People, data and outcomes - getting Technology right for UK Public Sector organisations

Written by Senior Business Development Consultant Tristan Sifantus at Airwalk Reply.

In February, a couple of our colleagues at Airwalk Reply attended Oscar Krane’s Excellence in Central Government conference in Dorking, Surrey. The event brought together senior executives from various Central Government organisation to network, to share ideas and best-practices around IT and Digital Transformation and to understand how innovative technologies can be leveraged to deliver better services and products to the UK citizens.

Many enlightening topics were discussed across the 2-day event, however there were a few recurring themes that seemed to be top-of-mind when we spoke to the delegates.

This short article will offer our thoughts on what these themes were, what they mean for the public sector organisations, and what you should consider when thinking about Cloud Security, Data Management or Modern Ways of Working.

It’s not about the technology, it’s about the people

Transforming your organisation and leveraging technology to deliver better outcomes to citizens and end-users is not merely about your ability to master the technology itself but rather about the ability to promote change and move the needle on your operating model. Overcoming reticence to change, deploying modern ways of working (agile working, DevOps, automation, etc…), promoting a culture focused on innovation where staff are able to make mistakes and learn from them, all this will foster an environment in which your people will learn new skills, grow, and ultimately help your organisation deliver better products, services and outcomes.

The shift to being outcome focused

Of course, focusing on the outcomes of a project rather than on how it is delivered is critical to the success of a project, but that’s not really a surprise in itself. However, we believe it is worth mentioning as it is something we have seen before and was highlighted during the presentation by the Department for Work and Pensions: reducing the Job Centre estate will save millions of pounds from a cost perspective, but could potentially cost billions in increased benefits in the long term. Scrutinising the potential impact of your objectives and defining a clear strategy to achieve them could save you many headaches.

Data, data, data!

We must derive better decisions from the data. Easy to say… Where do we even start? There’s more data than we can consume… It’s in different places and formats… This set has several layers of confidentiality while this one hasn’t… Is this dataset safe to share? Which data do we prioritise? How do we automate our decision-making processes with Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning when we can’t even tackle all these challenges?
It is our view that unfortunately, there isn’t one off-the-shelf tool out there yet that will miraculously unlock the unlimited power of data. Our recommendation is to at least correctly build the underlaying foundations of your technology. Ensure that your digital platforms are well architected and future-proof, which in turn will allow you to extract all the benefits of modern data-management cloud technologies.

Stay safe

Technology is constantly changing and evolving, and so is the threats landscape. Securing your IT estate is not a one-time exercise anymore where a simple review would help you identify the security gaps. With the open nature of cloud and its shared-responsibility model, it has become increasingly complex to define and control its security on an ongoing basis, whilst ensuring compliance. But again, this is not news to you.
There are ways to automate your security of, and in, the cloud which can ensure that your teams stop fighting fires and actually focus on building new products and services. By deploying automation and Policy-as-Code, and codifying your security protocols and policies, your cloud estate can effortlessly stay compliant and safe at all times.

In conclusion, it is our strong belief that technology has the potential to be a powerful enabler within your organisation. It can promote innovation and effective collaboration, and more rapidly drive greater outcomes and value for citizens. However, the technology itself is not sufficient to help you solve problems. There has to be a fundamental change with your approach to technology. Adopting modern ways of working, ensuring the foundations are right on which to build new digital services, as well as understanding how to secure your cloud environments, will be key to successfully delivering long-lasting value.