The magazine Trends Public Sector published an interview with our Managing Director Benny Moonen and Sales Manager Public Sector Leen Verelst.
Read the full article below.
“Artificial intelligence makes the government more efficient”
Digital transformation expert Devoteam has extensive experience as a partner of several public services. “With our innovations and knowledge, we support public services as we move towards a digital world”, they explain. And from there, artificial intelligence is a logical next step.
“We assist public services in their digitisation process.” Benny Moonen
“As an IT service provider, we made digital transformation our core business”, says Benny Moonen, Devoteam’s General Manager. “The public sector, in a broad sense, has also started this process. And we use our expertise and solutions to support them.” “You can see clear patterns in many government services”, explains Leen Verelst, Sales Manager for the public sector at Devoteam. “There’s an evident trend towards more efficiency, faster administration and using less paper, which means people are radically switching to a digital environment. In a future phase, the decision-making processes themselves will be extensively automated.
We’ve also noticed cloud technology is being integrated in their own data centres, even though there are still some reservations about the safety of public cloud environments. Additionally, it’s apparent that the government is concentrating its digital services. Smals is a good example of this: the central IT service provider for Belgian social security services uses a G(overnance)-Cloud programme. They work partly with in-house employees and partly with private partners, like us.”
Leen Verelst has noticed some stark contrasts between working for government services and private clients, but she immediately nuances this. “A distinguishing government trait is its public tender procedure, which means the sales process naturally takes longer”, she explains. “It’s incredibly important to compare the award criteria with your own strengths. We know from experience that it’s an advantage that we have our own in-house experts. We’re not a broker at the head of an army of freelancers, but an organisation that invests in the technological advancement of its employees. This means we can offer our clients a technically well-founded and continuous approach. If we notice that the price is a decisive criterion, we’ll probably pass up the opportunity. We always strive to deliver top quality services, and we can’t combine that with battling to offer the lowest price.”
“There are some persistent clichés about public services, but those are exaggerated: we’re always paid correctly and in a timely manner, for example. And just like there are differences between public services, there’s no single, typical civil servant: we often work with a mixed audience, where some are more hesitant to accept digital reformations than others, while still others can’t wait to see what the future will bring. We try to accommodate these differences by involving the technical managers and the end users closely with the project from the very beginning. If needed, we also appoint a change manager.”
“We’ve always been paid correctly and in a timely manner.” Leen Verelst
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Agency
“A recent project that was awarded to us is setting up a fraud detection system for the Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship Agency’s SME wallet”, says Benny Moonen. “It illustrates perfectly how digital transformation can improve the efficiency of public services. The SME wallet is an accessible portal where SMEs can apply for grants with the Agency. A sizeable total of 130,000 project requests are submitted every year. And there’s a 53 million euro budget, which is paid in the form of grants for education and consultancy. Our project aims to create a system involving artificial intelligence (AI) that scans these requests automatically. Our AI works on two levels: we perform an anomaly analysis on all data entered by the applicant and the service provider, and we perform a network analysis on the relationships between these companies – through the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises, for example. This way, we can attribute a fraud coefficient to each request.”
“The project is built around the core of AI: machine learning. Using the large amount of historical information from good cases, the software teaches itself what makes a project valid. An important advantage of this solution is that it takes work from people’s shoulders, so that they can focus their efforts on fraud-sensitive cases. It lets them concentrate on what really matters.”
Evolving on a European scale
With over 5,000 employees, Devoteam is a quickly growing European player in the digital transformation market, but the company’s size doesn’t mean they don’t value local presence. “We employ over 300 people in Belgium”, Benny Moonen explains. “It’s very important to us that we have strong competence centres located close to our customers. It makes cooperation a lot easier and increases the quality of our services. And this approach has proven its merit: during the first quarter of this year, the group grew organically by 20%. We’re well on our way to reaching a 1 billion euro turnover by 2020.”
Copyrights Michaël Vandamme, Trends Public Sector.