Innovation and changeDigital TransformationHow to overcome the barriers to digital transformation in government

How to overcome the barriers to digital transformation in government

Stephen Twynam, lead technologist for UK government at Citrix discusses how the public sector can overcome the barriers preventing successful moves from traditional infrastructure to more agile services.

The UK Government Transformation Strategy 2017 to 2020 was published in early 2017, mapping out how the government will use digital to transform the relationship between citizens and the state. The opportunity for such transformation is clear and will ultimately bring with it increased flexibility, security and productivity to central government teams, helping to create a truly mobilised workforce that will also attract the best talent. However, we are seeing many initiatives stall at the first hurdle due to a few common barriers to digital transformation.

Yesterday’s apps vs the apps of tomorrow

With so many applications used today, often including legacy in-house applications developed many years ago, there is no guarantee that they will happily run on a dispersed Windows 10 estate, for example. There is also the overlooked challenge of “evergreen” IT and with Windows-as-a-Service and Office 365, updates are coming down the line at a higher cadence than ever and the application lifecycle just may not be compatible. There is also the challenge of applications that hold extremely sensitive data which cannot be distributed outside of the corporate network.

The reality is that existing applications will not be turned off overnight and need to be included within the transformation programme. An enterprise file sync and sharing solution, however, is a simple solution: by decoupling the application from the endpoint, the department has greater control over lifecycle management and the guarantee that any changes to the device will not affect the application. It is also possible to enforce compliance for more sensitive applications.

Solving the data puzzle

With the shift to more cloud-based services, the natural step is to centralise control and access to data. Office 365 provides this through SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, but this is only one part of the data puzzle. With multiple locations to access data and different ways to share and collaborate, a myriad of security questions arise, and the user experience becomes extremely complicated.

The ideal solution is to offer a single application that can manage data in multiple locations while improving security and compliance, user experience and productivity. Data can be stored where it makes sense and employees are enabled to securely access and share data through a single application, even across mobile devices.

Control internet access to avoid any nasty surprises

Access to the internet is paramount to a successful digital transformation programme. On-prem and behind the corporate firewall, it is relatively simple to control internet access and make sure that nothing nasty is coming through to the endpoint. However, once outside of the corporate boundaries, it becomes much harder to control access to the internet. Requiring employees to connect back to the network via a clunky VPN just isn’t very practical and will put more strain on the network while providing a poor user experience.

The ideal approach is to decouple internet browsing from the endpoint. Through context aware policies, government departments can redirect internet browsing to a cloud-hosted web browser session that is completely isolated from the device and network. This means that even if the browser session is compromised, the device will not be.

Single Sign-On = the glue between apps and data

Many public sector customers talk about giving the best user experience to their employees, but this is falling short in one key area. Even with a new Windows 10 device, access to leading collaboration tools and applications doesn’t guarantee a seamless user experience. If employees are still having to authenticate multiple times when launching applications or services that may be accessed locally and remotely, there is a strong case for Single Sign-On. Once an employee authenticates, they shouldn’t have to authenticate again just because the application they launch has a different login mechanism.

There are a multitude of challenges faced by a public sector undergoing Digital Transformation, but they can all be overcome with the right support, combined with deep sector understanding. It is encouraging that government is motivated to leverage cloud-based services, and once the hurdles are addressed, progress will notably accelerate, bringing with it huge benefits for central government and citizens alike.

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