Cloud has been fundamental to delivering flexible, rapid public services throughout the pandemic. NHS Scotland, for instance, has built a cloud-based platform to coordinate the colossal rollout of Covid-19 vaccines for 4.5 million citizens.

The system collects data from local clinics, vaccination centers and regional health boards to automate the booking process and streamline vaccine delivery. This platform was built in just six weeks with the help of ServiceNow.

The new standard for public services relies on technology that can enable government agencies to be agile and responsive to citizen needs. Citizens expect great service and employees want to be enabled to do their best work. Bob Osborn, Chief Technology Officer, Global Governments, ServiceNow, shares three secrets to success for digital transformation in the cloud.

Think about user-centricity

Organisations are investing big in digital transformation projects. Digital workflows can pay off in big ways, but it’s crucial to have the end goal in mind, Osborn emphasises. Predicting what services citizens need and delighting them with personalised, digital experiences, is the “end stage”, he believes.

For example, when a citizen logs into a portal of an agency, services should be personalised and relevant to the individuals’ preferences. The site can offer a citizen suggestions on services that may be relevant, based on other users with similar patterns of behaviour. This is the next generation of citizen services, Osborn says.

Singapore’s LifeSG mobile app and New Zealand’s SmartStart have done this by providing users with relevant services for their current stage of life.

To do this well, silos between agencies to be broken down, Osborn says. Agencies have made “significant technological investments” that work well within the department or agency. But data needs to be shared across different ministries to deliver personalised services.

ServiceNow can help by integrating data from multiple siloed systems, he adds. The platform also comes with in-built automation and AI capabilities that helps employees make decisions more quickly.

Visibility over the environment

Many government agencies now work in a hybrid computing environment, says Osborn. Some systems are on premise in a data center, while others are in a commercial cloud provider. Visibility is the “secret sauce” to making digital transformation successful, he adds.

Knowing who is accessing each computing environment, what applications are being accessed, and for how long provides agencies with usage data. That can “shine light” on on-premise applications that may not be used as often as those in the cloud.

This visibility also helps management understand which applications are delivering results, and better target investments so the IT environment can run more efficiently.

ServiceNow provides access visibility for applications and tracks changes via a fully traceable log, Osborn says. That puts agencies in a “much stronger position” to secure the entire environment.

Implement security controls

With staff working remotely, it’s “crucial” to understand identity, control and access management, says Osborn. Agencies must have visibility and control over who has access to sensitive data.

Multi-factor authentication or single sign on tools ensure the person logging into sensitive systems are employees – and that they do not get unauthorised access to other databases, he adds.

Those are “very complex” controls agencies were planning to implement in the future, but they weren’t prepared to doduring the pandemic.

ServiceNow consolidates these controls on a single platform, which also gives agencies access to technologies such as AI and machine learning, Osborn says. These tools can analyse patterns of abnormal behaviour – providing a “much more informed picture” of what’s happening and how the environment can be secured.

ServiceNow’s cloud architecture gives users the control to run their own applications with their own databases. That differs from other cloud platforms, where several users use a single application with a single database.

That gives users “unparalleled access control” over their data, and the assurance that only its staff has access to the information, Osborn says.

Digital transformation is fundamental to meet the challenges of tomorrow. User-centricity, security, and visibility are crucial as more governments embrace the cloud for its agility, flexibility and scalability.