AI and the Future of Government Service

Predictions based on big data and machine learning will define large parts of our lives including governments mapping journeys on how to provide enhanced services for residents and citizens

Originally published on the Government Experience portal on February 10, 2019 

By Xische Editorial, February 10, 2019

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Adapting government services for the digital age requires a multi-faceted and evolving approach unlike anything in the history of governance. People are on the move and accustomed to hyper-personalized services that are able to predict their next move or request. This shift in consumer personality is due in large measure to the streamlining of processes through data.

Big data allows companies like Google to offer tailored services and perfect algorithms that can predict customer demands. To create better services, governments have to mimic these platforms and revolutionize their offering. One of the best ways to get started with this daunting task is through a measured embrace of artificial intelligence (AI).

While AI can mean a lot of things depending on who you ask, its use definition for the government services is relatively straightforward: AI systems can help governments free up employees’ time to deliver more personalized experiences. The goal is to tailor services for customers in ways that are cognizant of their busy lives and specific needs.

Using AI to streamline processes – which can be as simple as preparing background data to expedite a process – can empower government employees to better focus on the customer and ensure an excellent customer experience. Once in place, efficient AI systems can start to predict what customers will want and how best to deliver results. The goal will always be to streamline the process to allow for greater attention on the customer.  

We can see this AI application already in use in the finance sector. Instead of having employees crunch numbers for routine offerings like loan decisions, banks are increasingly using AI systems to make such decisions. This gives employees more time with their customers and generally results in a faster user experience. Naturally, final decisions are left to human employees but this application of AI reveals the myriad opportunities the technology offers in customer service environments. Some governments are also experimenting with using AI to recruit employees. According to Forbes, governments can use AI to adopt recruiting automation technology that streamlines candidate sources and mitigates unconscious bias in the recruitment process. Additionally, AI can greatly help government services sectors with cybersecurity and threat identification.

Think about the knock-on effects of investment in AI systems for services. Governments would need to increase the amount of data they have about residents and citizens in order for AI to reach its full potential. This would mean services could be better tailored to people’s needs. With the extra information, decisions about allocation of services would be easier and, perhaps more importantly, faster.

With the right AI systems in place, efficiency will also increase across the services sector. AI platforms can identify weaknesses and inefficiencies in how departments function without any human bias. As such, quick evaluations carried out by AI systems can have a profound return on investment when it comes to maximizing efficiency and thus offering the best product possible.

With AI integration as a goal, prediction will start to define the services sector. Governments will understand the needs of their citizens on such an intimate level that they will be able to accurately predict the needs of customers before they can articulate them. While this might sound dystopian on a certain level, prediction already defines large areas of the AI sector. Google’s free email service, Gmail, unveiled so-called smart replies in 2018. These replies are based on machine learning and amount to little more than prediction in email.

The direction of travel is unavoidable and clear. Prediction based on big data and machine learning will define large parts of our lives including in how governments provide services for residents and citizens. This development will allow governments to focus on building customer journeys, based on personas and needs that are informed by data, to simplify services and create experiences.

Artificial intelligence is becoming smarter and better integrated in our daily lives at an astonishing rate. It is the right time for governments around the world to embrace the technology and figure out the best way to use AI for the benefit of residents. When it comes to services, AI systems will enable efficient delivery of services in a predictive manner. The possibilities are endless and the next great innovation could be right around the corner.