One of the best parts of my job is that I talk to a lot of public sector leaders about technology. One recurring theme in those conversations is that people tend to underestimate progress in their own organisations while overestimating progress elsewhere – inevitably, many wrongly assume that others are striding ahead of them with digital transformation. The same is true in the private sector as well, and it’s one of the reasons that Deloitte has developed a Digital Disruption Index. We wanted to explore the realities of ‘digital maturity’ and the factors behind it.
Our third index is out this month, based on self-assessments from 158 digital executives working in major organisations across different parts of the UK economy, including large public bodies. Overall, it shows that most organisations are striving towards greater digital maturity, but still consider themselves as works in progress.
The results certainly underscore the importance of digital technology to organisations in every sector. Some three quarters of participants believe that digital is fundamentally changing their organisation and more than half report that they have an active, coherent strategy to exploit it.
The index also points to the growing footprint of ‘fourth industrial revolution’ technologies. 54% of executives told us that their organisations have invested in artificial intelligence, and more than 80% expect that they will have done so by next year. It’s early days, with just 10% of participants saying that they have scaled up their AI, but these results suggest technologies like robotics are moving into the mainstream at a brisker pace than many anticipated.
Less encouraging are the executives’ views on digital skills. Only a quarter told us that their talent pool has the right capabilities to deliver their digital strategy, and 65% think that their organisation’s learning curriculum has the right material to change that. And looking at the talent pipeline, only 18% that school leavers and graduates have got the right digital skills.
There is clearly a lot to do to tackle this digital skills deficit. In my experience, the answer should begin within organisations, with learning programmes that deliver the skills needed to execute strategies. The UK’s wider education and skills system needs to evolve, as it always has in the past but now at a faster pace – the kinds of skills needed for digital change continually, so it’s more important than ever that employers and educators work together to shape the right skills mix to fill future demand.
Thirty leading digital executives in the public sector helped inform the index. When asked to rate their organisations on a scale of 1 to 10 – where 10 is a digital exemplar – they gave an average score of 4.67 which falls in the most popular range among private sector participants as well. More than half said that their organisation has a coherent digital strategy. And the majority agreed that digital is fundamentally changing their organisation. In other words, the journey towards digital transformation is as energised in the public sector as the private.
When asked to name technologies with the most strategic importance to them, public sector participants described cyber security, data analytics and cloud as their top three, and the three areas that are attracting the most investment. The index also shows that the two areas in which they expect to invest in the year ahead are robotics and data analytics. Put together, these findings describe a sector that is moving at pace to get its basics right, but sighted on the possibilities ahead.
Read more in the Digital Disruption Index, online here.
We’re looking for technology experts to join our Scottish team to help deliver the public services of the future, find out more here.