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The pandemic has dramatically accelerated digital transformation in public sector

If we’ve learned anything from this global pandemic, it’s that digital technology and data are truly critical infrastructure to enable business resiliency and continuity for all governments as they adapt sudden and unexpected changes to “normal” ways of delivering services. With a digital transformation journey already underway, the Government of Canada was able to swiftly pivot operations to deliver critical citizen services securely while simultaneously transitioning approximately 250,000 Federal Public Servants to remote work. To learn more about how they have adopted these changes in the delivery of services, register for Forward 50 (FWD50), taking place virtually November 3 to 9.

Over the past few months, we have seen incredible stories of resilience and adaptation from governments from coast to coast, that is only possible when you approach challenges with a growth mindset. We are working with them to provide the technology and infrastructure needed to enable remote government access, empower cross-agency collaboration, and deliver trusted secure services for this accelerated digital transformation. Although the task was daunting, critical services remained accessible to both government employees and Canadians, all without sacrificing security or productivity.

  • The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), in collaboration with the Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED)’s Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program, launched a challenge to Canadian subject matter experts (SMEs) for great new ideas to address COVID-19 needs in areas like diagnostics and testing, patient monitoring and tracking, sanitization and personal protective equipment. This required the development of a new online application portal, through which SMEs could register their technology to assist Canada’s COVID‑19 response. By using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform cloud solutions, the NRC was able to quickly create a new simplistic online portal that allowed Canadian SMEs to submit their proposed solutions in record speed. On April 22, 2020, the application portal went live – only five days after the program was officially announced. By the week of May 11, 2020, contracts were being put in place with recipients and first deposits were made.
  • In the healthcare sector, the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information moved nearly 4,000 healthcare workers to an Azure Virtual Desktop Environment and Microsoft Teams within five days. This provided their teams with a secure centralized repository for all COVID-19-related guidance, data, and information. Healthcare workers were able to screen patients for COVID-19 virtually, and their supply chain department can now order supplies remotely to ensure frontline workers have the resources they need to stay safe.
  • Nunavut is 2 million square kilometers and home to 38,000 people in 25 communities across three time zones. With a population as spread out and remote as this, communications, technology, and access to government services are critical. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Government of Nunavut leveraged the cloud to execute three years of digital transformation plans in just three weeks. Public sector employees in Nunavut are providing citizens with improved and expanded secure access to critical services including family services, healthcare, and education, using Microsoft Office 365, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams from their homes.

These are a few examples of how government departments are using technology to empower people, enhance government, and enable societies in delivering services to Canadians, but it’s just the beginning. At the upcoming FWD50 conference, a global digital government event with more than 2,000 attendees representing more than 100 government departments from Canada and around the world, Microsoft will be exploring a number of aspects of the COVID-accelerated digital transformation of Canada’s public sector, and where we go from here:

photo of Julia Glidden

  • Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Public Sector, Julia Glidden, will sit down for a keynote fireside chat with Alistair Croll, the co-founder and chair of FWD50, and discuss the accelerated digital transformation of the public sector worldwide, the lessons learned from 2020, and our newfound understanding of what’s possible.
  • I will be part of the Diamonds in the rough: How the best leaders find and grow their successors panel. As digital transformation continues to progress, it’s more important than ever that we’re upskilling high-potential employees for positions for which they have an interest and are well suited—the key to ensuring that the right employees are ready to assume the right role at the right time.
  • And as a proud presenting partner of FWD50, Microsoft Canada will also be hosting a breakout session on the advancing use of AI to address global and local challenges in the public sector and an interactive workshop focused on building sustainable strategies. We look forward to engaging with innovators, big thinkers, and policymakers in conversations that will shape our future.
  • Listen to this conversation, between FWD50 chair Alistair Croll and Olivia Neal, Director of Digital Transformation, Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft as they discuss industry innovations.

As we continue this journey from initial COVID-19 emergency response to the start of a recovery and toward reimagining the way the government will work post-pandemic, it’s important that we take the time to discuss where we are right now, what we’ve done, the lessons learned and where we go from here.  ​

Learn more about Microsoft in Government.