The Americas region has entered a new era of service and improved management, one that successfully blends human skills and the innovative and enabling capacities of digital technologies, according to the new study by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) – Evolving management practices – The Americas.
Social security organizations in the region are innovating their management practices to address new and emerging challenges. In practice, this involves reaping the combined benefits made possible by goal-driven strategies, a highly skilled workforce and improved business processes powered by new technologies.
While investments in staff skills and capacities are leveraging the digital literacy of the social security workforce, the transition to digital technologies is expanding the ways citizen can access benefits and services.
The Americas region is a recognized global pioneer in the use of big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and integrated databases that enable interoperable processes. The region is beginning to explore further the power of these technologies to provide actionable information quickly, as well as to address error, evasion and fraud in social security.
Delivering quality services is crucial. To meet higher public expectations, social security administrations are seeking new avenues to improve service quality and become more user-centred.
As the ISSA report spotlights, two management strategies have proven to be particularly forward-looking:
- Developing digital channels – Optimizing human capacities and digital technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic provides clear evidence that technology is an immense enabler. Alongside good leadership and staff ingenuity, the adept use of technologies has made the effective and innovative delivery of benefits and services possible.
The shift to virtual services also requires to invest in staff skills and capacities. Staff training, whether conducted in-person or virtually, develops skills and builds capacity. E-learning courses have the added advantage of giving autonomous and independent opportunities for staff to enhance their proficiencies.
- Institutional transformation. Social security organizations across the region are redefining policies and strategies to respond to the profound and growing needs of the public. The efficiencies and flexibilities of a combined human and digital framework are now driving the transformation of service infrastructures.
Ad hoc or one-off service improvements are giving way to multi-year transformation strategies that are leveraging at least three approaches, which together aim to achieve smarter, faster, better, more transparent and more responsive social security: (i) Digital by default, (ii) Collaborative by default, (iii) Data-driven social security.
These are some of the core operational and management issues that will be discussed at the ISSA Virtual Social Security Forum for the Americas, 1–3 December 2021. These issues are also addressed in detail by the ISSA in a forthcoming report, Priorities for social security – The Americas 2021: Trends, challenges and solutions, to be launched at the event.