Driving the public sector forward through digitisation

It’s been three years since the launch of the Government Transformation Strategy, a comprehensive document issued by the Cabinet Office, covering everything from citizen-centric public services to ensuring government buildings have interoperable technology.

Since then, promising progress has been made which should make public sector decision makers and citizens very excited. Hospital pagers are becoming a thing of the past, replaced by smartphones and apps. The digitisation of civil money claims through an online service achieved a 90% public satisfaction rate. And it’s common to see civil servants sent on secondment to digital companies, to learn from innovative cultures and enhance their technological skills. Small changes such as these are driving positive outcomes across the public sector.

Ultimately, if the Government Transformation Strategy is successful, civil servants will feel empowered to achieve their objectives much faster, and citizens will benefit from public services that make their lives easier.

While incremental and manageable changes are leading to successes, there’s still more to do – particularly now that Covid-19 has accelerated the need for stable infrastructure, modern working practices utilising the Cloud.

Setting the right foundations for digitisation

If government ambitions are to be met and the public sector is to cope with Covid-19, a winning structure must be embedded at the heart of digital transformation projects. So far, the government has delivered at least 86 digital services using an end-to-end structure, where members of the public can follow simple step-by-step online processes to achieve their goals.

Not only is this an example of positive digital change, it also demonstrates the power of digitisation to make people’s lives less stressful and more straightforward.

The government has also adopted a structure for user verification, known as GOV.UK Verify.  It allows people to access 18 key central government services, including checking income tax on HMRC and claiming for a redundancy payment via the Insolvency Service. Unifying user authentication systems might seem like a small, routine change, but it’s actually a major structural development that has delivered added convenience for users.

While there has clearly been progress, public sector leaders should next focus on enhancing infrastructure. The importance of constant and secure connectivity can sometimes be deprioritised in the public sector—perhaps because networks are ultimately invisible forces.

However, it’s crucial to remember that digitisation is ultimately driven by networks. They not only need to process the data that drives public service delivery, but also manage system pressure points by adapting bandwidth accordingly. Moreover, these networks need to be secure, otherwise they risk exposing confidential information and compromising the integrity of entire public services. Rolling out next generation networks will be vital to delivering the next tranche of iterative improvements.

Remote working as the new normal

One key challenge is responding to demands for remote working. Working practices had been shifting before the health crisis, including a rise in remote working and the use of cloud-based software. But this pandemic has forced the public sector to quickly adapt and implement new ways of working while considering different levels of security across different departments.

With these working practices looking set to stay, the public sector needs to be ready to meet new needs as an everyday circumstance, not an extraordinary one. Encouraging collaboration and creativity is key. Civil servants need to be confident that they can help people efficiently and effectively, wherever they are located.

Ultimately, investment in this infrastructure will provide the public sector with scalable and secure foundations – empowering a workforce with next-generation networks that channel information between buildings, employees and data centres quickly and securely – whatever the future holds.

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