I was absolutely delighted to attend the recent Government ICT 2.0 conference in London. The event was hosted and attended by some very prominent names in both the tech and public sectors, with Bryan Glick, editor-in-chief of ComputerWeekly, chairing and delivering the opening speech. The common perception is perhaps that the public sector lacks customer-focus, is resistant to change and therefore behind the technology curve, however this conference proved that it is anything but complacent.
One of the keynote speakers, Holly Ellis, Director of Capability for the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Profession, covered digital and service transformation in government. The UK government has set itself an ambitious target of striving to have one of the most digitally skilled populations in the world. In order to achieve this transformation, the public sector needs to build organisational capability by growing digital, data and technology capabilities.
In her presentation Ellis made a thought-provoking statement, which applies across both the public and private sectors:
‘We think that transformation is about products but it’s about people, skills and culture.’
Ellis also commented that the public sector must get better at attracting, recruiting and retaining top DDaT talent to respond to modern challenges. Priorities include ‘nurturing a culture of diversity, creativity and equality to position the Civil Service as ‘the destination of choice’ for digital, data and technology professionals.’
Other key conference topics were in the areas of Cloud, Data and Infrastructure. As someone who works with public sector clients on a daily basis, it was fascinating to learn more about high-profile technology projects in local as well as central government.
John Keegan, Head of Cloud Infrastructure Services, Department for Work & Pensions, presented on the DWP’s Digital Transformation Journey and new Cloud- centric model. The DWP aims to create a hybrid Cloud environment by making use of virtualisation and modern ICT infrastructure techniques. One of the DWP’s recent successes has been to migrate customer communication channels to Cloud-based applications to reduce operational cost and time.
Heather Savory, Deputy National Statistician and Director General for Data Capability, Office for National Statistics, talked about data as an enabler in public services. The ONS is keen to build and expand data science and analytical capability to use data for improved decision-making. A key initiative will be to create a culture of data sharing and transparency across organisational boundaries.
In summary, the Government ICT 2.0 was a fantastic technology event that highlighted many interesting aspects of digital and service transformation in the public sector today. It was encouraging that both central and local government entities spoke about possible learnings from the private sector as well as the need for improved technology and collaboration to serve the customers more quickly and efficiently. Driving digital transformation programmes or new technology that don’t enhance the service and experience for the end-user is pointless.
To make transformational change work, it has to be ALL about people.