Innovation and changeDigital TransformationWhy government is right to embrace digital first strategy

Why government is right to embrace digital first strategy

By Patrick Mayer – Government Account Manager at leading cloud services and data science specialist Cloud Technology Solutions

The UK government has embraced the concept of digital transformation and digital first strategy wholeheartedly.

Keen to position the UK as a digital leader globally, it has produced its own transformation strategy, which aims to revolutionise the relationship between citizens and the state.

Becoming ‘digital by default’ is its aspiration for the civil service.

This forward-thinking approach means that the government, not always recognised for its agility and enterprise, is one of the leaders in digital adoption today. So why has it been so eager to commit to digital transformation?

Solving the UK’s productivity puzzle

UK productivity is suffering from a crisis, for which the government is urgently seeking an answer. Labour productivity over the past decade has been lower than at any point during the 20th century. It has taken the UK ten years to deliver two per cent growth, which was historically delivered in one year. It’s a situation the Office for National Statistics has called the ‘productivity puzzle’ – and there does not appear to be a simple solution.

In looking to address the crisis, the government has taken a pro-active approach and sought to lead by example through its digital transformation strategy. By doing so, it has been able to deliver considerable efficiencies and improve productivity. Adopting cloud technology has created the ability to work on collaborative documents remotely and simultaneously. The opportunity for rapid analysis of vast volumes of data and accurate forecasting through machine learning has also been unlocked. This is in addition to the ability to create shareable dashboards filled with tailored data insights that can better inform decisions.

These benefits are illustrated by the recent cloud migration undertaken by the Department for Transport (DfT). The government department worked with Cloud Technology Solutions (CTS) to migrate its in-house application – Latest Earnings Network Nationally Overnight (LENNON) – to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), which lets anyone build, deploy, and scale applications, websites, and services on the same infrastructure as Google.

It’s not just at the national level that the benefits of a digital first strategy are being realised either. Manchester City Council also recently worked with CTS to tackle its inefficient legacy IT system. In its place, the council wanted modern IT infrastructure that could deliver more for less – helping staff, partners and residents collaborate and communicate more easily.

To deliver this, the council moved away from its existing on-premise IT system and migrated more than 8,000 of its staff to G Suite. This gave staff the ability to work remotely and in real time on collaborative documents using G Suite’s productivity tools. As part of the project to transform working practices across the council, smart phones, tablets and laptops were rolled out across the team – giving employees the tools to significantly boost their productivity. This reduced the inefficiencies and costs associated with operating on a legacy on-premise IT system and allowed the council to embrace a more flexible and agile approach.

Data security

It’s clear digital transformation projects can have a major impact on efficiency, productivity and data analysis. However, there are several key issues to bear in mind when deciding whether to undertake a digital transformation project.

Data security is one of these – and it is extremely important. 66 per cent of IT professionals say security is their most significant concern when adopting a cloud computing strategy. For the government and its agencies, the need for stringent data security is clear. Cyber attacks pose a significant threat, and the state needs to protect the sensitive information it holds with a robust strategy.

One of the reasons the UK government has felt comfortable embracing a digital first strategy is that the security credentials of cloud migration and infrastructure are highly robust. Data can be encrypted prior to, during and after the migration process. This ensures the transit of data does not create an increased security risk. Once data is migrated to cloud infrastructure, it is highly likely to be more secure than under any previous on-premise IT system.

Taking GCP as an example, any organisation that migrates its data to that platform will benefit from the security budget and expertise of Google itself. All data held is encrypted when at rest and in transition. Organisations can take steps to ensure their internal protocols maximise data security. Permissions can be assigned across an organisation to ensure employees only have access to the data required for their day-to-day operations. Access can be tiered and directed so that more access can be extended to those with higher security clearance. Putting these measures in place means that, in the event of a data leak, its source can be traced quickly.

Disaster recovery is also greatly enhanced by cloud infrastructure. This is because the virtual server on which an organisation’s operating system, applications, patches and data is stored can be backed up and copied to an offsite data center. Typically, all data held on the cloud is backed up a minimum of three times. That means that if data is lost, it can be rapidly restored with minimal disruption. This is often not the case with on-premise IT systems, where data recovery can prove to be an arduous and time-consuming process.

Leading by example

In its openness to digital transformation, the UK government has set a standard for businesses and organisations across the UK to aspire to. The significant data analysis and productivity benefits it has been able to unlock serve as a tangible example of the benefits digitally-transformed working practices can bring.

By entrusting its considerable security requirements to cloud technology too, the UK government has also sent a clear message about its security credentials. This may resonate with other sectors, such as financial services and healthcare, where stringent data security is of vital importance.

As we look to the future, the working practices associated with digitally transformed organisations will become increasingly common place. The advent of 5G technology is set to accelerate the UK’s move towards data-based insight and flexible working practices.

Those organisations that do not implement a forward-thinking digital strategy and are unable to harness the power of digital transformation will find themselves left behind.

Related Articles

The need for balance in digitising public services

Digital Transformation The need for balance in digitising public services

3y Afshin Attari
Digital lags behind in healthcare: Deloitte report

Digital Skills Digital lags behind in healthcare: Deloitte report

3y Jay Ashar
Where are all the change managers delivering “digitisation”?

Change Management Where are all the change managers delivering “digitisation”?

3y Romy Hughes
Salford City Council to host three events for Digital Leaders week

Digital Transformation Salford City Council to host three events for Digital Leaders week

3y Jay Ashar
Somerset County Council invests in adult social care case management tech

Adult Social Care Somerset County Council invests in adult social care case management tech

3y Jay Ashar
Free NHS WiFi to benefit millions of patients

Digital Transformation Free NHS WiFi to benefit millions of patients

3y Jay Ashar
Police IT budgets focused on digital transformation and cloud

Cloud Computing Police IT budgets focused on digital transformation and cloud

3y Jay Ashar
Most of NHS trusts yet to go for fully digital patient records

Digital Transformation Most of NHS trusts yet to go for fully digital patient records

3y Jay Ashar