Serving the Public Better with Smart Robots

The mission of public sector services is often defined as serving the people, by the people. With the help of software robots, humans are empowered to achieve greater productivity and satisfaction at work, which benefits the employee, the organization, and the citizen. This is where robotic process automation (RPA) can shine.

At a webinar jointly organized by UiPath and the Singapore government’s shared services department VITAL on Dec 9, 2021, experts shared insights that highlighted the need for public agencies to automate processes. Not only does automation improve public service delivery, but also enhances experiences for both employees and the public.

As automation permeates the public sector, it frees up time for employees to improve the quality of the citizen experience.

Moving forward, the human-to-human interaction is still important, and that's intangible. Leveraging automation would enable public agencies to engage citizens in a positive way, which is a huge win.

Tan Wearn Haw, Director of Service, Innovation, and Compliance, VITAL

The need for faster uptake

Today, despite the acceleration of remote work, public agencies worldwide are still lagging when implementing automation.

According to research firm Gartner*, “more than 60% of governments will have tripled their digital services by 2023, but fewer than 25% will be integrated across organizations’ silos.”

There is a “huge opportunity” to address these issues now, said David Burrows, Public Sector Industries Leader at UiPath.

Most [agencies] have been focused on low-hanging fruit until now. Many large legacy systems in government are falling apart at the seams in terms of maintenance. Legacy systems are also expensive to replace, but RPA can help extend the life of legacy systems and get more value out of them.

David Burrows, Public Sector Industries Leader, UiPath

Automation is a key enabler towards digital transformation. By leveraging automation, public sector employees can increase their bandwidth for more meaningful efforts, Burrows added. For example, employee efforts that strengthen trust between the people and the government.

Automation strengthens organizational resilience

During the pandemic, public agencies around the world have scrambled to cope with citizen requests like the influx of calls at contact centers. This has led to frustrated citizens and low morale among employees.

UiPath assisted public sector agencies in setting up virtual contact centers. With software robots, agencies are capable of providing round-the-clock assistance. And robots can deliver personalized replies to many inquiries.

Meanwhile, contact center agents are on hand to offer a human touch should a problem escalates. When citizens’ needs are promptly met, their trust in the government improves, fostering stronger relationships between the two.

“Trust is something that is under a lot of pressure with the government,” said Burrows. “If people feel comfortable with how you are handling their issues, then you can successfully complete the mission. The return on investment is more than time and money in the public service, it has to be quality of service.”

Call center chatbots lay a foundation for public agencies to implement smarter robots.

With a combination of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and RPA, UiPath robots are able to enhance public service delivery. Robots empower public agencies to be more agile and resilient because the bots are trained to understand what people see on screens and react accordingly.

As smart robots take on additional tedious tasks, employees gain extra time to think about how to engage people better and create citizen-centric public services. “The key driver is to look at how we reshape the whole customer engagement,” said Boris Krumrey, Global Vice President of Automation Innovations at UiPath.

Citizen developers are VITAL

For VITAL, its RPA journey has included creating a “bot library” of automation best practices and scripts for more than 100 government agencies in Singapore. Since 2017, automation has been the core of the organization’s digital roadmap. And VITAL has progressed to implementing unattended automationsand adopting a citizen developer strategy.

Related article: Understanding Citizen Developers: Your Secret Weapon in Scaling Automation

VITAL’s vision is that every officer can become a citizen developer, building robots for themselves and their colleagues using low- or no-code tools such as UiPath StudioX.

Having a low-code/no-code automation tool has helped VITAL scale automation faster. “The UiPath Platform serves as an alternative with a lower learning barrier for non-IT-trained officers who find it challenging to learn the standard RPA developer software on top of their daily work,” said Jessica Ong, Assistant Director (Innovation Hub) at VITAL.

Related article: Dear CIOs: Why You Need an Enterprise-Scale, Low-Code Strategy Now

When talking about scalability, I don’t think there’s a silver bullet. That’s why we are embarking on the idea of citizen developers as part of a low-code or no-code solution. It is how we can scale RPA with enough flexibility and agility.

Tan Wearn Haw, Director of Service, Innovation, and Compliance, VITAL

To learn more about how intelligent software robots can help public agencies, claim your free copy of the white paper "The Path to Digital Government."

*Predicts 2021: Governments Tackle Transformation Out of Necessity, Neville Cannon, Rick Howard, Irma Fabular, Bill Finnerty, Ben Kaner, 19 November 2020.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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