Key Takeaways from the Innovate SA 2022 Showcase

Covid has accelerated the need for change

While covid has accelerated what was already an increasing demand for digital services from the constituent, 80% of the attendees in the CX and Digital stream felt that they were at the beginning or at the strategizing stage of their CX and digital journey. Both frightening and exciting when you see how far things have come since the start of the pandemic. But also, a reminder of the journey that lays ahead of us.

When the main audience was asked what the priorities for the next 12 to 24 months the answers told us there is a lot on the immediate horizon. Becoming more data driven in decision making, advancing workplace culture and upskilling, investing in digital and transformation and automation were all strong responses. The diversity and complexity of these different initiatives is huge and, we believe, will place organisations under increasing pressure.

Work needs to be delivered differently

A lot of the work completed in Covid, driven and accelerated by necessity, has opened our ideas to not only what’s possible and how we can do things differently. Many of the speaker spoke of the need to shift away from an end-solution based approach and to adopt an iterative and continuous approach to delivery. Waiting for the finished product is no longer an option and government must be embracing the concept of building and delivering iteratively.

CX and Digital – a little bit art, a little bit science and a lot of everything

What’s needed from government to leverage digital to create new customer experiences is truly everything it has got. It needs data and insights to understand what’s happened and predict what may occur. It needs psychology and human centred design so that behaviours can be understood. Intuition and empathy can’t be forgotten else the very nature of what makes us human might come as a surprise. It needs technology and the technologists to serve as a source of inspiration and innovation. Great Leadership and vision, in all of this, are needed to help keep our sights set on the end game.

No wonder the ownership of designing the CX experience, when the audience was asked, was confused. When asked who owned the CX experience, the main responses from participants in the stream were IT, Unclear, CX Team, Executive and my personal favourite, Everyone. Also, strong answers were Project Teams, Marketing, Service Design and Communications. Ownership it seems is not very clear and is a little bit of everyone. But maybe it should be.

The CX and digital journey is unmistakably a multi-disciplinary approach. Its vast and broad and needs every part of your agency involved. Maybe because of the depth and breadth needed to get this right, we need to be thinking about new cross functional teams or functions and maybe we haven’t quite nutted this out fully yet.

People – the inspiration, the challenge

Having attended the recent PSN Future of Work event there really is a perfect people storm on our horizons. Staff are burnt out, they are restless, the goal posts on expectations have shifted and if anything, it seems that the efforts achieved in Covid has just increased the expected workload.

This, while we are in a period of one of the greatest skills shortages we have seen. And if you’re lucky and have the skills, staff don’t want to work for us in the ways we have understood in the past or that we fully understand now. As agencies we are being told we need to become the employer of choice, and this, in itself, can mean a massive amount of work for our existing people as new policies and environments are created to respond.

People really are our greatest challenge. And you confirmed that when I asked you what your number one challenge was in digital and CX. You told us People and Skills and Resources. In fact, workplace talent retention and attraction (at 51%) was seen as the biggest issue facing the SA Public Sector – period. You also told us that money was the second biggest issue. So even if you could get more people, you can’t afford them anyhow. The third biggest challenge was engagement. Well, that can mean lots of things, but its all about people and generally how they feel about work. As I said, people are our greatest challenge. Unfortunately, there are no quick answers here, mostly because they don’t exist. We do see though, this is going to be a period of great organisational transformation as every business, government and private alike, shape shift to a new way of operating.

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