Public Sector Trends 2022 - Seventh Heaven

Airwalk Reply’s Head of Public Sector Justin Gilroy outlines seven digital trends for this year, which will help Public Sector organisations deliver both cost-effective services and be better able to serve their citizens.

Building on the pace of digitisation created by the COV1D-19 pandemic, the time is ripe for the Public Sector to put its foot to the pedal to exploit technology and all that it offers, in order to drive innovation and collaboration, as well as increase security, efficiency and cost control. 

One: To increase efficiency - choose modern platforms and ways of working 

Historically, Public Sector organisations have designed IT from the inside out – driven by systems and technologies themselves, rather than the outcomes these should facilitate. Consequently, they’ve been forced to operate within the constraints of their IT applications, making their responsiveness to change quite difficult. The challenge is that government policy and citizen need change faster than traditional applications can evolve, so many Public Sector bodies find they’re always playing catch up, and this gap is only widening. More than ever, there is the need for a fundamental shift in both the foundational technologies employed by organisations, and the way in which they operate. By moving to an operating model that incorporates principles such as automation, DevOps and Agile methodologies, alongside modern platforms that are modular and based on scalable, flexible cloud-based technologies, organisations can increase the speed of digital delivery in public services to respond either to demand from their citizens or policy makers.

Two: To increase innovation - choose Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) 

Adoption of AI has been slower in the Public Sector than in the private sector but local councils with larger budgets have made greater headway in automation. With the technology coming of age and being more accessible and affordable than ever, this year should see the acceleration of AI adoption, linking to IoT infrastructure and using cloud processing to meet the need for increased efficiency and the requirement for more personalised services.

Three: To control costs - choose FinOps

Once a move to the cloud has begun in earnest, Public Sector organisations need to be proactive in ensuring operational costs do not get out of control. Whilst the cloud supports agility and innovation, its flexible on-demand nature and the shift from capital to resource expenditure means that a lack of strict financial control can be disastrous for budgets. This is where FinOps comes in – a combined approach, skills and toolkit focused on the financial elements of managing technology operations, including a move to near real-time control of the financial commitments being made to the cloud. Simple examples we see all too often include organisations spinning up cloud instances for development and forgetting to shut these down when not in use, and losing sight of the expenditure in the noise of billing. But as the scale and complexity of the cloud estate increases, so does the level of sophistication and agility needed to stay on top of the associated costs. 

Four: To increase efficiency and innovation - choose efficient data analysis

The public is more aware than ever of how its data is used, and scrutiny will drive the Public Sector to prioritise maintenance and accurate up-to-date information. It’s an ideal time to use contemporary technology to analyse and sensitively exploit data in order to produce useful, actionable intelligence. History suggests that data lakes and monolith tooling is not the answer – but an outcome-driven approach to data can drive significantly better decision-making and insights, if the right technology foundations are in place. The right choice of technology and tooling can also mean sophisticated analysis tools are affordably available, even to smaller organisations.

Five: To increase safety - choose cyber security

In 2021, ransomware attacks occurred globally every 11 seconds. That rate will continue to rise this year due to the increased dependency on digital services. With it’s sensitive data, profile and importance to the functionality of the nation, the Public Sector represents an attractive target for cyber criminals and hostile-state actors. The traditional model of IT security – one-time architectural or go-live reviews – is no longer fit for purpose in the dynamic world of public cloud. Modern cyber security needs to be real-time, automated and integrated into code, and organisations which pursue this approach will be the best equipped as the threat landscape evolves and hardens. 

Six: To increase social value and levelling up - choose automation

Well-designed and delivered, digital solutions can enable community wellbeing, social improvement and equality. In 2022, the Public Sector will not only focus on more efficient and productive service operations, but will also pay great attention to strategies for wider community value, inclusion and social challenge. Through the effective use of automation, Public Sector bodies can focus more of their limited time and money on face-to-face interactions with those who need it most, whilst satisfying the needs and expectations of an increasingly digital-savvy population.

Seven: To solve complex local issues - choose standardisation and collaboration

Local authorities are collaborating more to solve complex issues that face multiple organisations. Technology sharing has become easier over the last few years but the benefits promised by centralisation and mergers have proved difficult to realise. In 2022 and beyond, the focus will be building on flexible architectural models that utilise targeted, reusable and sharable services and efficient flows of data. Rather than betting on ever-larger monolithic solutions or merged organisations, Public Sector bodies should establish and retain smaller local technology teams who can share knowledge and standardised code across organisations. This will drive agility, savings and efficiency, whilst allowing them to focus on the priorities and purpose of their own organisations.

In 2022, it’s not enough to choose technology for the sake of technology. When Public Sector bodies focus on strategic objectives, they can leverage a range of digital solutions to help them achieve specific outcomes.