Supporting Efficiency in Government with Emerging Technologies

The public sector has shown great innovation in achieving a higher performance and an exceptional culture by adopting technologies which have delivered improvements in other industries. However the sector faces its own series of unique regulation based challenges, which can add complications to implementing improvements.  OpenSky Data System’s Michael Cronin and Manuel Tomas explain.

The Current State of Digital Government

The complexity alone of securing citizens’ information from within the vast volume of government agencies and organisational silos between departments, is a challenge in itself which can only be achieved with sophisticated technology and business innovation.

Governments are making great progress in their transition to the digital world. According to the Public Service ICT Strategy published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2015, “the new strategy would deliver better outcomes and efficiency through innovation and excellence in ICT”.

However, four years after the strategy was introduced, some of the greatest challenges still lie ahead for government. While much progress has been made to enable citizens with access to many government digital channels, the true potential of digital government stands unexploited today versus the plans outlined in the strategy in 2015, such as:

  • Many end-to-end digital services are still not available;
  • Many of the existing digital services are still not optimised for mobile devices;
  • Most departments are still struggling to comply with GDPR legislation;
  • Customer service still relies totally or partially on call centres which are not facilitated by an always-on service. We need to meet the demands of current day customer/citizen expectations for a 24-7-365 service; and
  • The functionality and user experiences of government online services are usually poor compared to commercial organisations who have set the expectation to customers, of a user friendly, efficient and functional platform.

The Need for Platform Modernisation

In today’s digital era, keeping up with shifting consumer expectations and providing them with the low-friction and straightforward experiences they crave, is a massive challenge that most public and private organisations face. Often, the problem lies in the fact that due to platform constraints, many companies are slow or even incapable of deploying the digital technologies that consumers already expect and have adopted in their day-to-day lives.

Many citizen transactions are still supported by old systems and platforms that lack the flexibility, scalability, extendibility and interoperability to deliver the digital channels needed for 24/7 citizen access as well as ensuring that customer interactions are not only more efficient, but also have a strong focus on delivering exceptional experiences.

Therefore, in order to meet the increasing demands and expectations of more experienced digital users, public service departments need to go beyond digitising processes and services and leverage the power of digital technologies and data to improve efficiency and transform their business models.

However, when providing scalable, sustainable and future-proofed upgrades as well as replacements of obsolete case management systems, a major challenge for any government or large enterprise organisation is how to perform the upgrade without system disruption and with minimum impact over the business.

Automating Information Classification and Regulatory Compliance

Traditionally, implementing a successful enterprise search has always been a challenge. Search relies on classification and more so on consistent classification. Relying on a manual classification process managed by end users, has never worked and it never will.

In today’s digital world, consuming information has crossed application and service boundaries to the extent that it has an impact on security, enterprise content management, migration, text analytics, collaboration, compliance and information governance. Most agencies are still unprepared to address data protection, security breaches and data leaks as well as complying with the requirements of GDPR. And most, focus primarily on perimeter security even though a high percentage of data breaches are caused by internal stakeholders.

In order to increase productivity and decision making while reducing costs and so importantly, ensuring compliance is maintained across the Public Sector, having all content (structured, semi-structured and unstructured) auto-classified and available in a single search index is paramount.

By investing in a platform that automatically generates metadata and makes it available to search engines, enterprise content management systems and a line of business applications and which also leverages intelligent metadata enabled solutions for data privacy, protection of confidential information and eDiscovery – public sector agencies will be empowered to:

  • Eliminate end user tagging, reducing errors, rework, and time;
  • Create a virtual centralisation through the ability to link disparate on-premises and off-premises content repositories, improving decision making via the retrieval of all relevant information in a single interface;
  • Enable concept-based searching for information;
  • Ensure all privacy data vulnerabilities are identified across diverse repositories such as scanned documents and e-mails;
  • Notify data exposures in real time;
  • Automatically protect content that contains a potential data breach;
  • Enable quick implementation to address regulatory changes while avoiding fines and audits; and
  • Minimise end user training.

Preparing for 2020 and Beyond

While process automation platforms have been around since the beginning of this century, there has been a more recent increase in general adoption across industries with the emergence of Robotic Process Automation.

Contact centres are a great example of how RPA can be used to increase efficiency, a great fit for RPA since they rely on a number of different systems and applications to process a high volume of repetitive tasks.

Customer representatives need to understand a customer’s intent and carry out a series of actions that involve switching between systems and apps to find the required information and in turn, inform/direct the customer. The result of this process however, is an increase in the duration of the interaction that wastes resources while creating customer dissatisfaction.

By identifying frequent customer queries and analysing the tasks that the representative needs to perform in response, an RPA solution can be built to facilitate those actions by totally or partially automating those tasks.

Take this a step further by combining a virtual agent and a robot, in which the virtual agent interacts with the customer to gather the necessary data and triggers the robot to perform the actions. This method would only require intervention of a human when a negative sentiment in the conversation is detected or when dealing with a person who has explicitly requested to deal with a customer service representative.

Using AI to Drive Citizen Engagement

A no-code, AI driven virtual agent can handle most citizen interactions to improve productivity, reduce workloads and create positive experiences by guiding citizens to the right solution every time.

Benefits of AI driven virtual agents include:

Connectivity: connecting to different APIs, business applications and escalate seamlessly to human agents, virtual agents can create great citizen experiences that evolves and learns with context;

Deflection: free up human agents to work on high-value interactions by deflecting routine queries to a lower cost channel like chat;

Dialog: provide quicker response times with guided users interaction;

Intelligence: handle complex service interactions quickly and effectively through rich conversations driven by AI which provides them the ability to understand voice, language, intent, sentiment, image; and

Interoperability: trigger back-end process automation workflows and automation robots.

“Chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion annually by 2022, up from $20 million in 2017” (Juniper Research).

“Chatbots will power 85 per cent of all customer service interactions by the year 2020” (Gartner).

Choosing the Right Partner

When considering investing in modernisation of your case management system, choosing the right partner with deep technical expertise, industry understanding, tools and methodologies, is essential for the success of the development project. Furthermore, choosing a partner with business expertise is equally (if not more) important, to equip you with the multitude of scenarios and eventualities that lie ahead of such undertaking such an extensive project.

An effective upgrade does not end with a single migration project, continuous evolution should be the goal of any organisation in maintaining their system for process automation. It is essential to keep software systems up to date to enhance organisational performance and drive productivity. Up to date software ensures that critical and sensitive business information remains secure, decreasing risks of security breaches and reputation damage.

OpenSky Gov-Tech business expertise has transformed over 50 public sector bodies in Ireland & the UK. Within transport, waste, housing & health, our systems impact 2.5m people every day and manage 100m digital transactions every month in Government.

OpenSky Data Systems
T: +353 (0) 45 855 675





Barry Doyle

Since graduating with an MSc in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in 1994 Barry has worked as a GIS / IT professional and business consultant in various roles in both the public and private sector in Ireland. With over 13 years’ experience working as a Project Leader in the Irish Local Government Sector Barry has been responsible for leading and delivering various innovative projects at both a Local Authority and Sectoral level with a particular focus on Digital Transformation, Geographical Information Systems, Information Management and Open Data.

Prior to joining Galway County Council in November 2018 Barry championed, defined and led the Digital Transformation Programme in Roscommon Country Council with the overall aim of embracing opportunities presented by ongoing advances in the digital technologies, broadband availability and capacity, and Cloud based enterprise solutions to transform how the Council provides services to, and interacts with, the citizens it serves. In line with this Barry completed a Special Certificate in Designing Innovative Services with Cork Institute of Technology in 2018.


Gemma Garvan

Gemma Garvan is Director of Informatics at St James’s Hospital in Dublin which last year became the first digital acute hospital in Ireland, which is the start of a landmark change for how care is delivered.  Gemma is an experienced Health Informatics Leader with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital and health care industry.  Prior to taking up her role at St James’s Hospital in 2018 she was Head of Access to Information at Healthlink. Gemma began work as an analyst programmer with The National Healthlink Project and moved into a project management role over a decade ago. Gemma has a BSc in computer science and software engineering and an MA from Trinity College in Dublin.

Barry Lowry

Barry Lowry is CIO for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, a position he was appointed to in 2016. He is tasked with delivering the Public Service ICT Strategy. Prior to 2016, he spent almost 35 years in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) on work ranging from the programming of mainframe computers to operating as a team leader in the design of client server systems. For the five years prior to his appointment, Lowry was the director who oversaw the establishment of ICT shared services in NICS. He also operated as the Head of Profession for ICT. In 2011 he was voted the Northern Ireland IT Professional of the Year by his associates.

Kieran O’Hea

A native of Cork, Kieran O’Hea is Leicester City Council’s Head of Smart Cities, where he is leading the implementation of a Smart City Strategy that is city-needs led and demand-driven. He was formerly Chief Digital Officer of Brisbane, where he led the development of the city’s digital economy strategy. Before focusing on city strategies, Kieran led the development of digital strategies for a number of government agencies in Dublin. He has also worked for the European Commission, developing funding programmes in the area of digital content.

Donal Spellman

Donal Spellman is Principal Officer, Digital Services Channel at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. He joined the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in 2010 working initially in employment support policy and then as a Divisional Manger before moving to the Digital Service Division in 2016. Donal has a keen interest in service design & building online services around customer need.  Experience in other Departments including the Department of Finance, Agriculture and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General concentrated around policy formation and public policy and expenditure evaluation.

Tim Willoughby

Tim Willoughby is Head of Digital Services and Innovation at An Garda Síochána. He was formerly CTO of the LGMA, with over 20 years in a number of Senior Management and Technical Roles in the Local Government Sector. He has been working in the Public service for almost 28 years. Tim has a Civil Engineering Degree from TCD and a Masters in Innovation from the University of Ulster.

Moyagh Murdock

Moyagh Murdock has been in the transport sector for over 20 years in various capacities. Currently, Moyagh is the Chief Executive Officer at the Road Safety Authority. In her early career she spent 10 years in the airline industry having worked at Bombardier in Belfast as an aircraft systems engineer. She was then Chief Operating Officer for Bus Éireann having joined the Company in 2007 as the Deputy Chief Mechanical Engineer with responsibility for the fleet maintenance and garage operations. In 2012 she was awarded an MBA from Dublin City University (DCU) and holds a Certificate of Professional Competence in Road Transport Operations Management.

Caron Alexander

Caron Alexander is Director of Digital Shared Services at the Northern Ireland Civil Service.  She has more than 30 years of experience in the UK public sector.  Caron is responsible for providing ICT shared services to 27,000 staff, for the NI citizen portal and contact centre services, delivering the NI Digital Transformation Programme and driving forward the NI Open Data agenda.  Previously Caron held a number of senior technical, programme and change management roles in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

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Michael Redmond

Michael Redmond is Chief Operating Officer at the Office of the CIO/eHealthIreland. A highly experienced leader within eHealth and Digital, Michael has a reputation for delivering results, driving excellence and building capability in each and every one of his career roles to date. Hugely experienced across the public sector, he is known to be acutely customer focussed; his strategy of simplifying the digital agenda resonates with the C-suite, staff and the general public alike. As COO, Michael manages the largest ICT investment budget in the whole public sector. Also a qualified and certified CIO, Michael studied Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin.

Stella Power

In 2008, Stella founded Annertech, Ireland’s leading open-source digital agency. Since its inception, Annertech have grown to become the "go to" Drupal experts in Ireland and work with a variety of clients in both the private and public sectors. Stella is an active contributor to the Drupal open-source content management system, and maintains many modules including Commerce Realex, Commerce Donate and Code Review. She is a member of the international Drupal Security Team, and was recently chairperson of the Drupal Ireland Association.

Dominic Byrne

Dominic Byrne is Head of Information Technology with Fingal County Council and has 26 years’ experience working in IT.  He holds a Degree in Information Technology and a Masters in Internet Systems.  He is responsible for managing the provision of IT services in Fingal County Council and his current interests include Digital Government, Smart Cities and Civic Tech.  He is a member of the Smart Dublin Executive Committee and the Public Bodies Working Group on Open Data.

Bill McCluggage

Bill McCluggage is Managing Director of Laganview Associates Ltd. He became the first CIO for the Irish Government in 2013 and was CIO for the Northern Ireland Civil Service (2005 – 2009). He joined the Cabinet Office in 2009 as deputy UK Government CIO. While in the Cabinet Office he was the Executive Director responsible for the UK Government’s ICT Strategy and was instrumental in the development of the Government G-Cloud, and was SRO for the Identity Assurance Programme, now GOV.UK Verify.

Charlie Weijer

Charlie Weijer is Area Vice President for DocuSign.  He is an experienced business leader, with proven sales and business development abilities. He has developed and executed growth strategies across EMEA in multiple high-tech organisations. He specialises in Sales, Sales operations, pipeline development and management. DocuSign is a hyper growth “startup” of over 300 people, Charlie has been responsible for scaling and leading the EMEA continental sales teams since 2015. He combines strong interpersonal, communication and negotiating skills, with a highly analytical mind. He completed an Executive MBA in 2013 at Smurfit School of Business to complete his academic profile and further complement relevant business experience. Charlie is passionate about coaching people.

Jane Carolan

Jane Carolan is National Director for Health Business Services at the Health Service Executive.  Jane is particularly focused on maximising digital business transformation within the health sector. She was instrumental in driving forward the national Electronic Health Record for Ireland. She is a member of the HSE Leadership Team and previously held the positions of Head of Planning and Corporate Performance and also Interim CIO of the Office of the CIO for six months.  Jane has over 20 years of experience in senior management roles within the health system. Jane has recently won two awards; IT Professional of the Year 2018 and was recognised as one of the CIO 100, 2019.

Dr Finn de Brí

Dr Finn de Bri is Chief Information Officer for the Houses of the Oireachtas, with responsibility for the Oireachtas Digital Transformation, which is a multi-annual transformation, incorporating 7 programmes of development and over 100 projects. Prior to this he was head of Taxes and Customs software application development in the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. He holds a PhD in Information Systems from Trinity College Dublin.

Dr. Aileen McHugh

Dr. Aileen McHugh is Head of Operations at the Property Registration Authority (PRA) with a broad brief which includes overall responsibility for functions including HR, Finance, ICT, Corporate Services, Casework and Customer Service, Spatial Data and Mapping, Quality, Governance and Compliance. Since 2011 Aileen has gained expertise in embedding strategic workforce planning in the PRA.  PRA teams have been shortlisted and won several national awards for spatial data collaboration, diversity and inclusion initiatives, workforce planning, and most recently for the PRA’s innovative Property Alert Service.  The PRA is custodian of publicly valuable data assets and with the  rapidly changing global data landscape  Aileen’s interest has been focused most recently on issues relating to  emerging technologies and Data Governance, privacy and public registers.  Aileen holds a primary degree in Public Administration, a Masters in the Management of Change and a Doctorate in Business Administration. 

Cormac Murphy

Cormac has been involved with helping organizations transform digitally for over 10 years with experience at market-leading cloud organisations including Sage and He has developed a strong understanding of change across a wide range of industries, regions and viewpoints.

Currently responsible for Major accounts at DocuSign, Cormac leads the development of the Agreement Cloud community in Ireland. He holds a B.A. in Applied Languages from Technological University Dublin and speaks French and Spanish.

K Ananth Krishnan

As the Chief Technology Officer, Ananth directs Research, Innovation and Co-Innovation in TCS.  Under his leadership, TCS has created significant IP with business impact.  He has architected an industry-leading agile delivery model and has scaled innovation deep into business units.  He travels extensively to share his perspective on emerging digital trends with senior client teams in the public and private sector.  He also supports clients to implement the appropriate response to the threats and opportunities which these trends present. Ananth has been a member of the TCS Corporate Leadership team since 1999 and has led many strategic initiatives.  He has served on various Governing Councils of Academia, Industry Advisory Boards, and Government and Alumni committees.  He has previously been listed in Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders and in Infoworld’s Top 25 CTOs.

Damian Griffin

Damian is the Chief Technical Officer at the Defence Forces. Commandant Damian Griffin has successfully translated technology to the Defence Forces for over 20 years. Never one to accept the status quo, Damian is continually motivated to ensure the Defence Forces progress secure technology solutions in the right areas and for the right reasons. His current areas of focus are the umbrella of technologies required to deliver Digital Transformation with a close alignment to design thinking methodologies.