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Digital revolution in the public sector

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According to the Local Government Association, local authorities face a funding shortfall of £12.4 billion by 2020 – which means that successfully modernising and digitising services is ever more critical in meeting further cost and efficiency targets.

The public sector has often been criticised when it comes to IT programmes and speed of innovation, however important lessons have been learned, particularly with regards to planning, procuring and monitoring major change programmes.

The importance of technology-enabled innovation and transformation has been high on the agenda since the general election earlier this year, and we have seen more and more organisations embracing and driving digital transformation. At the same time, a move to cloud-based technology continues, and along with it increased opportunity to store and manage consistent end-user data, making it easier to extract and analyse meaningful information. It could be something as simple as recognising that fly tipping increases in the summer months when people clear out their houses and gardens more often, and increasing the number of rubbish collections during this period to cope with demand. Business intelligence tools are also being used to identify, develop and create new strategic opportunities.

It seems still to be the case, however, that technology is viewed in some quarters as merely a support function, a perception which undermines any organisation’s ability to use technology to transform and succeed in the digital economy.

Informed by a roundtable of senior technology leaders, our recent report, ‘Enabling a New World of Public Service Delivery’, stressed that urgent, wholesale change is an imperative. For many, this will involve adopting a culture that is focused on outcome-based intervention and the reorganisation of public services around customer demand and customer data. Part of the approach will require creating a safe, blame-free environment, in which people can experiment and develop prototypes outside of the current delivery model.

To quote David Cameron, we have “a moral imperative to continually improve efficiency”. Certainly urgent attention needs to be applied in the next two to three years, with effort focused on driving change amongst public service delivery leaders, particularly when it comes to clearing the barriers to progressive technological advancement.

Steve Shakespeare, managing director, Civica Services

Column sponsored and supplied by Civica

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