Massimiliano Claps
Max Claps (Research Director, IDC Government Insights)
Joe Dignan
Joe Dignan (European Head, IDC Government Insights)
Louisa Barker
Louisa Barker (Research Manager, IDC Government Insights)

Public sector executives, whether they are program or IT leaders in large national governments, or city and regional officials, face a conundrum in the years to come. They need to use the substantial funding made available by the COVID-19 recovery packages wisely, while figuring out how to realize the benefits of the tsunami of data and technology innovation.

A Once in a Generation Opportunity to Re-imagine Social and Environmental Outcomes

Worldwide COVID recovery packages amount to a total of €10 trillion. European Union institutions are pumping resources into the economy. €750 billion come from the Next Generation EU plan. €1.1 trillion will come from the EU 2021-2021 Multi-Year Framework. Countries like Germany and France are adding another €100 billion each.

The COVID recovery funding offers European public sector leaders a once in a generation opportunity to re-imagine their economies. This is an opportunity to make societies more inclusive, infrastructure more efficient and resilient to shocks, cities more livable and prosperous, mobility more convenient, affordable, and safe.

It is an opportunity to deliver on the promise of a net-zero economy which is more sustainable against long-term stresses, like climate change. Leveraging data and technological innovations will be critical to realizing this opportunity.

The Data and Technology Innovation Tsunami

National government departments, regions and cities have used information and communication technology for over 40 years. The pace of innovation has accelerated in the past five to ten years.

Technologies like the Internet of Things, edge computing, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotic process automation and digital twins, have become affordable at scale. These technologies hold the promise of not only supporting existing government services and processes, but also re-imagining them and empowering public services leaders to translate the massive amounts of data that they collect into valuable insights to make intelligent policy and operational decisions.

The COVID emergency has accelerated this transformation. Social distancing measures made digital interactions between government and citizens, government and businesses, and among governments the norm. It catapulted civil servants in the future of remote, flexible working arrangements. It prompted the government to roll-out urgent public health and economic recovery measures that had to be translated into new business workflows and digital services.

Enabling Long-term Societal Outcomes Through Data and Technology Innovation

European public sector executives must use data and technology to make intelligent, transparent, and timely policy decisions on how to design and execute critical programs. They must deliver seamless and intuitive services to citizens and businesses, so that constituents can realize the benefits of these recovery programs.

They must use data and technology as the keys to unlock the next normal of efficient, trusted, highly responsive, inclusive and convenient (ETHIC) public services, so that they can re-imagine how people achieve economic prosperity, realize physical and mental wellbeing, sustain a pride of place, and engage in trusted relationship with their friends, communities and institutions. In one word, how people pursue happiness.

Digital enablers in public services
Source: IDC

Public sector leaders that succeed in realizing these opportunities will make data and technology innovation central to their operations. Those who linger, risk wasting taxpayer money on costly, insecure legacy technology, fancy but unused citizen apps, outdated working models, rigid, manual processes, data buried in forgotten tapes and piles of paper.

They will struggle to respond to the fast evolution that citizens and businesses expect.

If you want to know how to make sense of the data and technology tsunami, join the IDC Government Executive Summit to hear how visionary public sector leaders are shaping the next normal of public services to re-imagine policy outcomes.

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To learn more about our upcoming research, please contact Massimiliano Claps, Joe Dignan or Louisa Barker, or head over to and drop your details in the form on the top right.

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