From artificial intelligence to cloud computing, disruptive technologies are reshaping the UK economy. The continued integration of digital technology into every aspect of our lives means we can access products and services whenever, wherever; whether that's in the retail environment or interacting with public services.
The need for the public sector to become more digitally oriented is a well-worn argument. According to Deloitte's State of the State 2018-19 report, public sector workers are seeing “better use of technology as inherent to the future of government and public services”.
Given this vision of a digital-first future, the public sector is looking to prepare workforces for the future, by establishing a culture of lifelong learning. Private sector businesses that enable digitisation of public services, workplaces and employees have a key role to play here, investing in people and making it easier for them re-skill.
As our chairman Marc Benioff has written for the World Economic Forum, “every business leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunity for millions of people by investing in education and training programs for existing and potential talent.”
However, it's not simply about reskilling, but about support the cultural transformation as well as digitisation - and this is where SMEs can add real value.
Being more nimble and adaptable, SMEs have the necessary flexibility to accommodate the challenges and needs of government projects. They can bring the disruptive technologies and more agile working practices which allow them to punch above their weight to public sector organisations looking to transform digitally, but keep to their budget.
The UK government has recognised the importance of this both to the public sector and the wider economy, having committed to spending £1 in every £3 with SMEs by 2022. To help meet this, there are great opportunities to look at procurement and outsourcing contracts in new ways.
For instance, by leveraging approaches such as consortiums and partner networks, multiple SMEs can group together on larger projects, giving the government opportunities to support local, growing businesses when it comes to IT procurement.
Initiatives like these are good opportunities for larger organisations and government alike to collaborate closely with smaller organisations; bring new ideas on board; and share learning and best practice. This includes the niche technology skills and talents SMEs can often boast.
Companies like Salesforce also have a big role to play here - whether that is through our AppExchange, offering new avenues for SMEs to reach customers as part of the Salesforce ecosystem; supporting digital skills learning through our free online learning platform, Trailhead; or helping to fuel their growth using Salesforce to connect more closely with their own customers.
With the public sector agreeing that digital transformation is a good thing, and fully committing to make it happen, SMEs have a clear role to play alongside government and the wider industry to make it a reality.
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