Voices from Accenture Public Service


Digital decoupling is a well-established strategy for health and government agencies to employ for IT modernisation. Yet, there are some subtleties that make it hard for organizations to do it well in practice. And as technology continues to change rapidly, a more adaptable approach is needed.

Previously, I wrote about the need for continuous transformation of legacy systems and in my next four blogs, I will uncover four of the key strategies I outlined, including this one: digital decoupling.

Strategy What it is When to use it

Digital Decoupling



Separate the customer experience and applied intelligence platforms from the core processing platform.


Need to combine traditional and digital services but no packaged solution exists. Applicable to almost any system and can run in parallel with the three other strategies.







Update or completely redevelop the code in an existing system to be more agile and modern.


In-Place Modernisation


Microservice Decoupling 


Replace specific functions within an existing system with a microservice.



Microservice Decoupling


Parallel Replacement 


Replace an existing system with a new, packaged solution.


Parallel Replacement

Digital decoupling requires shifting the digital components (experience and intelligence) away from monolithic core systems that carry ever-increasing technical debt to digital services. Decoupling empowers agencies to evolve to a digital architecture that can shift when needed and move services to market faster.

Many health and government agencies have already embarked on this journey in the last five years, launching the first wave of digital experiences. Now, we’re entering a second wave of experience powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

This second wave of digital change is transforming two key capabilities:

  • Customer experience. We’re moving beyond traditional, passive web experiences towards conversational, AI-enabled mobile experiences. For example, chatbots are providing virtual assistance to users looking for basic information. Many customer experience platforms deliver on the experience but are not sustainable – their maintenance costs are high and they can lack operations rigour.
  • Applied intelligence. We’re moving towards more sophisticated analytical models, driven by AI, that enable smarter operations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has piloted the use of machine learning and Natural Language Processing to process public comments regulations more efficiently. Intelligence needs to move from focusing on insight to driving value, and needs to be embedded into processes and systems to operationalise the value.

Keeping up with the fast pace of changing technology is challenging—agencies must plan for future transformation while delivering improvements today, they must balance their investments across customer experience, applied intelligence and their core systems to find a sustainable solution.

Five digital decoupling strategies

A quickly and constantly changing landscape also means no single product offers the best all-in-one solution. At Accenture, we see organisations combining multiple products to build new digital systems. Governments, in particular, will need to offer services spanning both traditional and digital channels to support the community.

To address these challenges, I recommend agencies follow one or a combination of these five digital decoupling strategies:

  1. Flexible integration: rather than seek an all-in-one solution from a single vendor, integrate multiple applications to build a platform. This avoids getting locked into one single vendor and allows for continuous change.
  2. Collaborative development: digital technologies must be implemented with rigour and speed in order to be successful and adapt to future changes. DevOps, the practice of bringing business, development and operations teams together to streamline IT and take an Agile approach to working, can help agencies innovate at speed and scale while maintaining sustainability.
  3. Focus on value: digital technologies and transformation should drive both cost savings and improvements in the ways organisations operate. Too much focus on elevating the customer experience can eat up funds needed to work on core systems. Hence, the focus must be on delivering digital sustainably.
  4. Take a design thinking approach: rather than just digitising existing processes, take a people-centred approach to creating services. This requires taking a step back to look at new ways to deliver experiences and realise value. This can include connecting to the ecosystem and leveraging other organisations to provide services.
  5. Insight-driven outcomes: agencies must shift from focusing on insights alone to driving improvements and change based on those insights. While this is harder to do, it will deliver more transformative results. Embedding analytics into processing will make the processing smarter, improving decisions and lowering costs.

Digital decoupling is necessary for every government and health organisation struggling with legacy core technology. Failing to take action will impact an organisation’s public perception and could risk compliance issues. Citizens expect compelling and convenient experiences, and they want to see public money spent wisely. Digital decoupling can enable agencies to start their continuous transformation journey now.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *