Upskilled workforce and digital culture vital if UK is to play digital catch-up

Following the release of a survey that shows the UK is lagging behind when it comes to the success of implementing digital government services, public sector digital technology specialist Agilisys is calling on all levels of government to overcome digital skills shortages and implement a digitally-focused culture.

The response is based on the findings of The State of the Digital Nation report that draws on findings from a survey of over 400 individuals from private and public sector organisations conducted Digital by Default News.

The report outlines that while the drivers for digital transformation may be clear, a portion of the public sector appears to lack the skills needed to make it a reality.

For the most part, it appears organisations struggle to deliver their digital vision because of cost, complexity and a lack of skilled resources, the report points out. When asked to select the three biggest barriers to the delivery of digital services, lack of resources was the most popular response, with 39% of organisations citing it as a barrier. Legacy systems, lack of budget and lack of in-house skills were all equally ranked (36%) as barriers to achieving successful transformation.

These findings imply that organisations perceive migration to digital as both expensive and technically difficult. However, it isn’t just technical difficulties that are holding organisations back – there also appears to be a cultural element, with internal politics (24%), lack of strategy (23%) and lack of buy-in across the organisation (27%) cited often.


Skills and culture

Taken as a whole, most of the organisations in the survey believed they already had at least some of the necessary skills in their organisation to deliver their digital strategy. A total of 89% thought this was true either ‘partially’ (30%) or ‘to a large extent’ (59%).

When talking about digital transformation, the report found that culture is often ignored when compared to concerns about budget and resource, but it is an essential part of the process. Almost a quarter of the organisations surveyed responded that they were largely prepared for the cultural and behavioural challenges required to develop an empowered, networked and flexible workforce. The majority (60%) described their organisations as ‘partially’ prepared.

Building the digital culture of an organisation across every role is vital to future-proof staff and to ensure an organisation can leverage the productivity and efficiency benefits that digital offers.


Sensitivity and consensus

Andrew Mindenhall, Chief Executive at Agilisys, said: “It is a known fact that organisations across both the public and private sector are undergoing phases of massive disruption. Organisations are under pressure to digitise their core services in order to manage demand and meet customer expectations. This usually starts with rethinking their existing processes and the experience they provide to customers, and ends with them completely redesigning core applications and the underlying IT infrastructure.

“Whilst the report highlights that letting go of traditional ways of working is difficult, it is an essential part of the digital transformation process. In our work with the public sector we see organisations striving to encourage their staff to work more collaboratively and move away from functional silos.

“The drastic departure from existing workflow systems and processes that organisations have been accustomed to for several decades has to be handled with sensitivity and consensus building if it is to be successful.”

A copy of the full report can be downloaded here.

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