Voices from Accenture Public Service


In one of my previous blogs, I discussed how emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Intelligent Automation and Biometrics are helping to unlock value for public service agencies. I also noted that as new technologies emerge, so too do potential misuses of that technology; with the rise in cybersecurity threats chief amongst these. Today, one of the main imperatives for public service agencies is ensuring they have skilled security professionals in place to help protect public infrastructure and citizen data.

The cybersecurity skills shortage

Finding and hiring the right people is challenging. In a recent Accenture research study, fifty-one percent of the public service agencies we spoke to suggested they would look to hire talent from the private sector when deploying emerging technology. As they do so, they’ll have to compete with a wide range of companies from across the private and public sectors for what is a limited pool of skilled professionals. In fact, a clear skills gap is emerging whereby the global cybersecurity workforce will have up to two million jobs unfilled by 2019.

In the public sector, the term “security” doesn’t solely apply to cybersecurity: It also applies to functional security providers such as the intelligence community, border agencies and police forces. What we’re seeing is that public service agencies are increasingly looking to recruit talent from functional security roles and apply their intelligence skills and expertise to the challenges of cybersecurity. The functional security services do represent a good source of potential talent—but recruiting them is only half the battle: Retention is equally vital.

Keeping talent engaged

In what is a sellers’ market for cybersecurity roles, skilled professionals will not stay long in roles that are unrewarding or do not meet their expectations. Therefore, as public sector agencies look to leverage skills from the private sector and functional security agencies; employee engagement is going to be hugely important.

Interestingly, the same emerging technologies that are driving the need for cybersecurity skills also provide the means for building engagement. By automating repetitive and low-level tasks, machine learning and automation allow cybersecurity professionals to focus on higher-level tasks, which are generally more interesting and rewarding. Our research shows just how powerful emerging technology can be in increasing employee engagement: Eighty percent of respondents to our survey agree that implementing intelligent technologies will improve the job satisfaction of current employees.

Moreover, as people who live and breathe technology, cybersecurity professionals are more likely to want to work for a company that uses advanced tools. By employing emerging technologies in their operations, agencies will quickly gain a reputation for being technically advanced, in the process attracting the people they need to secure their operations.

The transformation of public services

The impact of emerging technologies on public service agencies is hard to overstate. They are enabling a new range of data-fueled, connected and automated services that will drive new levels of convenience and efficiency. At the same time, they require a new approach to the workforce and a new set of skills—particularly when it comes to securing these new services.

“It” organisations will be aspirational companies that offer employees a flexible structure and the chance to work on projects that truly excite them. These are collaborative organisations based on exchange ecosystems with agility at their core. If your organisation is not obviously the ‘it’ place to work, then you will need to act quickly to make it compelling for top talent.

My advice for any agency is to act now and become an “it” organisation.

See this post on LinkedIn: Filling cybersecurity roles in the public sector

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