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WSO2: How APIs and Cloud Are Enabling Public Services to Transform
The desired outcome for the public sector is to deliver a better customer and digital experience for residents. The UK Government’s 2022 Digital, Data and Technology Playbook, formalised this by identifying key digital targets for the public sector, including the removal of hard to use legacy systems and the prioritisation of a data first approach.
Undoubtedly, public sector organisations face obstacles as they struggle to keep pace with the digital transformation initiatives needed as services continue to rapidly move online. However, building a new digital platform for rapid software development is difficult. Part of the challenge involves the complexity of building all the underlying technology and systems for a digital platform. I say this as I have first-hand experience working in central government for 19 years, and typically projects took around 18 months from start to finish, which is not good enough by today’s standards. Even in our experience here at WSO2, working with hundreds of customers, 60% of digital transformation budgets are dedicated to building internal platforms, and they can take upwards of three years with 100+ team members to complete.
Technologies that enable agile development and the ability to rapidly scale are key to the success of a digital transformation programme. Expensive and failed IT projects will massively hinder public services, potentially more so than their private counterparts.
Two key technologies that are critical to accelerating digital transformation in the public sector and enable services to move online are:
A strong API layer
The success of digital initiatives has led to an increased demand for online public services as citizens compare their private apps to ones offered by public sector organisations such as local councils. As a result, demand for Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) is accelerating because they enable the digitising of services, and many public sector organisations are now taking an ‘API first’ approach to keep up with the online world around them. Essentially, APIs are the foundation of digital business, helping organisations to accelerate product go-to-market timelines, improve IT productivity, and the speed at which developers can deliver projects, and ultimately unlocking innovation.
A strong API layer allows for agile digitalisation of services, combined with the adoption of cloud technology. It enables public services to completely transform, instead of simply improving an existing service, thereby accelerating digital transformation.
Fundamentally, APIs bridge the gap between the modern applications required to provide services and the legacy IT commonly used to deliver public services. Utilising cloud technologies provides scalability. Cloud-native platforms allow for agile services that respond easily to increased digital transformation.
My advice is to start small, build up capabilities, test, iterate and deliver. But, more importantly, to take advantage of these technologies organisations need a digital platform-as-a-service to help them quickly and easily create and deliver digital services, integrations and APIs, rather than spending years developing their own internal platform. Combining all these technologies will not only accelerate digital transformation but transform the services on offer, benefitting citizens, employees and society as a whole for generations to come.
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This article was written by Chris Davey, VP of Solution Architecture (integration), WSO2. Christopher is an experienced IT professional with extensive operational, development and delivery experience in the public sector as well as designing and delivering enterprise integration solutions with customers in Finance (Open Banking), Transport, Automotive, and Education sectors as well. Delivering Platforms and enterprise services that support thousands to millions of customers and 100M+ annual transactions. Experienced with building and leading teams to deliver at their highest potential in a collaborative and enthusiastic environment. Focused on building business solutions utilising modern technologies and methodologies that provide valuable services to meet customer needs. Able to focus clearly on strategic direction and the bigger picture while balancing delivery objectives and troubleshooting detailed development and project issues as needed. To learn more about this author, please visit his LinkedIn.
On Tuesday 5 April, techUK was delighted to host the Cabinet Office and industry representatives for the launch event for the UK Government’s Digital, Data and Technology Sourcing Playbook which was published on 28 March 2022. The DDaT Sourcing Playbook sets out guidance – in one place – as to how digital projects and programmes are assessed, procured and delivered in central government departments, arms-length bodies and the wider public sector. Through the application of what is commercial best practice, the Playbook addresses 11 key policies and six cross-cutting priorities that will ensure government gets things right from the start when it comes to procurement.
You can watch the recording of the launch event in full here:
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