Demystifying Digital Transformation In The Public Sector

Agenda NI article, October 2017

Written by Clare Patterson, Head of Marketing, Equiniti Belfast

In recent years the UK Government has made efforts to modernise how it works. It is the relentless pace of technological progress and the growing expectation of citizens for on-demand services that has led the UK Government to invest over £1.8 billion in digital transformation through the Government Transformation Strategy (2017-2020). The aim of this strategy is to “transform the way government operates from front end to back office, in a modern and efficient way”.

Digitising government will have its challenges due to the need for high levels of compliance, large volumes of personal data and a diverse range of mission-critical responsibilities. The intricate environment in which the Public Sector operates in means a lot of its work is complex, confidential and critical to the smooth day-to-day running of the country. For the Public Sector to operate more effectively, it needs to embrace digital technologies to allow it to open up lines of communication and improve business processes.

But what do we mean by ‘digital transformation’? For many of us when we think about digital we think of a device, such as a smart phone or laptop. But digital is much more than technological advances. In essence, it’s all about connections - it’s what helps us enhance communications, transactions and networks. It gives us information at our fingertips and allows us to enhance the customer journey and provide world-class services on a large and personal scale. When carefully managed, digital transformation will promote innovative and agile thinking, helping us to stay ahead of the curve and future-proof our work. Essentially, digital has the capacity to transform how we do business by allowing us to work smarter and faster.

To help transform the Northern Ireland Public Sector through digital, there needs to be a robust framework for innovation and change management. The key will be to target priority areas first and seek buy-in from Public Servants from the beginning. For too long the Public Sector has maintained paper-driven and laborious manual tasks, with disparities from one department to the next, costing the UK economy over £600 billion each year. It is clear that legacy systems need to be modernized, business processes streamlined and technologies such as citizen portals, biometrics and mobile workforce solutions will bring about efficiencies across departments and boost productivity. Standardisation can be achieved by introducing solutions such as process automation, digital data and networks. The key to the successful implementation of digital business solutions is guiding employees through new procedures and helping them to harness digital skills. Research by Equiniti Belfast has shown that empowering employees with technology which supports them in their roles improves productivity and workplace satisfaction.

Back-office processes are seen as the backbone of Public Sector and once these are re-shaped and digitised for Public Servants, front-end services will begin to improve and meet the growing demands of the population. Citizens will benefit from a faster and more personalised service, similar to that which they receive from the private sector, such as ePayments and digital on-boarding. Digital Transformation and digital services in the Public Sector are now a necessity to ensure that they meet the needs of the modern citizen, where service accessibility is key. They have come to expect services when they want them, where they want them and how they want them and if the Public Sector is to keep up, they need to offer the same level of service.

At Equiniti, we believe that Digital Transformation provides organisations with innovative technology that de-risks projects, shortens time to value and improves the overall customer experience. The belief is that, in essence, Digital Transformation enables organisations to achieve more and new with less.

The end goal has to be the creation of a digital ecosystem in Northern Ireland that all relevant stakeholders can feed in to so there is transparency and traceability for the work that the Public Sector does. The result will be heightened staff productivity and world-class services for Citizens - an important foundation for economic growth.

Clare Patterson is Head of Marketing for Equiniti and can be contacted on the details below.

Tel: 
02890 454166

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