Ahead of Digital Government 2019 we caught up with Steve Wreyford Hind, Digital Expert at PA Consulting to talk about innovative technologies and what the future looks like for public sector organisations.
What are the most innovative technologies that you have encountered through your work in the sector?
I worked on GOV.UK Verify in the early days (2012). The hub we built to allow private sector organisations to check and assert a user’s identity privately and securely online is still a very innovative system.
What do you believe to be the key challenges for public sector organisations working to become ‘digital at the core’ in the next five years?
I believe that one of the key challenges for the majority of public sector organisations will be their ability to master the four C’s; Capability, Capacity, Culture and Commitment.
- Capability – developing and nurturing skills internally
- Capacity – being able to access enough of the right talent to meet objectives
- Culture – providing a great, open and collaborative working environment
- Commitment – getting the whole of the organisation behind the transformation team, removing barriers and providing new technology and tools as and where necessary
With that in mind, how does the future look for public sector organisations?
Very good, but only if the four C’s are addressed within each organisation and across the sector. We’re currently at a turning point in digital organisation maturity, which I recently heard called the ‘Digital Spring’. If public sector organisations can achieve internal buy-in to the changes expected, then digital transformation will be a lot smoother.
Can you tell me more about ensuring sustainability by mainstreaming digital skills?
The early adopters need to hand over to the rest of the herd. We need to normalise the cultures and practices of native agile organisations – there are still a lot of 20th Century behaviours and technologies in many organisations and this is quite common throughout the public sector. The journey to the brave new digital world is nothing to be scared of, but it does involve people being outside of their comfort zones. However, to overcome this, there are highly trained professionals, coaches and guides that can help any organisation along the way.
What would you say were the key benefits of bringing the worlds of policy and digital together?
As the Government Digital Service alumni would have it ‘The strategy is delivery’ – and the delivery should be the policy.
One benefit is the real time visibility of policy impact; users’ needs met, benefits delivered etc. The ability to iterate policy changes into live services is a compelling opportunity and in the current climate, policy makers have never had such reliable, and fresh data with which to shape the future and develop their policies.
What do you feel is the main priority for public sector organisations looking to provide a high standard of digital service to their clients?
The main priority for a number of organisations, specifically in the public sector, is identifying their users’ needs and adapting their digital transformation to ensure the user is at the centre of their transformation plans. With the public using online resources more now than ever before, and organisations having the ability to track and collate that information and data to improve their service, there is no reason the public sector can’t create processes that ensure user satisfaction is delivered in a much more efficient and effective way.