Kathy Gibson is at Saphila in Sun City – Government has a specific mission: to protect the community, provide services and help the economy to prosper.

The best governments in the world put the citizen at the centre of their planning  and implementation, says Dante Ricci, head of marketing: public sector and smart cities at SAP.

However, governments struggle with a number of challenges, not least of them being that societal stability and sustainable growth are at risk.

Nowadays, citizens are used to personalised applications from companies that are easy to use, Ricci points out.

Governments struggle to give them the experience they now expect because much of the information they have is siloed, so it’s almost impossible for governments to get a 360-degree view of citizens.

At the same time, trust in government is at an all-time low around the world, which stymies attempts to gather more information.

As a result of these challenges, governments are having to adopt new paradigms in their business models and processes, Ricci says. This means changing the citizen engagement paradigm to proactive, expansive services.

Once they start using predictive policy and decision-making, this will unlock new opportunities as well.

There are certain themes emerging from governments around the world, Ricci adds.

He believes that putting citizens at the centre of policy and planning has to be the norm for success in the digital age.

Leveraging data as an asset is also vital – although this is easier said than done. Governments have to transform policy development, planning, service delivery and measurement outcomes while acquiring the ability to collect and connect data that was previously siloed, use that data to recognise unseen patterns, and act accordingly.

For governments to be more efficient it’s necessary for them to re-imagine business processes and models, Ricci says.

This will give them the ability to respond faster to changes in a world of disruption and pivot business processes to better deliver the right outcomes.

Leading public sector organisations use digital technologies to create an intelligent enterprise, he adds.

In fact, by 2023, 55% of national governments will deploy edge intelligence and perform initial data processing from Internet of Things (IoT), networks, and other devices at the point of action to enable timely decisions.

Meanwhile, 51% of public sector organisations have already moved a large percentage of their business processes to the cloud.

Ricci points out that the idea should be to optimise existing processes for better reliability and efficiency; extend current business processes beyond efficiency; and transform the processes.

There are numerous example of how government departments have used technology to transform the public sector value chain and business models.

Going forward, the concept of the digital citizen will help to break down silos while extending citizens’ trust in governments.

Currently, citizens have to repeatedly fill out the same data for different departments. At the same time, government officials need to garner accurate, trusted data.

Using blockchain could be a solution that replaces less secure data sharing methods by using the distributed ledger to reduce fraudulent activity, while simultaneously increasing transparency and improving the citizen experience.

Intelligent payments is another potential application.