Cutting the costs of government, not just cutting the costs of IT
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking at the Central Government Business & Technology Conference, considering how IT should be looked at as a way of saving money through enabling wider change within an organisation.The UK population is estimated to rise by 24% to 77 million by 2050. In the same period, urban migration will mean two thirds of people globally will live in cities, compared to the half that do now, and more than a fifth of us will be aged 60 and over.
Demand for our public services will therefore only increase. We’re living in a time however when it’s going to be financially painful to increase capacity. As a result there are huge challenges on the horizon for healthcare, transport, justice, housing, and more.
These megatrends are shaping the future in which we will be living and working. They will increasingly shape the expectations that citizens have of government and the way they want to see services to them being provided.
Alongside these are a number of Government IT challenges. For instance, the complexities of legacy estates, paired with the need to deliver new digital services. Two-speed IT leaves technologists needing to balance ‘keeping the lights on’ with transforming the organisation.
Supply chains are also evolving, with SMEs increasingly becoming an essential part of our national economic competitiveness.
Fujitsu’s Collaboration Nation research found that a whopping 71% of SMEs plan to work with larger suppliers in bids, and 82% said that collaborating with bigger business helps provide the step-up they need to win big contracts with government.
Then there are the challenges facing staff. Our recent Digital Inside Out research found the top three demands of technology for employees in the public sector are the ability to work remotely, being able to access data in real-time, and technology helping them save time.
Given that UK taxpayers fund an estimated £20bn per year on buildings maintenance, mobile working offers a big opportunity for enhancing the way Whitehall works while also protecting the public purse.
Fully enabled mobile working also provides those staff with digital services that allow them to be more efficient and effective – for instance digitising inbound mail, and using electronic records management and workflow systems to expedite the processing of them thus freeing time to deliver citizen services.
Shared services too are arguably the beginning of a wider movement to provide common services across or between departments with substantial financial benefits available, as well as increasing consistency across Government.
With departments increasingly sharing systems it will be possible to really start making the most of the data that Government holds. Big Data can enable predictive healthcare, and substantial reductions in fraud and error can be made – at Fujitsu we’ve helped save over £400m for HMRC in the last few years doing just that.
The challenge for public sector leaders is that of delivering change and a good way of breaking down the barriers is to bring the technology to life with a real example.
At the conference I was joined on stage by the Chief Executive of Cafcass, Anthony Douglas CBE, who spoke of how Fujitsu’s 8-year technology partnership has helped transform his organisation.
Cafcass represents 120,000 children every year helping them to make responsible and informed lifelong decisions required as part of the court processes of divorce.
We’re proud to deliver end-to-end services that have brought benefits to staff and ultimately the families and children they serve.
All staff have been given 4G laptops or tablets allowing them to work flexibly at home, in the office, at court, or when travelling to visit service users. Video-conferencing has also reduced the need to travel to offices for meetings.
Cafcass has also become almost entirely paperless. We have digitised more than 2.5 billion images so digital case files can be made available online. This means social workers no longer have to transport heavy case bundles to court.
On top of this, a new electronic case management system drastically reduces the time taken by social workers on case bureaucracy, freeing up more time for staff to focus on looking after the children.
It’s examples like this that will really help show the potential that technology can unlock in an organisation.
With such big global challenges facing us all today, it’s good to see central government harnessing technology to provide some of the answers to these problems, but Cafcass is just one area of the public sector.
There is still a lot of work to digitise government and Fujitsu is committed to supporting it to make that happen.
Watch how Fujitsu are helping to shape the future of digital government services below and come talk to us at the Public Sector Enterprise ICT conference on November 10th.
Image credit: Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons
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