Digital Transformation: what the public sector needs to consider in 2019

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Written by Aingaran Pillai, CEO and Founder of Zaizi

The pace of technological change has never been so great. And with that change, comes the ever-rising expectations of citizens; expectations that government departments need to meet.

Last year we conducted a survey with GovNewsDirect speaking to individuals from 95 central government departments and agencies to explore what issues these organisations are facing in their digital transformation journey.

The good news; we found many government organisations had started their digital transformation journey. But the bad news was over half were still seeing slow or partial progress in digitising their processes.

Here are a few things government departments need to look at in 2019 to accelerate their digital transformation journey.

Process Automation Will Be Key

Every organisation is a software company now. Digital is central to how organisations interact with their customers/citizens. And so, business needs to be engaged with the technology; it’s no longer a support function in the back office or outsourced to a lowcost provider.

How can this be achieved? By giving business access and visibility to the process automation tools powering the digital operations.

Business Process Management tools not only improve processes and offers insights, it also makes the logic visually accessible to nontechnical users. Businesses can take control of their processes and constantly iterate to deliver a better product/service. It not only supports leaders of businesses with operational efficiency but also helps them achieve their businessgoals.

With pressures on the public purse increasing, public sector organisations are looking to do more with less. And one way to do that is to eliminate bottlenecks and inefficient processes through simple automation.

By using tools that enable non-technical business users to be involved in automation, it gets buy-in and helps accelerate the transformation.

From our survey, the overwhelming majority recognised the value of automation. Nearly 50% of the respondents reported advanced and steady progress in digitising and automating their current processes. So the other 50%, who are only seeing partial or slow progress, need to accelerate their digital transformation or find themselves falling behind.

Open Source and Cloud

Around half of the respondents in our survey felt that they were constrained by what software was available to them, rather than being able to take an Open Source-first approach.

Open Source is the most collaborative option, offers huge combined savings both in time and money for government organisations.

The recent acquisition of Github by Microsoft is a validation of Open Source. Microsoft realises that every company is a software company and Github has the biggest community of developers.

Organisations that choose open source are not constrained by rigid, proprietary systems and have access to a wealth of developers that are continuously innovating.

All central government departments are releasing the software and tools they use for their digital transformation as Open Source. Home Office and Ministry of Justice are just two examples. With a little coordination and collaboration these tools and software can be re-used — thus drive the cost down for all of government.

The other thing all organisations struggle with is time to value — and the public sector is no different. That’s where cloud comes in. Cost-effective, scalable and secure, the investment in cloud software is increasing exponentially.

Our survey showed that cloud services are becoming widespread in the public sector — 44% said they use it ‘a lot’. But those that don’t, are missing out on the benefits.

Cutting costs and boosting computing power and storage, there has never been a better time for government departments to invest in cloud infrastructure and Open Source technology.

Skills and People

Our survey showed staff skills and resources were cited as the main reason there are issues with replacing legacy infrastructure and software in the public sector. Cultural resistance to change was also a key factor.

We cannot underestimate the importance of people in the digital transformation journey.

Staff need to have the right resources and tools to do their jobs. And radical thinking is needed to drive change from the heart of an organisation.

Be willing to invest in training staff, which can enable the digital workforce to become agile and flexible. Looking at teams objectively, and encouraging open, transparent conversations could be key to opening up new opportunities in the digital transformation space.

Engaging with a specialist and experienced technology partner can kick start the journey to lasting change. Tech partners should believe in the benefits of training your staff to become skilled digital professionals, empowering your employees and ensuring they maintain a competitive edge.

One of the things we’re looking to do is how to upskill the youth. Good developers are hard to come by as there’s a skills shortage in the UK. We’re having conversations with government departments to provide graduates with hands-on development skills and experience.

So, talk to your suppliers about how post implementation skills and knowledge transfer can help your digital service continuously improve. After all, every organisation is a software company. And you need to grow the next generation of tech savvy business leaders who embrace that.


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