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Public Sector Digital Journeys – Making Progress and Facing Roadblocks

Written by Airwalk Reply Senior Business Development Consultant Verity Fletcher 

Airwalk Reply was delighted to take part once again in the Oscar Krane, Excellence in Central Government event, bringing together key public-sector stakeholders, and digital-solution providers. The progress some organisations are making in their transformation journeys was really impressive – equally, many are still grappling with similar challenges as in previous years.

Here are the key takeaways from the event from our perspective:


Last year, several organisations were seeking an off-the-shelf tool that would unlock the power of their data. It was a similar story this year, with many delegates desperate to make use of data, but not sure how, or where, to begin. The challenge, as ever, is that there is no silver bullet. Getting the foundations right – the right platforms, the right approach, clear outcomes and use cases – is key, and at times what we heard was potentially focused a little more on a big-bang solution than on targeted use of technology and data to solve organisational problems. 

People and Culture

Once again, enlightened public sector organisations recognise that to achieve digital transformation, they need to focus not only on technology, but concentrate their efforts on people, skills and organisational culture. One major organisation’s headline message was that Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) capability development was critical to embed digital into the DNA of the organisation to achieve transformation. The current focus on people and culture was echoed multiple times, and really does represent the most critical barrier to transformation that central government organisations are experiencing.


We were pleased to see this year that many public sector organisations understand the importance of deploying modern ways of working (agile, DevOps, automation etc) to foster environments in which their people can learn new skills, grow, and ultimately help their organisations deliver better products and services for the citizens they support. There was a particular focus on automation, with organisations realising that by removing manual processes, they can focus on innovation in order to provide real value. As ever, this is not about tools in isolation, but a mindset shift and embracing a different way of working.


Another recurring theme was security, or rather, how it is still not high up enough on the agenda. Technology is constantly evolving, as is the threat landscape, and securing the IT estate is not a one-time exercise. With the open nature of cloud and its shared-responsibility model, it has become increasingly complex to define and control security on an ongoing basis, whilst ensuring compliance. But again, this is not news. There are ways to automate security of, and in, the cloud which can ensure that teams stop fighting fires and can focus on building new products and services. By deploying DevSecOps, including automation, Policy-as-Code, and codifying security protocols and policies, cloud estates can be compliant and safe at all times.

It's no surprise that many organisations are facing the same challenges as last year. Digital transformation is difficult, and has a high level of complexity. Those organisations that recognise this, that have a clear vision of where they want to be, and understand the bigger picture, are the ones that are getting it right. And just because it’s a big challenge, organisations don’t have to find a big solution, which can leave them feeling overwhelmed. Putting a roadmap in place, and ensuring the foundations are right on which to build new digital services, then taking small, incremental steps is the key to success. 

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