The 7 technology types that help support personalization of government services

Technologies that add value and ones that control costs are some innovations that can benefit a government in providing personalized services to citizens.

Personalization of services

When your needs are properly and carefully catered to, it provides a sense of trust between a supplier and its customer. But how personalized do services have to be in order to maintain satisfactory levels of service? The public sector has always provided services to individuals and dealt with individual queries. According to a 2012 IPSOS MORI market research study conducted in nine countries, surveyed citizens responded that two of the top three priorities for governments should be “to better understand the needs of citizens and communities,” and to “make sure that services are tailored to the needs of people who are using them.”


Figure: Personalization of services (Source: CIFS Analysis, 2014; OECD, 2006)

Of the 12 trends affecting the future of public sector and public sector outsourcing, the personalization trend deals with directly meeting evolving needs of customers. As such, it is important for solutions to enable users to be involved in service identification, selection development and delivery phases. A key challenge for public service leaders will be to provide services along the “light – heavy personalization” spectrum (see figure above). On the “light” side of the personalization spectrum, governments can offer modestly customized mass-produced, standardized services to partially adapt them to user needs. On the “heavy” side of the personalization spectrum, governments would give users a far greater role and responsibility for identifying, selecting, developing, designing, implementing and delivering solutions from the ground up.

Examples of “light” personalization could include 24/7 call centres, system to view booked appointments or timely access to standardized services. Examples of “heavy” personalization include development of individualized service plans for individuals’ and families with special needs. This also includes allowing and promoting greater capacity for self-management and self-organization.

Harnessing technology and other innovation

In order to fulfil the personalization of services ambition, governments not only need to make a change from service providers to that of a service facilitator, broker or commissioner; they need to transition “from s-government to i-government”. S-government is characterized by large-scale, standardized solutions. These solutions are driven by major institutions’ needs to derive economies of scale. I-government solutions focus on developing more intelligent, interactive solutions that focus on individual user needs.

According to research conducted by McKinsey, there are several technologies being developed that support the personalisation of government services. These technologies can be deployed independently or in combination; they include:

Technologies that add value:

1. Social technologies: Social technologies allow companies to analyse the value that consumers attach to components of current or hypothetical “virtual” solutions;

2. Online interactive configurators: Advances in speed and “adaptivity” of configuration and visualization software have made service configuration an engaging experience;

3. 3-D scanning and modeling: Scanning software that gathers exact measurements in seconds or minutes, which can then be rendered into an online personalized 3-D model. The accuracy of the resulting measurements is often even better than those of and from hand measuring;

4. Recommendation engines: Recommendation engines help customers configure services by using popular choices users of the site have made before. These choices can be edited by the government provider to reduce risks to users;

5. Smart algorithms for dynamic pricing: A key challenge in managing the personalisation of services is managing on-demand capacity by using smart algorithms and better data processing capacity to interpret big data and enable dynamic pricing. Demand could be managed for services that take less time to complete and increased for those that take longer. An example of this phenomenon already exists in dynamic road pricing.

Technologies for controlling costs:

6. Enterprise and production software: A number of companies have developed packaged software that enables tracking of individualized design features in customer orders, as well as their translation into sourcing and production instructions. These tools connect the front-end with the production and Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems so that staff knows what to provide. Customers are also promised realistic lead times and progress updates, and are assured that they are not served up any options that cannot be supplied in realistic time frames. It can also be expected that the Internet of Things will change the world of FM with more tools to battle increasing labour costs, as well as collaborative networking systems.

7. Flexible production systems: Manufacturing, supply-chain, and logistics functions will benefit from the broad penetration of digital sensors and smart tags that will offer greater potential for visibility, flexibility, and control of product flows, as well as for the automation of tasks that enhance value. The challenge for government and their supporting outsourcing and third sector providers is two-fold. First, they have to work together to develop processes that create value for the customer and overcome optimization and transformation issues challenging the public sector; supported by smooth, swift, and inexpensive transactions for both consumers and producers. Second, they will have to develop and achieve a manageable cost structure and cost level for producers even as service complexity increases.

Do you have recommendations of other types of technologies that governments should utilize for the personalization of services? Share them in the comments below!

This blog post is based on the ISS 2020 Vision: Future of Public Sector Outsourcing whitebook.