Government Digital Trends Survey findings 2016

Written by John Baskerville, Managing Director for Government at Sopra Steria

We’ve just launched the findings from our second annual Government Digital Trends Survey – a long-term study to track the views of civil servants across the country around digital and the progress being made towards digital transformation.

What does digital transformation mean to civil servants?

Our survey found that the digital transformation agenda continues to make a significant impact on the work of the civil service. 75% of civil servants confirmed it had an influence on their work (the same proportion as last year). And 33% told us it was a major focus of what they did (an increase of 2% since last year).

It is, perhaps, surprising that 8% of civil servants said the agenda had not had an impact on them. This highlights that, in some parts of government, work is needed to make digital a reality and not just a buzz phrase.

As the effects of digital transformation are already being felt, what does transformation mean for civil servants?

The vast majority (71%) said that restructuring the way services are delivered was the factor they most associated with digital transformation.

Improving online channels of contact (52%) and shifting channels of contact online (47%) were the next popular responses.

This is an encouraging finding. It indicates that the potential benefits of digital are beginning to be explored across the end-to-end business processes rather than simply concentrating on the customer interface.

A change in strategy, with departments once again taking greater leadership of the cross-government digital agenda, should encourage this shift in the years ahead.

And what are the barriers to digital transformation?

If civil servants increasingly understand and appreciate the benefits of digital, what are the barriers that stand in the way of transformation?

The most significant factor blocking digital delivery, which has seen the biggest increase since 2015, is a lack of training. The proportion of civil servants who are finding this a barrier has increased from 43% in 2015 to 53% in 2016.

As citizen expectations continue to rise, and government expects to take more of a role in the integration of IT systems, this skills gap is only likely to widen.

Unsurprising given the budget constraints placed on government, a lack of resources is now cited as the second biggest obstacle to success (increasing to 50% in 2016 from 44% in 2015). This worries senior civil servants even more (59% said this was an issue). It would seem resources continue to pose a dilemma for government, as upfront investment is needed to release the efficiencies of digital.

Digital in Government – the state of play

Our survey confirms that the digital transformation agenda is gathering support and momentum across government. Digital transformation is moving from the margins, as more civil servants get engaged and are starting to think differently about the potential of digital.

But…

…the warning signs are also clear – skills, training and resources are just some of the challenges facing government. In the coming weeks we will be going into more detail about the survey findings and giving our views on ways of addressing them. In the meantime, you can download the survey findings here.

We also want to encourage a debate with civil servants and others with an interest in government, so please leave your comment below.

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