Breaking down the barriers to transformation

Nick Wilson, Managing Director – Public Sector, Health & Care at Advanced shares his thoughts on barriers to transformation within the public sector

In my opinion, the four main barriers to transformation in the public sector are as follows:

The unknown – most people don’t like change and implementing change across an organisation is no different. Technology changes how multiple teams work and, while some will see it as a positive digital transformation, others will have a lack of knowledge and awareness into how the technology they are being told to use can make a real impact to their authority.

Security – the WannaCry ransomware attack on the NHS hit home that no organisation is immune from an attack. The fact it was largely down to an outdated IT network shows that technology needs to be taken more seriously. Our Advanced Trends Report 2017 shows there is some way to go, with 23% of public sector organisations in the UK unprepared for a cyber attack. So, in actual fact, unless they digitally transform, local authorities will run a greater risk of being a victim of cyber crime.

Complexity – the technology landscape is crowded, so it is no surprise local authorities are struggling to know which technology will deliver on performance without costing the earth. Those wanting to implement a new digital product or service will not only need to cut through the complexity, but also convince the purse string holders that they’ve chosen the right technology for driving efficiencies.

Overpromising – local authorities are often seduced by the promise of single, fully integrated systems which “do everything brilliantly” – the reality is that these rarely deliver to the promise.


Working around the barriers

When it comes to finding ways to work around those barriers, I think there are a number of tactics local authorities can deploy.

Not everyone is familiar with technology. Some will be more receptive to changing their working practices, while others might not. Local authorities should give more support to those that need it and educate them on the benefits of technology. They should work closely with staff to find out their pain points, as this will determine what devices and services they choose to implement.

Before choosing what device or service to adopt, authorities must consider how a transition will impact their staff and customers as well as choose a provider that can illustrate a clear and structured pathway for moving staff and data to a new technology as smoothly as possible.

Now more than ever, organisations must understand the risks of cyber crime and take the necessary steps to mitigate an attack. When choosing a new technology product or service, local authorities must see security as a deciding factor – not an afterthought. Also, it’s down to local authorities to create a culture of security which needs to be led at all levels and backed up with robust policies created and maintained to reduce and detect risks early and regularly. A good internal culture will also make the management of data easier, will carry on through to all interactions with external relationships and hopefully encourage partners to be more security conscious too.

Local authorities should focus on the technology that ‘just works’ – not get distracted by hype that will deliver little value. Choose a partner that delivers public sector focused software solutions that can simplify complex challenges and deliver immediate value – with the security and longevity to match. In addition, work with a provider that will identify additional functionality needs specific to a local authority and be committed to developing a partner eco-system to meet these requirements.

Additionally, don’t be bowled over by the promise of single, fully integrated systems. Authorities may be better off selecting best of breed solutions and then integrating these solutions. This delivers value much more quickly, allowing authorities to be much more nimble, and avoids endless, complex programmes which invariably run late and over budget and rarely deliver to the original vision.

Finally, if they are not already, local authorities should consider a move to the cloud – the backbone of many digital transformation projects. It’s now a case of when, not if, public sector organisations will move to the cloud because it’s increasingly recognised as more cost effective, secure and scalable than traditional IT packages.

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