to a more complex one. In other words, automation has moved from just offloading onerous and menial tasks to a realm of innovative solutions.

By bridging the gap between ageing technology and intelligent automation, organisations are able to focus on automating tasks that are more strategic and complex to them, equipping them to better achieve mission outcomes and maximise resources. This shift requires organisations to re-examine the areas where intelligent automation can potentially support business functions and to recognise the importance of tying intelligent automation, in conjunction with other innovative technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence, to legacy applications to better run our society.

Exploring new possibilities in Singapore’s education sector

One example of where intelligent automation has an untapped potential to make a huge wave within the public sector is within education.

The circuit-breaker measures implemented by the Singapore government earlier this year sparked the catalytic shift towards remote working. Along with a large part of the workforce, most students, if not all, across various education levels, had to follow suit and continue their learning from home. This disruption in schooling has led schools to rethink ways to move towards online learning in the long term, and intelligent automation has emerged as one such solution.

The benefits of intelligent automation within education are twofold. Firstly, by implementing intelligent automation platforms in education systems through the deployment of intelligent digital workers across multiple functions, the time and human labour spent on administrative tasks can be significantly reduced. These ‘digital workers’, which are essentially a scalable team of low- or no-code software robots, can be trained by any user within a government agency to do anything, from automating basic tasks like updating students’ records, through to more complex ones like automating grading assessments for students’ national exams.

Besides unlocking efficiencies, such intelligent automation platforms will also allow lecturers or teachers to spend more time teaching, freeing them from administration to concentrate on tailoring lessons and enhancing the learning experience for students.

With digital workers working alongside public sector staff to take on excessive, tedious and repeated processes, they then have more time to then exercise their creativity, empathy and critical problem-solving abilities, focus on more value-adding projects or even take some time off for their personal well-being.

The next step in fulfilling digital transformation mandates

Governments around the world have laid out a long-term vision to modernise key areas in the public sector in order to effectively deliver operationally excellent services for their citizens. Singapore, with its launch of a ‘Digital Government Blueprint’ in 2018, is no different.

Within this equation, the benefit of unattended and intelligent automation is its interoperability with existing systems and its scalability. By incorporating a digital workforce as an additional organisational layer, intelligent automation can connect and unify different systems to deliver a frictionless digital experience and better support the human workforce.

Through lessons enforced by the pandemic with regard to insufficient or overworked employees, digital workers could very well be what all government agencies need as they move forward – the ability to provide modern services and provide a sense of solace and reassurance to the citizens using them.


Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.


CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.


Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.


SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.


HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 


IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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