Digital Transformation: Evolution not Revolution

Written by David Biden, Director at Methods Digital

Six years ago, Digital Champion Martha Lane-Fox advised the Cabinet Office to instigate a complete revolution of the way Government engaged with the Internet to deliver services. Her report was titled: Directgov 2010 and beyond: revolution not evolution.

That was certainly needed back then, but times have changed and we’ve come a long way since. We used to talk about migrating to Office 365 or putting document management in the cloud. Now, we’re not talking ‘if cloud’ but ‘what cloud’. We’re putting entire businesses into the cloud with cloud ERPs like FinancialForce. Who wants to sign another 10-year deal with a legacy software provider? Not many people these days.

Digital transformation is now the norm. It should no longer be revolutionary to use the Internet to communicate and interact better with citizens, delivering the same services at lower cost. In fact, it’s Government’s duty to do so. It’s the public purse that is being spent!

So why are we still talking in terms of ‘big transformation projects’ which get started, built and ended? Shouldn’t digital transformation be seen as a way of realising efficiency savings and therefore part of the DNA of Government? Shouldn’t it be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary?

We had an interesting debate on this at Digital Leaders’ salon on 22nd February. Participants raised lots of good points as to why digital is not yet part of the DNA of public bodies. They highlighted some of the key reasons why digital transformation is not yet ingrained in the mindset and behaviours of public bodies: the fear of getting it wrong or being baffled by vendors putting ‘cloud’ in front of everything they offer.

As a digital transformation partner, it’s our job to support senior executives at the helm of public bodies and make them comfortable with starting their transformation journey. It’s our job to put them back in charge of their business model and operations. At Methods Digital, we do so by offering digital leadership training (including Agile thinking) and knowledge transfer throughout project delivery. Other partners will offer valuable components of the solution, but the point is we play a key role in this evolution to ensure the positive changes continue long after we have gone.

We are the ones who need to break down barriers to consuming digital education, share the success stories to show what ‘good’ looks like, and deliver value fast.

Most leaders of public bodies are open to learning and want to adapt, but they need to know they are doing it in a safe way. A lot of people depend on them to get it right. And it’s our job to offer guidance based on our experience so that costly mistakes can be avoided. It’s our duty to tax-paying citizens, just like it’s the duty of senior execs to ensure public money is not wasted in archaic and expensive back-end processes and the technology they run on.

Comments are closed.