Inspiring transformational conversations on AI & data analytics in the public sector

People crossing in Central London, near the Big Ben.

Written by Yatin Mahandru, Head of the Public Sector, Cognizant UK & Ireland

We’ve partnered with Digital Leaders in AI and Data Analytics to inspire transformational conversations in the public sector

The UK public sector stands to benefit immensely from digital transformation. The use of artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics could deliver better outcomes for employees and citizens. But there are challenges to be overcome—including a skills shortage, political uncertainty, legacy infrastructure and regulations.

To help the public sector meet these challenges, I think it’s important to encourage a healthy dialogue between technology experts and government leaders. That’s why Cognizant has partnered with Digital Leaders. I’m excited about the Digital Leaders platform because it enables a discussion of technology from three crucial perspectives—technology for business, for technologists, and for the greater public good.

Digital Leaders takes an innovative approach to debating digital transformation—it hosts large events, roundtables and panels, but it also uses its digital channel as a primary way of communicating. I believe this makes it a perfect match for Cognizant, as we have a similar agile, open and digital ethos. Together, we want to promote the democratisation of digital, while also strengthening the services we’re able to provide to government.

Over the next few months, I’m going to be working with Digital Leaders to demystify some of the hype and buzzwords surrounding technologies like AI, big data and analytics and exploring how the public sector can usethese technologies to overcome some of its biggest challenges. Here’s a preview of what’s to come.

Digital transformation goals in the public sector

The UK public sector is already technologically advanced (globally, it’s ranked 4th in the UN’s E-Government Index), but the journey is never complete. Digital transformation remains an urgent priority because it can deliver real results in the following areas:

  • Improving citizen experiences: In the private sector, citizens are already accustomed to receiving consistent, positive, seamless interactions—especially from technology giants like Amazon and Uber. But can the same be said of citizens’ interactions and how human-centred design fits with government services?
  • Ensuring social accessibility: Although just about everyone may have access to the internet, it may be that the very people you’re trying to serve have difficulty with accessibility. So, how can we bring social, moral, behavioural and human sciences together when implementing new technologies to ensure equal access to all citizens?
  • Delivering joined-up services: By 2020, government’s Transformation Strategy echoes that departments will “design and deliver joined-up, end-to-end services”. Amid departmental complexities around legacy, funding and the call for open standards, how can we facilitate interoperability between departments where there is a need for joined-up services?

To achieve these goals, the effective use of AI, data and analytics is crucial. AI can help you understand citizen needs and identify where improvements in your services can be made, and where you can have the most impact. AI and analytics can help manage risks too. For example, our data scientists are working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), helping it use advanced analytics to assess food safety, forecast risks and protect citizen wellbeing.

How to make a success of digital transformation

I have no doubt that the public sector realises the value of data and AI, but it can be hard to put this vision into action. One thing we need to consider is the “need for speed”, given the dynamic nature of policy-making right nowespecially with current EU exit uncertainties. To overcome this challenge, you need a digital infrastructure that’s built to scale and can evolve quickly. And by transitioning to APIs and a platform-based approach, you can plugandplay new digital solutions from different vendors as they emerge.

For example, at Cognizant, we’re working with Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) to transition data into one integrated platform, and helping it to implement an online booking system. This will improve the efficiency of its services and offer a more tailored citizen experience.

As any initiatives must adhere to standards regulated by the Government Digital Service (GDS), there is a need for flexibility. That’s why I encourage the public sector to be open to fresh ideas, promote innovation and support new entrants. Relying on the same companies and delivering the same systems may not be enough—your businesses, employees and citizens want more.

At Cognizant, we are already working with governmental departments to help leverage data engineering and analytics, and the great potential of AI to build a future-ready infrastructure. Backed by knowledge, skill and a solid partner framework across the technology landscape, we can help departments deliver better outcomes for citizens. And through the Digital Leaders platform, we’ll provide you with further knowledge and content to accelerate your digital transformation journey.

Stay tuned for more insights from Cognizant on Digital Leaders in the coming weeks.

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