How is the public sector walking the digital tightrope?
As private sector digitalisation booms and sectors such as retail and financial services have catapulted their way into our digital hearts, it remains apparent that some sectors are far less confident.
In a recent report from Fujitsu, “Walking the Digital Tightrope”, public sector organisations across Europe admitted they feel unconfident and under-skilled when it comes to digitalisation.
12% of those surveyed feel they are not mature in the adoption of digital solutions vs. 8% average across the other sectors surveyed.
What’s more, 58% of organisations admit their digital projects are considered gambles due to a lack of two fundamental elements: strategy and skill.
No clear digital strategy
Our research reported over a third of organisations do not have a clear digital strategy – 51% do not have the right skillset to successfully deliver any projects they might have, and 58% say hindrances to decision-making confidence are holding them back.
In the public sector digitalisation is often driven by cost and time pressures. As governments look to make efficiencies, digital is the tool to help them do it.
Governments therefore need to address these skill issues if they are to realise the benefits of digitalisation for themselves and their citizens.
Balancing the cost of training vs. outsourcing
Although the ability to assess and implement digital projects can be achieved to some degree through long-term training or the recruitment of digitally skilled employees, this must be balanced with the cost of falling back on expensive day-rate consultants.
Public sector bodies also don’t do enough to make better use of their relationships with IT suppliers. IT partners can be a valuable resource for digital insight, particularly when organisations are scoping and planning digital projects.
By working through the UK’s industry body techUK, for example, it is possible to consult with stakeholders without compromising the procurement process.
Holding suppliers at arm’s length is not necessarily to public bodies’ advantage and we have seen several departments join together with suppliers to run “hackathons” to help learn from each other and drive innovation.
Taking the digital leap of faith
Until we can address the skills required to address the lack of digital confidence, some solutions may be more obvious than we realise.
Last year the Government announced it would aim to run public services like businesses to increase efficiency, and this would include the streamlining of back office functions.
Through shared services, digitalisation can offer the opportunity to group these services together across offices and organisations to improve efficiencies and savings.
The benefits of digital are clear: efficiency, productivity, improved services and increased citizen satisfaction.
Digitalisation offers clear advantages, while the proliferation of digital technology in other sectors is generating increased expectations on public services.
Taking the digital leap of faith may feel uncomfortable, but the benefits are undeniable and industry wants to help.
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