Good citizen experience is one of the most essential components of an effective government. Unfortunately, it is still a far cry from the seamless, personalised engagements that citizens have and expect from the private sector. Getting information or accessing services from government agencies online continues to be a tedious process and often remains a frustrating experience in most countries. And whilst many governments are prioritising improvement in the way they engage with their customers, bureaucratic processes and outdated policies can often stymie good intentions.
The public sector must shift to citizen-centric digital offerings, with an effective strategy to deliver private sector level digital services. As reported by OpenGov Asia in the exclusive interview with John Mackenney, Principal Digital Strategist, APAC, Adobe, John believes that the strategy for personalisation goes further in government than private sectors. Government has the responsibility of equity – to make sure everyone has access to what is needed and ensure that no one is left behind within society.
To implement these strategies and plans, effective policies must be put in place that support and facilitate government objectives. Currently, misaligned policies, obsolete culture and a lack of leadership often hinder the public sector’s desire for meaningful transformation. That is why Adobe is helping governments update their policies, promote a citizen-centric culture, and encourage forward-thinking leadership as part of their long-term strategy.
Adobe is helping revolutionise public sector agencies through cutting-edge digital transactions because it recognises that great citizen experiences have the power to inspire, transform and revitalise agencies. Such experiences also engender trust and compliance on the part of citizens, just as it does in the private sector. Adobe connects content and data, introduces new technologies that democratise creativity, shape the next generation of storytelling and inspire entirely new business categories.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Jennifer Mulveny, Director of Government Relations, Asia-Pacific at Adobe on this topic.
Jennifer oversees all public policy issues that impact Adobe’s business in the Asia-Pacific region, including data, international trade, privacy, cybersecurity and intellectual property. She has held several advisory roles within government and business, specialising in international trade and technology policy matters. She currently co-chairs the special interest group on public policy for the Australia Information Industry Association (AIIA).
On the purpose of policies, Jennifer explained that they are designed to support outcomes that improve lives by providing products, services and ultimately help mitigate negative situations. Jennifer divided policies into two categories – policies that prioritise the needs and convenience of citizens and those that facilitate a governments ability to operate as efficiently as possible.
Companies can work to influence policies that advance their own business or facilitate their customers to improve their business. Companies often promote policies that benefit an entire industry or ecosystem, or initiatives that are simply good for the community. Policy strategy can also be more reactionary as companies or associations seek to improve existing well-intended policies, but often the details are hard to implement.
To help governments understand what policies to change or update, Adobe first looks to get a comprehensive understanding of what the government is prioritising based on their goals and electoral pledges. Delivering on mandates and promises is essential – and policymakers recognise that building trust from citizens is more critical now than ever.
Adobe works to increase trust between citizens and governments by creating meaningful and dependable online engagements. Providing the tools needed to delight citizens, whether it is online or an in-person transaction. Consolidating hundreds of citizen-facing government websites with irrelevant information that are hard to navigate into a few personalised, interactive sites with meaningful and streamlined content.
To do this effectively, a strong leader in government has to promote policies that incentivise agencies to put the citizen first by consolidating websites, updating outdated content and digitising paper forms. In 2018 the United States Congress did this with support from the White House by passing the 21st Century IDEA Act, which aims to improve government customers’ digital experience and reinforce existing requirements for federal public websites.
As a result of this policy, US agencies are complying by turning paper forms into digital interactions, enabling digital signatures, modernising websites and overhauling portals for citizens to communicate more efficiently with public officials.
In Australia, a law will soon be passed that promotes the sharing of non-sensitive citizen data between agencies so that that information can be consolidated into a “single view of the citizen” to streamline applications and other processes.
Certain policies can be appropriate for a particular time and place, but as society evolves, some policies will be obsolete. Adobe either recognises several things that need to change or probes the government to find out what they would like to improve regarding citizen engagement. Technologies can assist the public sector to major issues such as improving healthcare and protecting the environment.
Adobe’s research on citizen engagement shows that while people often look for information on a government website, they often do not find the necessary information – or it is a long, convoluted process and they often give up and look elsewhere. This can be easily measured by the time a citizen spends on a site and ultimately turns to a call centre to answer an inquiry often costing governments significant resources. Governments must invest in making the online citizen experience more convenient and intuitive.
An effective policy that facilitates a better citizen experience is one that gives agencies the ability to move data between government agencies. In Australia, sharing citizen data between agencies is an arduous process and one that dissuades agencies from transferring and sharing necessary data. This is why a citizen can often be asked several times for their name, date of birth and address when they have multiple transactions. The Australian government is introducing a policy that makes sharing data across platforms far easier.
Another example is a policy surrounding an electronic or digital signature that got updated out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the global scale, Jennifer opined that the US 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) is the best example of a policy that improves the citizen experience. The policy sets a threshold for all government agencies to create and consolidate better website experiences. As a result, many U.S. agencies are stepping up to meet the threshold. Notably, the U.S. Census Bureau launched a mobile app for the first time and the U.S. Department of Energy has digitised paper forms.
Jennifer touched on the topic of how to measure policy success which is not always easy. Objectively measuring the effectiveness of a policy is difficult as each government agency has different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). However, in general, a “citizen first” policy can be considered successful if it can be demonstrably shown to reduce costs and save time for citizens or public servants. Adobe conducted a study in Australia that showed an improved digital experience could save Australians about 2 days a year. In addition, she notes that success is in creating a more enjoyable environment and culture for citizens.
Jennifer is passionate about advocating citizen-centric policies that prioritise citizens’ needs by creating personalised experiences instead of reactionary-based policies. To create such policies, the public sector needs to obtain and analyse citizen data to make informed decisions, but this does not need to be personal data. Even minimal information that the government can glean from citizens that do not sign into a website, such as their general geographic location and search terms can be insightful.
To help the public sector improve citizen experience, Adobe systematically analyses the obstacles that impede agency aspirations. Categorising the level of difficulty of each obstacle and prioritising which problem to solve first.
Jennifer conceded that one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome is culture. Strong leadership and a genuine team approach for a successful outcome are required to make a significant transformation in citizen experiences.
For example, consolidating citizen-facing engagements such as tax returns, passport applications, social services and license applications into one portal will require buy-in from the agencies that have oversight across those services. Public servants may initially be reluctant to move out of their comfort zone which is why good policy, such as data sharing initiatives can help bolster these initiatives.
Emphasising the significance of partnerships, Jennifer is convinced that there should be a strong relationship between the public and private sectors when it comes to digital transformation. Collaboration between the public and private sectors is the best way to produce new solutions and policies that best serve citizens.
By collaborating with the public sector, Adobe has gained unparalleled insights about government goals and in exchange, the public service gains new skills and global experience from companies that have invested heavily in their products to deliver best-in-breed services.
Jennifer believes many policies, such as allowing agencies to share a certain level of non-sensitive citizen data to create “one view of the citizen” is essential to creating a better experience. She supports non-partisan global policy think tanks that make recommendations of what technology policies governments should adopt based on the economy and demographics. It is essential for both large and small, domestic and foreign-based companies to advocate for policies that mutually provide private sector growth and public sector trust.
Healthcare systems around the world spend trillions of dollars each year to address growing healthcare challenges. These barriers include epidemiological shifts in death rates (from maternal, perinatal and infectious diseases to cardiovascular diseases and cancers), as well as an ageing population with longer life expectancies.
Singapore stands out among countries across the world. Its constantly stable economy, focus on social inclusivity and penchant for deploying technology have aided in hastening the achievement of the country’s healthcare milestones.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak with Associate Professor Thomas Lew, Group Chief Data & Strategy Officer, National Healthcare Group to gain further insights on the future of healthcare in the nation as well as the key pillars and catalysts that drive the sector.
Technology has accelerated transformation in the health sector
COVID-19 has introduced unprecedented challenges for healthcare across the board but at the same time inspired and driven innovations at unprecedented speed. Beyond a doubt, the use of technology in healthcare has resulted in better patient diagnosis and treatment and has improved the quality of life and saved lives.
In the current context, it is likely the most important sector to benefit from technological adoption. Telehealth, for example, has proven to be fairly successful as people seek to manage their care in new and different ways during the pandemic, which has surprised some physicians.
Singapore is a densely connected city-state where the complexities of an internet-enabled telehealth consultation compete with the standard physical visit to the doctor. According to Associate Professor Lew, telehealth must be contextualised for value, grounded on trust-based relationships, in areas such as real-time biological monitoring, and round-the-clock trusted advice and alerts.
“For the healthy population, the potential of health coaching for individuals and organisations has yet to be fully realised. In order to envision telehealth beyond transactional efficiency, much remains to be done,” he explains.
Artificial intelligence and automation services and systems also significantly benefit healthcare. Yet, Associate Professor Lew believes, while AI is not in the consciousness of mainstream healthcare workers, it is ubiquitous without their realisation.
The lower hanging fruits for AI inclusion in direct care interventions continue to be mundane and predictable tasks, as well as assistive robots in ancillary or health facility production systems. AI and machine learning are probably most valuable as augmented intelligence for narrowly defined use-cases with adequate digital guardrails so that the basis for interpretation is understood and trusted. In this context, experts have recommended that, in addition to deep learning, more traditional hierarchical models of reasoning be used.
When asked about the decision-making process through data analytics, Associate Professor Lew firmly believes that “decision-making is a complex cognitive science.” He says, “NHG has always been a data-driven organisation and has made many major shifts in its strategic directions, from attention to acute care, to the ageing population, to a pre-emptive model for augmenting today’s medical model for tomorrow’s preventive health of the population.”
Data scientists, such as those at the Institute of Mental Health, Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Office of Clinical Epidemiology, Analytics, and Knowledge (OCEAN) and NHG’s Health Services and Outcomes Research (HSOR), enable NHG to apply data for insights and translation into policy and investments in new services. By creating a shared data model, NHG can implement near real-time health-intelligence tools across the organisation.
NHG’s River of Life population health strategy comprising the Living Well, Living With Illness, Crisis and Complex Care, Living with Frailty, and Leaving Well segments of care, seeks to provide holistic, integrated care from cradle to grave, and ensures that no one is left behind for his or her health needs.
NHG is focused on implementing its digital master plan in tandem with the Ministry of Health’s digital ecosystem and the national Smart Nation Digital strategy. This entails strengthening NHG’s digital front-door services to the population. In addition, NHG intends to improve its data analytics infrastructure for ingesting unstructured data, analytics workbenches and business intelligence tools to advise policy decisions and improve outcomes.
“When we collaborate with our partners through portals on shared care plans, our residents can access digital services seamlessly to augment their experience with our physical healthcare system,” Associate Professor Lew elaborates.
When asked about his current role in upskilling the workforce and bolstering the talent pipeline, Associate Professor Thomas believes in the synergy of dual-domain expertise. Many of NHG’s skilled healthcare professionals, he noted, have solid foundations for expanding their roles over and above their core experiences into health technology-related areas such as informatics, data science, data systems management, and biomedical engineering.
Arguably, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed stress points in societies’ coping mechanisms, as well as the limits to which individual needs are balanced with the collective interest. The way forward, he emphasises, is a return to basics, based on the values and ethical systems that govern healthcare delivery. With NHG’s vision of “Adding Years of Healthy Life,” the organisation is driven to be foresighted, proactive, and responsive to changing needs.
Singapore is not lacking in potentially disruptive technologies such as 5G for remote care or real-time supervision; machine learning for augmented intelligence, drug discoveries, and biomarkers; health insights through digital phenotyping; assistive robots for preventive care of the isolated; or using blockchain for improving the data security.
“What is important is being true to the values treasured by person and community, to ensure we deliver care to those we serve with good judgement, ethos, and empathy.”
About Associate Professor Thomas Lew
Associate Professor Thomas Lew graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Faculty of Medicine in 1985, specialising in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine, with special interests in neurological intensive care and neuro-anaesthesia. He is Group Chief Data and Strategy Officer at the National Healthcare Group (NHG), one of three public healthcare clusters in Singapore, which serves 2.2 million residents in Central Singapore. He is currently an anaesthesiologist at TTSH, where he was Chairman of the Medical Board between 2011 and 2019.
Associate Professor Lew is also Clinical Director of NHG’s Centre for Medical Technology and Innovation (CMTi), an integrated agency that supports clinician innovators in collaborating with industry and academic partners to bring new technologies to market. On practising medicine, Associate Professor Lew says, “The practice of medicine builds purpose and meaning through service to individuals and community. It is very satisfying to help patients to recover and heal, and undeservedly receive their gratitude for a new lease on life. Through these encounters, tinged with their suffering, courage, and grief, we realise the fragility of life and the limits of medicine. However, this also inspires personal growth and maturity through learned experiences, in particular the power of communications, receiving and offering empathy.”
Attributed to Manish Prakash, Regional Business Lead, Worldwide Government, Microsoft Asia
Asia’s city leaders are among the world’s most forward-thinking when it comes to smart cities. In fact, the Asia-Pacific region is set to account for 40% of the global smart city spending, or $800 billion by 2025 and 80% of all economic activities is expected to shift to cities in the years to come.
Rapid urbanization, demographic shifts, climate change and advancements in technology have all been drivers for disruption for a need for smarter cities. This transformation has been further accelerated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which revealed vulnerabilities, but also prompted cities to seek out new technologies to help them deal with COVID-related disruptions.
Digital transformation will be high on the agenda at the upcoming World Smart City Expo (WSCE). Ahead of that, I share my reflections and observations from across the region on post-crisis efforts in innovation, and how they are transforming cities in Asia. More crucially, how we can stay on track to unlock the realization of smart cities in Asia with our learnings from the pandemic.
During the World Cities Summit 2021, where government representatives and industry experts discussed livable and sustainable city challenges, Randeep Sudan, former World Bank executive and Board Advisor of analyst firm, Ecosystm, shared about how city leaders need to “think ahead, think across, and think again to build resilient and sustainable cities of tomorrow”. This includes having strategic foresight to plan and think ahead, thinking across projects to leverage synergies, and thinking again to stay innovative.
I couldn’t agree more. Faced with sudden disruption and a need for continuity amid the pandemic, cities have been forced to think differently like never before.
Microsoft has been a trusted ally for many of these cities in their pandemic response, especially in helping them think differently to overcome challenges and drive business continuity. When IT staff at the city of Kobe, Japan were overwhelmed with more than 40,000 calls a day from citizens seeking information about crisis-related assistance programs and volunteer opportunities, they leveraged Microsoft’s Power Platform to develop an application that could respond to all but the most complex issues. This reduced call volumes by 90 per cent, while reassuring citizens that their needs were being met.
Also in Japan, the City of Osaka embraced cloud and remote working shortly before the pandemic began. With Microsoft Teams, about 2,000 workers—nearly 10 per cent of the entire city staff – were able to work remotely and could remotely train 518 new recruits and transferees.
In Sydney, the New South Wales government and the homelessness sector used the By Name List app, powered by Microsoft’s data collection tool, to help 1,000 rough sleepers to find accommodation. The government’s COVID-19 task force continues to make plans to use the app to plan for citizens’ exit from temporary accommodation into permanent supported housing.
For the public transportation industry specifically, the need to “think differently” could not be more apparent – people avoided mass transport options and public places almost overnight, following necessary lockdowns imposed in the early months to contain the virus spread. Did you know that with more people opting to travel in their own vehicles, public transport ridership has fallen by an average of 62% since the start of COVID-19? Some cities in Asia are seeing a more severe drop, like Kuala Lumpur (76.1%) and Tokyo (77%).
To drive business continuity while ensuring public safety amid more crunched budgets, Kuala Lumpur’s Mass Rapid Transit Corporation was able to continue building massive rail line extensions through the pandemic with Bentley software hosted on Azure. This has enabled more than 1,500 users to collaborate, while reduced errors and design conflicts, improving collaboration efficiency by 35 per cent while ensuring the completion of the project on time and within budget.
In Mr Sdan’s words earlier, city leaders need to do more than think differently, but also think across, think ahead, and think again.
This means working toward a more sustainable future and reconsidering current processes and infrastructure. For instance an India-based startup, SUN Mobility accelerates mass electric vehicle usage with cost-efficient, cloud-connected swappable batteries, in New Delhi and beyond.
The road ahead
We see a rise of a new economy that is powered by intelligent data and real-time insights for policy development and decision modelling. The generation, distribution and consumption of such data over the past few years have resulted in massive technological advancements in AI and ML models – that cities leverage not only to deploy connected and autonomous electric vehicles but also to provide safe living environments, create smart energy and utility options and deliver micro health and other welfare services. This data economy will hence help foster innovation, create jobs, and build new industry paths to accelerate growth in these cities.
We were encouraged to see many cities making plans to build off the progress over the past year with digital transformation. Osaka, for example, is already looking to involve more AI and IoT solutions to enhance work efficiency, design apps for single tasks within each municipal organization, and to use public-private sector data to help realize evidence-based policymaking, we should expect challenges ahead with an increasing number of smart city solutions. While these solutions could potentially make our streets safer, public spaces more appealing, and roads less congested, many will depend on AI to analyze data from connected devices.
For this reason, cities everywhere need to put security and trust at the centre of their smart city ambitions. While we are committed to the democratization of data, we are doing so in a way that protects individual privacy. Microsoft expects to be involved in 20 new collaborations built around shared data by 2022, including initiatives in our region. Many of the collaborations already underway focus on fostering data collaborations at the city level, from monitoring air quality in London, to improving accessibility of sidewalks, to improving local data on policing in the United States. The Open Data Policy Lab—an initiative by The GovLab and Microsoft—has recently established the City Incubator, a first-of-its-kind program to support data innovations in cities.
As per the UN, cities consume 70 per cent of natural resources produce 50 per cent of global waste and emit 80 per cent of global greenhouse gases every day. With nations committing to climate control and the UN’s sustainable development goals, governments will have to take decisive actions and drive strategies to significantly reduce their dirty energy footprint in their cities. Microsoft’s platforms such as digital twins have helped model usage data of buildings, factories, energy networks, IoT data in a live environment to generate quick efficiencies towards achieving some of these goals.
Finally, it is important that we never forget to put people first. The success of new technologies will not solely be measured by their level of innovation, but also by their ability to make a difference in the lives of the people they serve.
After all, what makes a solution resilient isn’t just the technology itself. Rather, it is the degree to which the technology gives citizens better lives, helps businesses thrive, and governments provide great services. Keeping all this in mind, we look forward to unlocking resilient and citizen-centric smart cities of tomorrow.
Citizen Experience is one of the most essential parts to create an effective government. Unfortunately, citizen experience with government agencies is still a far cry from the seamless, personalised engagements that citizens demand. Getting information or accessing services from government agencies online was a tedious process and often remains a frustrating experience.
Pushed online, the pandemic forced businesses to ramp up their digital offerings and virtual transactions. Used to private sector service, citizens’ expectations and demands of their government have has escalated astronomically.
Against this backdrop, the public sector must now rethink how best to serve citizens through citizen-centric digital offerings. In addition, governments need an effective strategy to deliver private sector level digital services.
Adobe is helping revolutionise public sector agencies through cutting-edge digital transactions. Great citizen experiences have the power to inspire, transform and revitalise agencies. Adobe connects content and data, introduces new technologies that democratise creativity, shape the next generation of storytelling and inspire entirely new business categories.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to John Mackenney, Principal Digital Strategist, Asia-Pacific, Adobe. The company has been helping major corporates across various industries to improve the digital experience for their customers.
John has adapted professional transformation from a successful career in senior finance roles to become a true digital transformation expert. He advises senior leadership at Adobe on strategies for customer or citizen experience transformation and digital innovation in his current role. John brings a wealth of knowledge in industry development and practical implementation experience to help customers devise comprehensive transformation programmes.
When looking at citizen experience in the public sector, John conceded that several factors come into play. Expectations of citizens are growing exponentially given the standard has been set by private sectors, especially banks and retail outlets.
However, citizen experience with the public sector is highly fragmented and diverse. Every department has a different standard operating procedure, platform and interface – often making citizens confused and left with conflicting information.
While online services were already being rolled out before COVID-19, the pandemic has exacerbated the situation and accelerated timelines. John strongly feels that public sector agencies have to get consistent timely information to people in a normal situation – much more so during a pandemic.
Another challenge for the public sector is that citizens across the globe have become time-poor – meaning they have less available time. From a purely economic productivity perspective, John is convinced that government agencies need to change the way they interact with their citizens by making the services more efficient.
And this is what the big picture is for Adobe – developing technologies that help government agencies to provide information to citizens in an efficient, effective, timely and contextualised way.
Each department in each agency has its unique mandate and functionalities and citizens do not usually understand the intricacy of every one of these departments. To ease the confusion and complexity, Adobe has developed technological solutions that provide a consistent experience across departments.
Providing informative and engaging content is also critical as citizens have to interact with multiple government departments for a wide range of needs – from personal to professional to commercial. Services could range from a birth certificate to a marriage license or business documentation.
Adobe offers a common capability to get messaging out for any department. They understand that every department is at a different point in their digital transformation journey and have tailored their digital solutions accordingly. They have a consistent way to manage information across major life events in a single place.
Singapore is a great example for John, as the nation was an early leader in several areas in the public sector digital transformation landscape – such as its analytics capability. However, other governments are pushing the envelope with their digital services. For example, Canada and Australia are evolving more quickly in understanding complex omnichannel environments.
John touched on the topic of personalisation and thinks that the term is misunderstood in government. Personalisation in public sectors should mean that information is delivered contextually. Government agencies should provide relevant information based on a citizen’s specific needs. For example, if someone is unemployed and looking for a job, agencies can provide information about available jobs or courses on reskilling.
John believes that personalisation goes further in government than private sectors. Government has the responsibility of equity – to make sure everyone has access to what is needed and ensure that no one is left behind within society. For instance, agencies need to customise the experience of people with disabilities who have different needs – be it learning, commuting, or working.
Three elements of technologies are necessary to deliver personalisation – content, context and experience delivery. Governments need to utilise data to help citizens through various stages in their life journey. They must create personalised content based on different citizens’ needs within the context of their life stage. This will impact and influence the way data is collected, stored and analysed to generate actionable insights.
In the end, John urges governments to change their mindset when it comes to services delivery in a digital world – moving from fixating on one big project to adopting a continuous improvement paradigm. Technologies will evolve and get better, so governments must set up the right infrastructure and suitable workforce to absorb and utilise tech as it becomes available. Additionally, they must continuously invest in the right technology and look to improve every day with focus and spend on digital skills, digital enablement and digital literacy of citizens
As lockdowns are gradually lifted across the world, a key challenge in terms of workplace safety and optimum productivity is coming to the fore for management and human resources. Companies need to deliver an effective and successful ‘re-entry strategy’ for their businesses as well as their employees using the right tools and resources.
Physical spaces and workplace dynamics are being re-thought, re-shaped, and re-designed to accommodate changing talent and business aspirations as well as the change in location of work. Although the workplace had already begun to transform before COVID-19, the pandemic has accelerated the process that would otherwise have taken years to complete.
As businesses begin to recover across industries, there is greater awareness of the need to become more agile in the workplace. Corporates are becoming more flexible and accommodating to the needs of the workforce in the new normal with many companies continuing to prioritise business continuity.
OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Malcolm Koh, Director of CX Practice, Global Customer Engagement, Zendesk, a customer service software company with support and sales products designed to improve customer relationships. As their “Customer in Residence”, Malcolm has deep expertise in both operational and strategic elements of customer service delivery with over 20 years of experience spanning 8 industries.
For over a year, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many businesses and industries. Some are more severe than others. Some were able to expand their businesses, while others had to make strategic, even drastic, cuts. One common factor though, was that almost everyone needed to retreat to their homes because of the lockdowns and remote work recommendations all over the world.
Even though this was a significant change in the daily lives of the majority of the workforce, for some, it made little difference because they were already working remotely. As a result of the global pandemic, businesses have been forced to make drastic changes to the workplace, causing complete disruption to the employee experience.
Malcolm acknowledges that employee experience has changed over the past 18 months just as how customer experience has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, indeed, these continue to evolve and rise. He believes that “employees are customers too” and that the key to a great experience lies in flexibility and collaboration – even more so now as companies have moved to hybrid models of operation.
Digital transformation is about using technology to change the way work is done, how employees interact, and how the workplace is structured, not just using new or more technology. Malcolm notes that as governments explore the use of apps and user interface design to improve citizens’ access to public services, the same should be done within their agencies to help employees easily access knowledge, tools, and support as they go about their work.
Without a doubt, Malcolm emphasised that having an employee-first mindset would greatly benefit any organisation. This means listening, asking for and responding to their feedback.
Organisations are solidifying their hybrid and remote work arrangements as they ease into new post-pandemic ways of working. It is therefore critical for government agencies to ensure that employees have access to tools, information, and people they need to stay connected and be productive.
Malcolm firmly believes that the future of employee experience will be hybrid. Improving uptime has real benefit and perception to employees is also possible with SaaS and cloud-based solutions and ones with a large marketplace like Zendesk. He shares that implementing these digital solutions would be efficient, given that almost everything was already online before the pandemic began, and that digital platforms are now the most important tool in hybrid working.
Ensuring that employee experience is a priority for businesses, just as customer experience is. An organisation’s approach and attitude to both these experiences will define the type of employer they are, impacting employee loyalty, motivation, and overall employee and customer satisfaction.
Are you on pins and needles to get back to the office, or are you a bit more hesitant? Our new Meeting Trends 2021 research uncovered 5 new trends for the hybrid workplace. One of them is that employees worldwide can’t wait to get back to the office. Read on to learn more about when and how we will be returning to the office.
When are we returning to the office? One year into the pandemic and the enthusiasm about working from home has taken a turn. At the start of the pandemic, many were over the moon about the benefits of WFH: no commutes, flexible work hours, etc.
However, our 2020 Hybrid Meeting research already showed that slowly but surely the downsides started to outweigh the benefits. Employees miss social interaction, experience Zoom fatigue and struggle to balance office and domestic tasks. Our Meeting Trends Research 2021 shows that 56% of employees are eager to return to the office, and 72% expects to be back by the end of June 2021.
When are we returning?
Right now, actually. 50% of the workforce already comes into the office on occasion. We do see some regional differences here. Australia and France appear to be at the forefront of the back-to-the-office trend, with respectively 82% and 61% of employees, having already (partially) returned. In India and the US, the majority of workers hasn’t returned yet, with respectively only 40% and 42% signalling that they are already back at the office. Most employees (72%) expect to be back by the end of June. However, in Germany, many employees believe that they will only be able to return from July to September and onwards.
Who is pushing the return?
C-level management is encouraging employees to come back, 66% of employees believe their CEO would like to see all employees back at the office. 41% also think their manager is also pushing them to return to the office. Employees themselves are also eager to return, on average 56% of employees want to get back to the office. In India, it’s even 76% of workers that are waiting to sit at their office desk again.
Will work at the office be the same?
Employees want to return but this doesn’t mean that they are ready to give up the newfound flexibility in their work that WFH brought. Workers want to choose when and where they work and are tired of struggling with virtual.
This leads to the ideal workweek balance shifting in favour of the office. In September 2020, people were still more optimistic about working from home and employees indicated that the ideal workweek would be 2 days at home and 3 days at the office.
Today, the desire to work from home has dropped to 1,5 days a week, with employees preferring to spend more time, 3,5 days per week, at the office.
Undoubtedly, in-office and remote team members will have to be united in the new hybrid workplace.
Lieven Bertier is the Segment Marketing Director Workplace at Barco.
Lieven is an experienced B2B marketer and has worked across multiple marketing disciplines in the technology industry. Since 2014 he has been part of Barco’s ClickShare team, responsible for all strategic marketing activities. He strongly believes in user experience and is convinced that the way people work together is the number one competitive advantage for companies in today’s dynamic world.
Lieven loves a good story, and always starts from user research to reflect on the role of technology and collaboration in the workplace.
In a 2020 report by PwC, 74% of CEOs stated they were concerned about the availability of key skills and of those, 32% admitted they were ‘extremely concerned’. To ensure a thriving future, companies are now required to invest in their workforce more than ever, upskilling and reskilling them to prepare them for new ways of working.
Upskilling is the process of improving a current skill set. It’s a vertical growth path towards optimised abilities and potential leadership in a specific field of expertise. On the other hand, reskilling focuses on entirely new abilities, preparing an individual for steering his or her career in a different direction.
There are numerous benefits to upskilling and reskilling, from improving a company´s long-term perspectives, increasing productivity and internal mobility, to ensuring talent retention and bringing new, like-minded talent.
For these efforts to be successful, employees need to be fully on board. It is not enough for companies to assess their needs, design learning paths and enrol employees. Managed incorrectly, both upskilling and reskilling can become complicated processes, met with resistance and can turn ineffective. That is why we have listed 5 tips to encourage your employees to upskill and reskill.
- START FROM THE TOP
Higher management does not only have an essential role in establishing a vision for the future of the company and the skills necessary for fulfilling it but is also indispensable when instilling a strong learning culture. Beginning with higher management, the mindset must pervade all layers of the company, onto people managers and down to every single employee.
Lead by example, ensuring that higher management and people managers are engaged in continuous learning. Encourage them to share their experience, their struggles and successes and to encourage their workforce to do the same. Involve the internal communication department and ensure that these messages are disseminated company-wide on a regular basis.
Further on, higher management and people managers can take an active role by participating in mentoring programs or 1 to 1 coaching, strengthening further the reskilling and upskilling strategy you are devising.
Getting management involved through all these means will support the creation of a culture of learning, beneficial not only for supporting a bright future for the company but also for attracting new talent. Younger generations are especially eager to learn and improve themselves and will be more willing to join a company with the same mindset.
- MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE AND INTERESTING
Are you aware of the learning format preferred by the workforce in your company? Whether they prefer full days of training or bitesize information, learning onsite or online, it is mandatory to consult them before starting to design learning paths. At Barco, we predict a future of work and, by consequence, of learning and development that is hybrid and blended.
The safest option is to create a flexible 360-degree learning environment, delivering learning content in multiple formats: instructor-led, be it online, onsite or hybrid, but also pre-recorded videos or e-books for individual learning. Make training material available on-demand and mobile-accessible to offer the opportunity to learn whenever convenient.
In live instructor-led training, turn sessions interactive – by using polls and quizzes – and collaborative – by using breakout rooms for teamwork and in-depth discussions. According to LinkedIn 2021 Workplace Learning Report, a staggering percentage of L&D professionals believe that employees who learn together are more successful (91%) and that it helps create a sense of belonging (92%).
- OPTIMISE LEARNING JOURNEYS
Once you have conducted research in your company to find out what kind of learning journeys your employees would like, then designed and rolled out the upskilling or reskilling programs, you will need to constantly track, measure and optimise.
Constantly review learning paths and register progress. Ask for regular feedback from both trainers and trainees by establishing several checkpoints along the journey.
According to the same report by LinkedIn, in the UK, 43% of L&D professionals are using different methods to determine how satisfied employees are with learning programs, including qualitative feedback, surveys, talent retention rates and company mobility rates.
Education technology can be of tremendous help, providing data and analytics of engagement, attention and interaction with the training material and other participants. The number of online courses completed and business metrics (deals closed, customer satisfaction, leads generated, etc.) before and after training as well as productivity increase can prove especially useful.
Assessing learning journeys and optimising them will make learning easier and more effective, and support talent acquires new skills or improve existing ones at a faster and more enjoyable pace.
- INCENTIVISE LEARNING
Incentivising employees is part of any company´s internal strategy. It helps employees feel more motivated, productive and valuable. That is why incentives should not be missed in the overall strategy for upskilling or reskilling workforces.
But what kind of incentives could be offered? Financial incentives or in-kind rewards can definitely prove useful but there are many other ways to show appreciation.
Gamify learning and give achievement badges or certificates that can easily be shared on LinkedIn or on internal social channels. Make sure you have top achievers put into the spotlight by their managers in team meetings, by higher management during regular company meetings or during end-of-the-year events.
Lastly, you can even feature them in internal campaigns in newsletters, interviews and articles to support that culture of learning so necessary in nowadays´ successful companies.
- PROMOTE WELLBEING
Increasingly uncertain times can take a toll on everyone´s mental health. When your workforce is worried about the stability of their job or the health of their loved ones, upskilling and reskilling can be more difficult and take longer. They remain crucial undertakings at both organisational and individual levels. How can L&D improve its employees´ capacity to learn?
Apart from creating a general sense of stability and calm regarding the future of the company and of their jobs, in what concerns wellbeing, Dr Guy Champniss, Head of Behavioural Science at engagement consultancy The Creative Engagement Group (CEG) advises to stay hydrated, get good sleep, eat healthy and manage stress.
Involve internal communication and HR and drive wellness campaigns. That can range from a regular newsletter with tips and tricks encouraging a healthy lifestyle, to more complex undertakings such as (virtual) yoga classes or workshops on stress management.
All these activities can improve your workforce´ ability to acquire new knowledge and will make your learning paths shorter and overall, your upskilling and reskilling efforts more effective.
BARCO WECONNECT SUPPORTS YOUR UPSKILLING AND RESKILLING EFFORTS
Barco weConnect supports the upskilling and reskilling efforts of your company. Our virtual classroom software solution is suitable for both remote and onsite training, hence perfect for flexible training. It offers a front-row experience to all participants, enabling fast and effective information acquirement. Participants can share content, break out in working groups, vote in polls and respond in quizzes. They will enjoy an engaging, interactive experience, across any device.
Furthermore, the data and analytics provided by our solution will help you adjust pedagogical methods, optimise future classes and consequently, enhance the upskilling and reskilling outcomes needed for securing a bright future for your company.
Jan van Houtte is the Vice President for Barco’s Learning Experience business unit. He works towards helping enterprises, business schools, and universities with the digitalisation and transformation of their training and education programmes. Jan believes in the power of technology to help faculty and trainers to increase engagement in their courses and trainings and to enable new and transformational use cases. Before leading the Learning Experience business unit, Jan held multiple product management positions in Barco and Philips.
In the world that we live in today, physical visits for government services seem like a distant memory with many of us accessing government services online through websites or mobile applications to get real-time support when needed. This is a remarkable development driven by the growing demands from increasingly digital-first citizens.
In Southeast Asia, a youthful population and a fast-growing middle class have given rise to a new generation of citizens who expect and crave superior digital experiences. However, government organisations in the region have not transformed quickly enough to meet the expectations of Southeast Asia’s digital-first citizens. To bridge this gap, we must adopt a holistic and comprehensive public-private partnership (PPP) model that will modernise Southeast Asia’s digital infrastructure to accelerate growth for the region as the global economy starts its post-pandemic recovery in earnest.
In VMware’s recent Digital Frontiers 3.0 study, we found that 78% of Southeast Asians consider themselves to be digitally curious or digital explorers who are ready for digital experiences. But at the same time, 68% of them also worried their older relatives won’t be able to keep up in this new digital world and have access to the services they require.
As the stewards of economies, the important task of building a digitally inclusive society has fallen on the shoulders of the governments. With 41% of respondents in the region saying that they trust the government in raising the personal levels of their digital literacy, Southeast Asia’s governments have responded accordingly with digital literacy campaigns such as Singapore’s Digital for Life movement Thailand’s Digital Literacy for Education Equality which aim at enhancing digital access to all citizens.
However, to truly move the needle on bridging digital gaps and fostering trust amongst citizens, government organizations will need to work hand in hand with leading private organizations to achieve these ambitious targets. As responsible members of the community, private sector organizations need to play a part in building a digitally inclusive society in Southeast Asia. For instance, VMware introduced its Getting Future Ready program to help Singaporeans deepen their expertise and specialization in next-generation technologies, and in turn, building a future-ready workforce in Singapore.
Enablers of a future-forward digital society
Trust and citizen-led innovations will become the bedrock of digitally enabled societies. In Southeast Asia, we have the advantage, with 42% of citizens indicating that they are happy to engage with the Government through digital means. However, more must be done to deliver better digital experiences that will move the needle for deeper and more impactful digital citizen interactions.
One way forward is the integration of technologies of the future where consumers have expressed trust in 5G (78%), connected devices (77%) and facial recognition (75%). Government agencies have also started on this venture with new digital offerings and services such as Singapore’s SingPass application, the Philippines’ biometric national ID and more.
While Southeast Asian citizens are digitally savvy, at least one in two (57%) still feel paranoid that organisations are tracking and recording what they do on their devices. This issue of privacy is a very valid one and government organisations in the region must work hard to assure citizens how their data is being used and stored. The VMware Digital Frontiers 3.0 study also revealed that less than half (41%) of Southeast Asian citizens say that the government has given assurance that their personal information is secure. It is thus critical for government organisations in the region to provide citizens with the assurance that their personal information is safe and secure.
A close partnership with private organisations will help spearhead conversations around these critical societal issues. While the public agencies can ensure that the necessary digital regulations are in place to safeguard citizens’ interests and encourage businesses to participate in these industry conversations, private organisations can also tap on the robust digital infrastructure and policies to harness data, accelerate innovations and agility for the regional economy.
Sustaining a resilient and digitally inclusive Southeast Asia
A digital-first Southeast Asia will ensure the development of a resilient and inclusive, innovation-led economy that lay the foundations for the long-term prosperity of the region. And this is only possible when governments adopt a holistic and comprehensive approach to deliver superior digital experiences across any cloud, any application and any device, in a seamless and secure manner to their citizens.
While organisations were focused on responding and adapting to the pandemic to ensure business continuity in 2020, 2021 marks a turning point with innovation becoming a priority for future-ready organisations looking to accelerate their growth. Now is the time for public and private sectors to join hands in harnessing technology to build a digitally inclusive and enabled society, and help Southeast Asia move collectively towards a digital-first future.