Axians Andy Butcher talks through some of the general technology changes involved in the immense, ongoing machinations of government digital transformation
Advances in technology are transforming the way we operate and consequently changing the way the government interacts with the public. The digital industry is evolving at lightning speed and keeping up with it can be challenging. Currently, the government relies heavily on older IT infrastructure, which can hold them back on delivering high-quality service that is expected.
Whilst the government is starting to adopt new technologies, often the required skills are missing and therefore value isn’t being generated. The question is raised as to whether the government should concentrate less on changing technology for the sake of it, and focus instead on making the most out of technology.
Optimising digital solutions and services has become a top priority for the government. The adoption of IoT has increased drastically, making cities smarter even more efficient. However, arguably the government is lacking the skills necessary to manage these new solutions and execute robust projects. Digital advances require strong leadership and business investment in appropriate technical platforms, yet some of the programmes being used are currently supported by systems that are over 20 years old.
Over half of government departments aren’t future proofing, and it has become even more clear that they may be lacking the appropriate skills to make the most of innovations in technology.
Many government bodies will also see new technologies as expensive and a waste of resources if what they currently have is still working, and therefore are not simply replacing this technology for the sake of it. However, they should still be focusing on embracing an overarching strategy with clear objectives and goals outlined for digital transformation.
Cloud is one example of a technology that is often rushed and implemented with little thought. Although moving to the cloud is usually one of the first steps organisations take when are going through a digital transformation, many do not have a clear strategy of how they will make the change to cloud and how old applications will work with the new system.
Cloud computing has many attributes that can be beneficial for the government. With Gartner reporting that almost half of government organisations are already actively using cloud services, it is clearly a solution of choice. Low maintenance is one factor that is appealing; being extremely busy, IT teams do not have the time to worry about the upkeep of a system – therefore, the cloud is an ideal solution. Furthermore, budgets are tight within the government, and cloud solutions are a good, low-cost option that can improve productivity.
5G technology is becoming more mainstream and used widely in a number of industries, however, the government still seems to be behind with this trend. The adoption of 5G offers the government a real opportunity to connect with the public. With remote working becoming more popular, 5G also offers staff the ability to work from different locations while still being able to engage with employees and the public on their mobile device.
Cyber security can be a big issue when dealing with the cloud and digital transformation. Cyber attacks are a major risk for government bodies, which are trying to tackle the threat in order to protect critical valuable information. Although attacks on core government departments are a major concern, they are also a worry for local councillors and external government staff. External government staff can be a target for hackers, as they are not always knowledgeable about the best way to stay safe online, leaving them prime targets for hackers.
There is a high volume of information now stored online and ensuring it is able to move across systems securely is crucial for the sector.
The Blockchain Evolution
Blockchain is another technological innovation that has caught the eyes of the government, however widespread implementation of it is still a long way off. Blockchain offers government bodies the ability to provide a secure, trustworthy and transparent service while improving communication with its citizens. The government is adopting blockchain to help drive efficiency with transportation, taxation, digital currencies and voting. Blockchain is able to provide secure access to public sector data, which in the long run will help ensure all information is kept safe.
The Future of the Government
Transporting the government through a digital journey will be a steady process. With technology changing at breakneck speed, infrastructures need to be put in place to help incorporate new platforms in the future. The government needs to focus on the value of technology and acquiring the appropriate necessary skills. There has already been significant progress, with research highlighting that since 2012, it has been a priority for the government to recruit more digital and technology specialists in order to improve the government’s technical capability. It will be interesting to see this evolve and adapt through the years.