“Everyone needs to be able to participate in digital life”
Switzerland is one of the most competitive countries in the world, but it still has catching up to do when it comes to digitization. Nicole Burth, who has been head of the new “Communications Services” business unit with Swiss Post since 1 January 2021, explains what role Swiss Post has to play in the digitization of Switzerland.
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Nicole Burth, how prepared is Switzerland digitally?
Switzerland is not one of the most digitally prepared countries. It lags behind in the fields of healthcare, public administration and SMEs in particular. But it’s not only public authorities and business that have to keep up with digitization, the Swiss people do too. And yet a lot of people feel out of their depth faced with the dynamic, complex nature of digitization.
How can Switzerland catch up?
For Switzerland to remain future-proof, everyone needs to be able to participate in digital life and to keep up with current developments. It’s about equality of opportunity and making sure nobody is left behind in the digitization shift. This is where Swiss Post comes in. Our aim is to make Switzerland ready for digitization and to help the country overcome the challenges of the digital future, and we will do this with straightforward, reliable digital services and solutions.
How can your services and solutions help in day-to-day life?
They facilitate intuitive digital interaction for people, companies and public authorities, as well as simple and secure handling of their data. This is simply so that even people who aren’t as digitally savvy can use our solutions. According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO)Target not accessible, that’s about half the Swiss population. But it’s not only the complex nature of applications that people struggle with, it’s the sheer number of them as well. In Germany, the average person has 78 online accounts. Keeping track of everything is a challenge even for the digitally savvy in this instance.
Can you give a specific example?
The example of bills and invoices shows how user-unfriendly administration is today: people receive their bills by post, e-mail, via an app, or they have to download them from a website. This is where our new ePost App (which can be downloaded from Google PlayTarget not accessible and the Apple StoreTarget not accessible) comes in handy. It’s a digital postbox that allows you to receive bills centrally, file them in the right place thanks to artificial intelligence and to pay them directly.
Convenient. But what about data security?
It’s no good offering customer-friendly services with all the benefits if these aren’t secure. Confidentiality and privacy requirements when it comes to handling sensitive information and data are becoming increasingly stringent. This is why we’re developing applications that guarantee the utmost security without sacrificing that user-friendliness.
How are you going about doing this?
We’re investing in the development of digital ecosystems where private individuals, SMEs and public authorities can network, access services and interact. In the ecosystem for SMEs, we focus on solutions such as the ePost App and KLARA for SMEsTarget not accessible. KLARA for SMEs is a digital assistant that facilitates the accounting and payslip process. With our ecosystem for public authorities, we want to assist public administrations and municipalities with the digitization process by providing them with a one-stop solution. Additionally, we help assist with the introduction of e-voting, and provide a system that allows full verification of votes cast. Any cantons interested will be able to use it for the first time in 2023.
And what are your plans for the digital ecosystem for healthcare?
We believe that a digitized healthcare system and the electronic patient record (EPR) should be part of a modern Switzerland. This is why we are investing in the development of a digital ecosystem for healthcare. Since 2021, half the population has gained access to the EPR. We provide protected access to this sensitive health data. We’re also in the process of expanding our e-health platform into the highly secure networking platform “Cuore”. It’s open to all key players in healthcare and enables the digital mapping and administration of entire treatment paths.
Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve already accomplished in 2021?
We have taken on a lot, and achieved a lot as well. As such, around 36,000 private users have already created a profile on the ePost App, which we launched back in July. 39,000 SMEs already use the company software KLARA – with an additional 1,200 or so new customers coming on board every month. All these SMEs also have access to our ePostTarget not accessible solution. Since November, the EPR has been introduced in twelve cantons: AG, AR, FR, GE, GL, GR, JU, NE, SG, TI, VD and VS. We have also expanded our product portfolio to include a digital certificate and signature solution. The electronic signatureTarget not accessible allows users to access all of Swiss Post’s digital services and traditional services via login. Thanks to our acquisition of the company TresoritTarget not accessible, we are able to offer private individuals and companies a secure solution for administering, storing, synchronizing and sharing files in the Cloud. This is also of particular interest to municipalities.
What’s in store for 2022?
We’ll be equipping each ecosystem with additional functionalities, and we want to persuade more users to start using our solutions. Another one of our main objectives will be for the over three million people who have a Swiss Post login to have a SwissID in future as well. Our goal is also for the ePost App to become appreciated throughout Switzerland. We will launch the e-health platform “Cuore” in 2022. We will continue working on the EPR on a functional and regulatory level.
So you have quite a lot planned. What are you particularly passionate about?
It’s true that we’re ambitious. The only way we can achieve this is by working well as a team, and by enjoying what we do as well. This is why I believe teamwork and interpersonal relations are so important. Everyone should be able to do their bit so we not only reach our objectives, but exceed them where possible.