Innovation and changeDigital TransformationSeven digital government trends for 2018: A mid-year update

Seven digital government trends for 2018: A mid-year update

Earlier this year, Tim Pitts, Managing Partner at Agilisys, outlined the seven digital government trends to look out for in 2018. As we reach the midpoint of the year, how does he see those trends developing?

Earlier this year, Tim Pitts, Managing Partner at Agilisys, outlined the seven digital government trends to look out for in 2018. As we reach the midpoint of the year, how does he see those trends developing?

Trend #1 – Optimising existing digital investments

While we continue to see a focus on digitisation of transactions as one would expect, in the many conversations we’ve had with local authorities there has been a noticeable change in focus. There is a clear shift from digitisation purely driven by looking internally at processes and trying to automate, to one that focuses on actual customer digital behaviour, as well as holistically understanding failure demand across all channels, and using data to prioritise investment. In many cases the change is subtle, but it is a fundamental one.

It’s also noticeable how councils are increasingly using data to inform decisions, whether that’s data from sources such as Google analytics, or understanding the search terms citizens are using to find services.

I’ve also not seen before such a concerted drive to ensure customer service can be delivered across the different channels being used by citizens. Overall, there’s much more of a joined-up, holistic approach being put in place.

 

Trend #2 – Digital identities

While Verify continues to struggle to gain traction, there’s an argument that it will become ubiquitous and come into its own in two or three years’ time when the majority of people will have used it for central government transactions, and at that point it will trickle down to Local Government. However, there is a potential silver lining as other identity frameworks are looking to bring Verify into their fold.  For example, the emergence of Microsoft’s all-singing-all-dancing citizen ID gateway has the potential to glue together Verify, Facebook and so on.

In addition, we’re seeing more creativity in the identity space. A good example being the Open Identity Exchange (OIX) digital log-book pilot project, who are working with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to try and create a digital ID for people who don’t typically have digital access. These people are traditionally difficult to interact with digitally, so apart from the social benefits there are potentially great financial benefits for councils.

There are also flickerings of life at The Ministry of HousingCommunities and Local Government (MHCLG), who are trying to standardise the approach to digital in local government. At a slight tangential to verification, one of the big unnecessary costs facing the public sector is the lack of standards on web-portal integration – at the heart of this is the passing of customer identity between portals.

One initiative we have been pushing, through the LPSC committee at TechUK, to MHCLG is to standardise the approach to passing identity data between web portals (i.e. a Single Sign-On standard), which we estimate will save the public purse over £50m.

 

Trend #3 – Robotics, bots & AI

There has been a lot of noise in this space in the last six months. I’ve seen a number of local authorities start to dip their toes in the water, although this is very much in pilot phases so far. We are aware of a couple of authorities making a very large bet in this space though, so expect to hear a lot more about this in the coming months.

The lack of technical expertise required to get Robotic Process Automation (RPA) operational means that this technology is far more accessible than API integration, so the market is likely to move a lot quicker. Any officer with a decent process background will be able to automate a lot of linear processes using RPA. As a result, I expect to see a lot of pilots this year using this technology and I think the rate of adoption will accelerate rapidly. I also predict that as more organisations combine RPA, AI and bot technology in interesting use cases we’ll see some very helpful developments. AI and bot technology however requires a more technical background and I therefore expect to see this grow at a much slower rate.

Driving this, to a degree, is the adoption of technology by consumers. Advances in the AI space around end-user devices – items such as Amazon Show – will bring a whole suite of new technology solutions to address challenges previously deemed impossible. A good example is the bridging of social care and health in the home using AI to learn user behaviours and patterns, monitoring medication taking, and helping those with dementia through use of both visuals and voice. Technology could very quickly lead to the phasing out of traditional telecare solutions. PA Consulting and Alcove have recently made great strides in this space.

I can’t wait to see what happens with the new Google Duplex technology – and it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on as I believe it will be a valuable tool for the public sector.

 

Trend #4 – Creative use of data

GDPR – surprise, surprise – has been a huge driver of interest and change in data management. Not least because people are more aware of data and the precautions that need to be taken to protect it.

Interestingly though, it has also reminded the public sector of the opportunities that surround data. I’ve seen a resurgence and renewed focus on MDM, as data from numerous sources is brought together in a way that hasn’t be looked at before (presumably behind Civica’s decision to buy VisionWare). It has also encouraged suppliers to release new products into the market such as the Pitney Bowes Spectrum product, which is leaps and bounds ahead of much of the competition in terms of deployment and data reach.

I expect, in the next six to twelve months, to see an increase in the use of aggregated data and the use of data insight into customers, which will support the first trend I mentioned above.

Another reason why I say this is that it’ll generate a return on the investment made into GDPR, which hasn’t come cheap!

 

Trend #5 – Internet of Things (IoT)

This one continues to bumble along in the background alongside Smart Cities, with places like London, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham taking a strong lead.

It was interesting to see a number of the LGC awards this year were focused on this space and there are some neat examples of the optimised use of lighting, traffic management and smart parking, which is being used in Cardiff for example.

 

Trend #6 – Digital marketing

Given the challenges of GDPR and the time and resource that it has commanded, this area is getting a surprising amount of focus, not just in terms of improving outcomes, but also in tackling traditional challenges in new ways. The examples laid out in the last article continue to make sense.

Councils have an ongoing need to generate more revenue, drive behavioural change and, of course, cut costs. Solutions are being sought, more and more, to find technology-driven solutions to perennial problems, in a way it wasn’t 18 months ago.

 

Trend #7 – Drones

It is still early days and it will be interesting to see how this develops over time. The introduction of new regulations might help clarify what local authorities can and can’t do with drones, but only time will tell.

Related Articles

Parts of OS MasterMap to be unlocked

Data Insight Parts of OS MasterMap to be unlocked

4m Austin Clark
Using open data to redesign public services

Data Insight Using open data to redesign public services

4m Austin Clark
People analytics: a threat or an opportunity?

Change Management People analytics: a threat or an opportunity?

5m Guest Writer
Agenda for new algorithmic ethics agency set out by select committee

Data Insight Agenda for new algorithmic ethics agency set out by select committee

5m Austin Clark
ICO launches new data protection campaign to mark 'GDPR Day'

Data Insight ICO launches new data protection campaign to mark 'GDPR Day'

5m Austin Clark
New funding to improve care through technology welcomed

Adult Social Care New funding to improve care through technology welcomed

5m Austin Clark
All London boroughs sign up to database of rogue landlords

Data Insight All London boroughs sign up to database of rogue landlords

5m Austin Clark
The role of technology in adult social care

Adult Social Care The role of technology in adult social care

5m Austin Clark