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Pegasystems: Securing the Smarter State is Not Just a Technology Exercise #techUKSmarterState

Guest blog by Pete Wilson, Pegasystems Director, Industry Principal Government as part of the Building the Smarter State Week. #techUKSmarterState

This week (26-30 September) the Central Government Programme is running its Building Smarter State Week in the run-up to the eighth edition of our flagship public services conference, Building the Smarter State, which will take place at The Royal Society on Thursday 29 September. All week we'll be featuring guest blogs from members on topics supportive the agenda.

Read the latest blog below:

In 2015 Prime Minister David Cameron talked about reform as one of the three key principles of the Smarter State…. “What energises many markets are new insurgent companies, who break monopolies and bring in new ways of doing things. We should apply this thinking to the government. So many of our country’s efforts to extend opportunity have been undermined by a sort of tolerance of state failure: children-in-care and prisons being two absolutely standout areas”. 

However, nearly 8 years on although various new legislative and policy acts have emerged on a variety of topics, there still tends to be a foundation of policy and process laid down in actions originally brought forward decades ago, albeit periodically amended. To illustrate, just take the PMs examples, which one assumes ground in the Children Act 1989 and Prison Act 1952. 

Why do I call this out, well the people, process, data and IT components that support government departments have to be grounded in these legislative and policy frameworks. Typically in my experience, it’s these frameworks that truly hamper transformation1 to the extent that now in 2022, undoubtedly the Digital Age, many of our Government Digital Services are still built on top of processes grounded in these ageing frameworks, which inevitably blunts progress on the smarter state agenda. 

Nevertheless in the background and, despite perennial legacy IT challenges, many departments have made great strides in modernising their IT estates and transforming citizen services, but ironically the siloed functions that continue to be a problem, are often a consequence of these outdated legislative and policy frameworks and so in some sense, the fundamental smarter state transformation challenge becomes less about the ability of technology and, more about how to drive wider reform with far greater ambition and velocity.  

But…in the absence of a more ambitious and pacey reform agenda, the question becomes whether it’s desirable to continue to move forward with the important citizen service evolutions that most departments are trying to drive within existing operating models. In that sense, it’s probably fair to say that continuing the evolution of these services is desirable if only to keep pace with the unprecedented societal and technology trends we continue to experience, and whether or not we can drive wider reform at pace. However, how to do that in a way that is both pragmatic about embracing legacy policy, process, data and IT value whilst retaining the flexibility to connect to future reform is a crucial question that we need to address to ensure the success of the smarter state agenda. 

So in the end my message is that there are more than enough technology-based visions, best practices and models for digital transformation in government, but until the underlying legislative, policy and business models are overhauled, the next wave of citizen service transformation will be limited in impact and, for it to provide value, it will need to be able to connect old (policy) with new (technology) in ever inventive and valuable new ways that respect the current framework constraints. 



Peter Wilson_Pega.jpg

Peter Wilson, Pegasystems Government Industry Market Director is an IT Architecture and Digital Thought Leader with 21 years experience in Senior Public Sector roles including; Executive level IT Strategy Development, application and Infrastructure Transformation Planning and Solution Architecture Delivery in major Transformation Programmes. To learn more about Pegasystems Limited, please visit their LinkedIn and Twitter.



Building The Smarter State Conference - 29 September

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