When you finish streaming a movie online, an algorithm uses your data—your viewing, browsing and search history—to anticipate what you might enjoy watching next.

Internet search tools and online retailers then use this digital information to suggest what you want, when you want it, saving you the time and the trouble. When it comes to the business of government, however, many agencies have not yet adopted this digital-first mindset.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a government agency could give you what you need when you need it?  Like, Hi, Al. The school year ends in a couple months. Click here to find summer camps and licensed child care providers in your area.

As the pandemic has shown us, it is entirely possible—even practical—for states to embrace a future where delivering services can be as easy and commonplace as deciding what to watch next on TV.

Over the past year and a half, with many offices closed to the public for extended periods, many government agencies made progress by digitizing their front-end services. However, few had the opportunity to directly tackle the challenge of re-engineering their underlying systems, processes and operations.

This next phase of innovation will be even more crucial. A recent Deloitte survey on trust in government found that people who are pleased with the digital services their state government provides also tend to rate the state highly when it comes to trust.

That’s because people tend to trust organizations that feel physically close to them. By design, digital services bring distant agencies closer, creating a direct, and important, interaction between a government and the constituents it serves.

As government leaders explore another round of digital transformation, they can learn from others’ experience.

The Indiana Family & Social Services Administration consolidated three outdated technology systems into one modern system that determines Hoosiers’ eligibility for a range of benefits. The new system streamlined business processes, improved information access, and enhanced security. It also laid the foundation for a better user experience and more digital customer engagement like e-alerts that notify Hoosiers about updates to their Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF benefits.  

Obviously, being digital requires continuous change and innovation; it’s not a once-and-done effort. Technologies like AI, cyber and cloud can be implemented to further elevate Hoosiers’ government experience, strengthen data security, scale systems to meet demand, and relieve workers of time-consuming tasks.

We must also invest in developing the talent that’s needed to make this change and innovation happen. Indiana is on the right track here. Last fall, the Indiana University Board of Trustees approved a new Bachelor of Arts degree in artificial intelligence—the first to be offered in the United States. Degree programs like this help create a talent pipeline for the next generation of AI experts to drive further digital enhancements.

There is no question, the pandemic accelerated everyone’s digital awareness; it was no different for government agencies. COVID-19 prompted many to become digital as they embedded digital technologies deep into their organizations for everything from work-from-home guidelines to virtual court hearings.

Even with the breakneck pace at which systems were updated over the past 18 months, more work is required to truly be digital and use technology like AI, cyber and cloud to elevate the human experience and transform both service delivery and back-office operations.

An ongoing commitment to government’s digital transformation can help lead the way as Indiana’s economic engines come roaring back to life. And someday soon on the digital horizon, Hoosiers can realize the same ease and convenience from government services that they get from other modern businesses.

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