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Automation and, in particular, Artificial intelligence (AI) remain some of the most controversial and feared manifestations of Digital Transformation as the technological landscape continues to advance at breakneck speed. Unprecedented opportunities to enhance service delivery, optimise operations, foster growth, and drive change are all driven in some way by automated systems or machine learning and AI. This ‘progress’ seems to loom over most of us, particularly those in our teams who perceive this increasing automation as a threat to their livelihoods, like a ghoul we can’t quite feel comfortable enough to welcome in yet. We have seen decisions made, imagery manipulated, and content curated on a whole new level, all of which leaves us wondering, how is this impacting your mental health as well as that of your team members?

As organisations look to increasingly deploy and exploit AI as a key element of their digital transformation toolkit, they often encounter significant challenges that can and inevitably will impact end users, their workforce and the broader societal fabric. At BetterGov, we are committed to mapping and navigating these challenges in a manner that genuinely benefits organisations, employees, and citizens alike.

The Impact of AI on end users and the workforce

AI’s influence is and will be felt across every conceivable touchpoint, from improving customer service with chatbots to enhancing decision-making processes through data analytics. For end users, AI promises yet greater always-on’ convenience ‘, greater efficiency and increasingly personalised experiences. In public sector environments such as healthcare and education, AI can tailor services to individual needs and moments, making interactions more relevant and impactful and theoretically freeing up critical human resources for more vital tasks. AI-powered services are, however, frighteningly human-like for some, particularly the older generation, and many find the prospect of widespread human redundancy and accumulated years of study becoming null and void alarming. 

Those in the workforce impacted directly by automation and AI face a dual-edged sword. Whilst AI can relieve frustrated employees from routine, time-consuming tasks, allowing them to focus on more complex and creative work,  it also poses very real risks, such as job displacement at those operational levels and the sometimes frightening need for employees to rapidly gain new skills and absorb new processes, often for the first time in their working lives. This level of uncertainty necessitates a thoughtful approach to managing the transition AND the culture of the organisation, ensuring that employees understand the reasons for change, can see benefits and opportunities for them and their customers and are equipped and ready for the changes brought by new technologies, sure of and secure in their role within their organisation. 

Challenges in managing digital transformation

Delivering and managing digital transformation is fraught with a range of challenges. Vast budgets are set aside for selecting and integrating new technologies, and a veritable army of consultants and advisors are on hand to map the operating models and processes made possible by this marvellous transformation. Where we often see the attention waver (and the funds dry up) is in the critical yet taken-for-granted area, which we could broadly refer to as ‘people’, Ensuring that the integration of new technologies aligns with organisational goals but without marginalising the human aspect has become a key factor in transformation strategies. Ensuring that the Artificial Intelligence being put at the heart of your decision-making doesn’t become Artificial Ignorance is largely down to how your people interact with new technologies and accept new processes. To mitigate this risk, there are some key challenges to consider in your organisation…

  • Ethical Considerations: As AI systems make more decisions, ethical concerns such as bias, transparency and accountability become paramount. Ensuring that AI systems are fair and equitable is crucial in maintaining employee and public trust.
  • Skill Gaps: The rapid deployment of AI technologies will inevitably widen the skills gap, leaving many employees behind. Organisations must map future employee experiences and needs and invest in appropriate continuous learning and development to keep their workforce relevant and engaged.
  • Cultural Resistance: Changes, especially those driven by technology, often face resistance. Cultivating a culture that universally shares an organisational vision, views new skills as desirable, embraces innovation and views technology and AI as an enabler rather than a disruptor is essential.
What are we doing at BetterGov?

We believe that managing digital transformation is not just about adopting new technologies but doing so in a way that enhances the lives of everyone involved. Here’s how we are making a difference:

  1. Ethical AI Use: We prioritise developing and implementing AI within a moral framework that promotes transparency and accountability. Our AI solutions are designed to complement human abilities and ensure fair outcomes for all users.
  2. Fostering Skills Development: Understanding the importance of adaptability in the age of AI, we focus on up-skilling and re-skilling employees. Our programmes are tailored to articulate benefits, bridge skill gaps and prepare the workforce for future demands, ensuring a smooth transition and reducing anxiety associated with digital changes.
  3. Inclusive Transformation: Our approach to digital transformation is holistic and inclusive, ensuring no stakeholder is left behind. From planning to execution, we engage with all levels of an organisation, including its key stakeholders, partners, and customers, to understand and address their unique needs and concerns.
  4. Community and Citizen Focus: We will always prioritise the needs of citizens and communities and ensure that our digital transformation projects enhance accessibility, efficiency and satisfaction. Our AI-driven solutions are designed to be user-friendly and to promote greater civic engagement and satisfaction.

Our commitment to ‘better’ digital transformation revolves around a balanced approach that benefits not just the organisation but also its employees and the citizens it serves. We militantly interrogate whether something new is tangibly and genuinely better. By focusing on ethical practices, continuous learning, inclusive strategies and community-centred solutions, we pave the way for a future where technology truly serves humanity. This approach not only mitigates the challenges associated with digital transformation but also maximises the potential benefits of AI, creating a more efficient, responsive, and equitable world.

Authored by Graham Halling

Graham has over two decades of client-side and advisory experience across digital transformation, marketing technology and strategic business consultancy, enabling public and private sector clients to leverage technology for both immediate gain and future strategic growth. Graham is a key component of BetterGov’s mission to drive technology adoption, improve customer experiences and foster open innovation environments.