Human and Social Services Outlook 2018

Human and Social Services Outlook 2018

Research shows that increasing customer demand is driving change in human and social services.

Kerry McGough

Partner – Health, Ageing & Human Services

KPMG Australia

Young girl next to tree in forest

Increased needs and decreased funding are adding pressure to human and social services (HSS) sectors around the world. The pressures are pushing many service organisations to a point of crisis as they struggle to adapt to changing customer needs and the challenge of transforming their organisations to improve complex service delivery.

However, KPMG's global survey Listen, Learn and Lead: Human and Social Services Outlook 2018 identifies ways to accelerate the transformation needed in order for the sector to meet the expanding demands for its services.

Based on the insights from more than 100 human and social services leaders across the globe, and specialists from KPMG's network of member firms, the survey found that developing a stronger client focus is a strategic priority for human and social services organisations and systems over the next 3 years. However, it also highlighted that the sector is struggling to change and adopt this focus.

Top five strategic priorities

While there are various forms that transformation may take, CEOs have identified their top five strategic priorities for the next 3 years:

  1. Building a stronger customer focus (or better meeting customer needs) – 44 percent of CEOs say developing affinity with the customer is the number one strategic priority. By enhancing affinity, organisations can improve the design and delivery of services that reach people in the right place at the right time.
  2. Fostering innovation – The human services sector is behind the global economy with regard to the maturity and effectiveness of innovation processes and culture. Only 13 percent indicate they are effective innovators as they lack a strategic approach that ensures ideas are appropriately reviewed, tested, deployed, and learned from.
  3. Developing and managing talent – Staff are often caught between the pressures of tighter budgets and increased demand. The constant need to do more with less can result in stress, lack of motivation and ultimately the loss of key people. This weakens service quality so supporting employees is critical. HSS CEOs rated this as their third strategic priority to address.
  4. Becoming more data-driven – Data is a key element of developing customer affinity but 50 percent of CEOs say they are not using data effectively. Human services organisations, however, have unparalleled access to a vast amount of rich information about the people they serve. In a world that is driven by data, there is significant untapped potential.
  5. Digitising the business (or technology transformation) – Many governments are undertaking large-scale digital transformation projects. This is a response to many processes in the sector being unwieldy, disconnected and paper-based which weakens quality of information that organisations gather. 24 percent of leaders rated digitisation as their highest priority as old processes limit agility and flexibility.

Respondents report being behind the global economy with regard to innovation and more than half indicate they are not using data and analytics effectively to guide their approach. In a world increasingly driven by data, organisations have unparalleled access to rich information and insights that can inform and inspire a renewed approach to service delivery built around the customer.

According to Listen, learn, lead: KPMG's 2018 Human and Social Services Outlook, the sector is missing an important opportunity and offers insights on how organisations can better unlock the value in the vast amounts of data they already collect.

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