By Angela Mitchell, Lead Partner for Scottish Public Sector and UK Public Sector Technology, Deloitte
Technology is a key driver for public sector transformation, making government more effective and public services more accessible for those who rely on them.
Deloitte snapshot research with 815 UK civil servants has identified their views on the role and adoption of technologies, confidence levels in dealing with cyber-attacks and skills and training.
Whilst the results tell us that there is an appreciation of the impact and risks of technological developments, and progress is underway, the public sector appears to be struggling to keep pace.
The potential impact of new technologies to departmental operations and service delivery is well understood by civil servants. However most (88%) see transforming existing IT and cyber (81%) as the main priorities rather than emerging technologies such as Blockchain and IoT. It will be important for public sector CIOs to keep a “watching brief” on new technologies: things that were new tech last year can quickly become mainstream as the technology matures functionally and the price point reduces. It will be important that opportunities are not missed to deliver better services and create more efficient operations.
One interesting fact arising from our research shows that whilst 76% of respondents felt that online interaction with citizens was important, only 46% have explored the opportunity.
Not surprisingly lack of budget (82%) and high perceived costs (74%) were cited as the greatest barriers to new technology adoption. This highlights the importance of having a clear digital strategy and a business case that clearly describes the benefits from the investment: this can help achieve buy-in and ensure that the projects are appropriately prioritised. In our experience, ensuring that citizens and service users are involved in the design and delivery of new technology is critical in promoting successful technology adoption.
The survey was conducted approximately one month after one of the biggest cyber attacks ever within the UK public sector with the WannaCry attack on the NHS. It is clear that civil servants recognise the potential for cyber to disrupt and impact on service delivery (71%) and internal operations (81%). However almost half (44%) are not sure or do not have confidence in their organisations’ ability to withstand a cyber attack (interestingly the more senior civil servants are, the more likely they are to express confidence). The fact that the public sector understands the positive impact of strong and robust cyber security technology is a strength which can be used to promote awareness amongst staff.
Skills shortages are slowing down adoption of new technologies say 62% of respondents, particularly in areas like technology development, service design and user research. At the same time the existing workforce relies heavily on learning skills on the job as opposed to structured training programmes. Whilst on the job training and informal knowledge sharing are effective ways of upskilling staff, they will not necessarily deliver optimum outcomes for organisations.
This is a summary of the key findings – you can read the full findings and recommendations online.