Thursday, August 11 2022

LONDON, December 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ —


  • Only 9% of organizations worldwide are digitally mature as cost cutting, delivery frenzies, manual processes and resistance to change hinder back office modernization

  • More than half of Global Public Sector Survey respondents say pressure to improve spending transparency is growing and 40% admit cost savings will come from reduced services to citizens or the community

Over the past two years:

  • Public pressure to improve spending transparency was experienced by more than half of public sector respondents

  • steering resistance change is the biggest challenge for organizations adapting to changes in services

  • Cut citizen or community services are the first measure of savings despite the increase in public sector budgets in the world

  • Despite the best intentions, implementing change will be slow because on average, it will take 2.5 years to deploy digital transformation in entire organizations

  • Only 9% higher performance in terms of implementing the digital transformation of the back office. The majority are cautious followers (37%) or enthusiastic reviewers (39%).

Unit 4, leader in enterprise cloud applications for people-focused midsize businesses, today released the results of a new global study, state of the digital nation, which examines digital transformation in the public sector across the world by exploring the challenges and successes of back-office innovation. Driven by Vanson Bourne, the study consulted decision makers from a range of public sector bodies Europe and United States. The results confirm that organizations face a number of challenges to transformation, ranging from resistance to change to decision-makers’ illusions of progress, but most importantly, it is clear that there is still a long way to go before the digital transformation is not fully realized.

Digital transformation performance

As part of the study, Vanson Bourne assessed digital transformation maturity among public sector organizations and only 9% believe they are performing better in terms of modernizing back-office IT systems to enable increased collaboration and productivity. The vast majority (76%) of respondents said they were either cautious followers or enthusiastic evaluators, suggesting that there is still a long way to go before digital transformation reaches every corner of the public sector . At the country level, Sweden (40%) is the global leader in terms of back-office systems transformation, followed by Belgium (39%) and the United States (31%), while Canada (11%) has the lowest percentage of such digital transformations deployed. The UK has the highest percentage (56%) of partially deployed digital transformation for back-office systems.

There are also concerns about the ambition of public sector organizations in their delivery schedules for transformation. On average, it will take 2.4 years for central government and 2.7 years for local government to fully roll out digital transformation in all areas of organizations, which considering the amount already spent on digital transformation over the past 10 years, suggests that citizens will have some time to wait for completely updated services.

“The global public sector is going through one of the toughest challenges it has ever faced, but in some ways it has demonstrated what is possible in terms of digital transformation,” said Marc Gibbison, Global Public Sector Director, Unit4. “However, organizations will face an even more difficult task in the years ahead to maintain essential public services and continue to invest in innovation to deliver meaningful improvements. It will take a shift in mindset to embrace the change needed to modernizing public services and a willingness to be more agile, accepting that disruption ultimately leads to much better value for citizens.”

Reality check for digital transformation strategies

The State of the Digital Nation study indicates that there are significant hurdles to overcome for digital transformation to succeed, which should serve as a reality check for organizations when planning their strategies. 41% of respondents globally say significant improvements are needed in data compatibility in their organizations and 16% say deep changes are needed. Worldwide, a further 38% say data is entered manually by someone from paper to software systems and 43% say data is manually exported from one system and imported into another. Additionally, the vast majority of respondents (86%) believe their staff lack the skills or training to transform back-office systems, which will further impede delivery.

There are also concerns that senior management is overconfident in their assessment of the achievement of digital transformation. 47% of senior managers and 44% of senior managers believe the transformation will be delivered on time, compared to only 5% of junior managers who agree with this statement. Similarly, 51% of senior managers and 48% of senior managers believe the transformation will be delivered within budget, compared to only 5% of junior managers.

The path to follow

The survey indicates where public sector organizations are focusing to improve processes and increase the efficiency of back-office systems. The top three priorities are cloud migration (50%), data management tools (49%), and real-time reporting tools (47%), while artificial intelligence is the lowest priority (36%).

Taking a closer look at the maturity of public sector organizations, the study breaks down indicators of overperformers and underperformers, which occupy either end of the performance spectrum. Outperformers:

  • It only takes a year and a half to fully deploy digital transformation in their organizations

  • The smallest percentage (25%) seeks savings by reducing services to citizens and the community

  • Only 18% make compulsory or voluntary departures

  • They can also recruit from a wider geographical area (37%)


  • Are more likely to complain about bureaucracy/regulations to justify spending

  • It will take 2.8 years (compared to 2.4 years on average worldwide) to fully deploy digital transformation

  • 39% will save money by reducing citizen and community services and implementing mandatory or voluntary layoffs

  • They have the most recruiters but can’t find the right people, and 30% hire staff who don’t have the right skills

Additional Resources

Survey methodology

Vanson Bourne surveyed 600 public sector decision makers across Australia, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom and United States. Respondents were chosen from central government, local government, healthcare, emergency services and non-departmental public bodies, and from a range of roles including HR decision makers, IT decision makers and finance decision makers.


About Unit4

Unit4’s next-generation enterprise solutions power many of the world’s most people-centric middle-market companies. Our state-of-the-art cloud platform, ERPx, brings together the capabilities of financial services, procurement, project management, human resources and FP&A on a unified cloud platform that shares information in time real and is designed with a powerful, people-centric approach. , so that employees can benefit from a better understanding and become more efficient and increasingly engaged. It supports rapid and continuous change while providing an individualized fit for large-scale customers, providing the right tools to unify processes across their organization and connect their employees. Unit4 serves over 6,000 customers worldwide including Bravida, Havas, Migros Aare, Americares, Save the Children International, Action Against Hunger, Metro Vancouver, Forest Research, Southampton City Council, Habitat for Humanity, Selkirk College, FTI Consulting and Surrey County Council.

For more information, please visit, Follow us on twitter @Unit4global, or visit our LinkedIn page

Media Contact:

Lisa Stassoulli

Global Communications Manager, Unit4

Mobile: +44(0)7870 916827



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