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Reimagining the future of public services

Paul Tatum, Executive Vice President, Systems Engineer for Public Sector for Salesforce

Q.  The pandemic accelerated the uptake of digital services across many areas of our lives. What are the three biggest changes you’ve seen in how the public sector employs digital channels?

A. We’ve seen tremendous transformation and response from our governments. They stepped up when we needed them most.

One of the more impressive takeaways was the speed at which governments reacted. Second was their agility. The third was government-to-citizen engagement at scale. We’re not talking about a few thousand people applying for something like a grant, but millions of people, even hundreds of millions applying for financial assistance or scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations. 

The real question now is how do we harness this agile, citizen-centric approach and apply it to every-day government services?

Q. As we emerge from the pandemic, do you see citizen expectations on public services as being markedly different? Was the pandemic a significant enough catalyst for change or will we see a regression to old ways now that the emergency has subsided?

A. Citizens today want government services that are easy to access, transparent and fast. The private sector has raised expectations. Roll the clock back a few decades, and we as a population accepted government services and processes that were complex and inconvenient. When some of these services and systems were built, it was about the process, not about the citizen.

Citizens want government services that are easy to access, transparent and fast. The private sector has raised expectations.

Paul Tatum, Executive Vice President, Systems Engineer for Public Sector for Salesforce

At Salesforce, we’re a big believer in putting the customer at the center of everything. Rather than design around the process, design around the person and what they need. Technology makes that much easier today.

We will not go back. We’ve learnt it’s okay to go fast. The world is changing; governments need to be responsive. Taking years to roll out new services or adapt is no longer acceptable.

Q. In what ways do you envisage that both the nature and delivery of public-sector services will change over the coming years?

A. No one would have imagined a short time ago that we would be self-servicing through chatbots with government services or communicating with a ministry through SMS. Digital platforms have transformed how governments are able to engage with their citizens and that’s only going to accelerate.

We’ll continue to add engagement channels. Services, currently departmental and siloed, and experiences will start to be connected across ministries. As a customer I don’t want to have to retell my story within the same offices.

Digital transformation is the opportunity to reimagine the services, the process, the engagement, and the government employee experience, in light of the power of a connected digital platform.

It’s also about what we can skip. For example, do we really need our clients or customers to come in for a signature? Salesforce Customer 360, our platform of services, makes this straightforward for customers. It brings together the integration, the case management, the collaboration and the messaging.

Q. The pandemic has shown that citizens are willing to provide personal information if there is an upside, such as with contact tracing. Do you see this trend continuing post-pandemic?

A. At Salesforce, trust is our number one value. Trust is built through the tangible demonstration of integrity, reliability, consistency, support, and transparency — that applies to how government secures and uses data. In our experience, people are prepared to share more data with government if they continue to see a tangible benefit.

The city of Tilburg in the Netherlands is a fantastic example. The municipality is transforming citizen services on Salesforce by providing residents with a single and consistent point of access to all municipal services.

Q. What are you personally most proud of regarding Salesforce’s response to and support for the public sector during the pandemic?

A. Salesforce was very aware of the critical role that technology plays and we wanted to ensure that we do our part.

In the first phase, we really focused on taking action, putting stakeholder capitalism to work — helping our customers and communities. We supported frontline workers and 300 hospitals around the world by delivering 50 million pieces of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). 

We supported front line workers and 300 hospitals around the world by delivering 50 million pieces of PPE.

Paul Tatum, Executive Vice President, Solutions Engineer for Public Sector for Salesforce

We quickly realized the real need for technology to provide vaccine management. We pivoted our technology development and built Vaccine Cloud to help governments and other organizations manage vaccine programs. We partnered with Gavi — the Vaccine Alliance — on equitable distribution of vaccines, targeting 190 countries. Millions of vaccines have been delivered through the platform.

Q. Salesforce has long been a champion of ‘stakeholder capitalism’. Can you talk about some of the opportunities for collaboration between the public and private sector?

A. It’s never been more important to work together. Government needs the collaboration, insight and innovation of industry. World events, even today, prove how important that continued collaboration is, and that can come in a lot of different avenues. 

Take education. It’s no secret that we, as a society, as governments, as companies, need more digitally-enabled workers. 

Salesforce’s Trailhead training platform makes available, for free, the ability to learn about technology, to learn Salesforce, to help close that digital skills gap. It’s been transformational. I have people working for me today who came into my organization from all different kinds of career backgrounds and used that platform.

Q. Salesforce prides itself on being a value-led organization. How are these values incorporated into its work with public-sector organizations? 

A. At Salesforce, trust is our number one value. It’s the DNA of who we are and everything we do: every service, every decision, every investment. 

The second is innovation. We are very focused on assuring innovative capabilities and technology are available to our customers.

The third is customer success. We would not be where we are today as a company without the success and support of our customers.

Equality is our fourth value. It really encourages all of us as employees to invest in our community around us and provide a vision for what’s possible in the world.

We are a values led company. It’s inherent in our culture and who we hire.

Paul Tatum, Executive Vice President, Solutions Engineer for Public Sector for Salesforce

And then, sustainability. We’ve introduced our Net Zero Cloud to help organizations measure and manage their carbon footprint, and report on it, in a transparent way. But it goes far beyond that, to our volunteer time, our philanthropy and our sustainability goals.

We are a values led company. It’s inherent in our culture and who we hire, how we interact with each other and interact with our partners in the world around us.

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