Public Services > Central Government

Theory & practice: digital transformation and the government

Published 06 November 2015

Ahead of IBM's forthcoming BusinessConnect 2015 event, Sharon Bagshaw, vice-president, central government and defence, IBM UK and Ireland, considers Whitehall's digital transformation progress


Since the government launched its Digital Strategy with the aim of revolutionising how public services are delivered; the UK public sector has been focused on digital transformation and how digital technologies are driving dramatic changes in the UK economy.

The last twelve months has seen significant steps taken to move the government's digital transformation from the theory books into practice.Earlier in the year the government established a Digital Infrastructure Taskforce - led by the minister for culture and the digital economy Ed Vaizey - which is likely to play the key role in producing the Chancellor's digital plan. George Osborne is also continuing to navigate a course that should see a Digital Transformation Plan levied before the end of the year.

While a digital transformation of the wider business and governmental landscapes is a fundamentally economic necessity, the delivery of these new services to British citizens is likely to involve both digital and physical channels, as local and central government add digital service channels on the back of cost pressures, citizen demand and central government mandate.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) Transformation Programme has been spearheading the digital charge, for the transformation of government by redesigning, rebuilding and transforming, 25 services across eight different departments and a range of agencies across the UK - the goal; to achieve 'Digital By Default' and improve the digital skills and expertise in each of the departments and agencies.

Digital transformation has an important role to play in raising productivity and meeting the increasing demands on public services. It is therefore more crucial than ever that the government is in tune with technological advances and their implications on citizen expectations, security and public service delivery.

The key to the government's grand 'digital' plan will be its willingness to accept the need to use technology as a tool to drive innovation in its understanding of people and place. Looking ahead to 2016 and beyond, there will be an increasing necessity for government at both national and local levels to interact more with citizens; foster the interaction of citizens with each other, and explore how these outcomes can be used to best effect.

While the latest wave of digital innovation is critical to enabling a fundamental redefinition of the purpose and role of government, by successfully implementing digital transformation, public services can enable the citizen to take a bigger stake in their own daily, more digital lives.

All very positive moves I hear you say, but what will this plan actually deliver and how will it impact the lives of the public? Sign up for IBM's Business Connect on the 17th November, come along, and find out.

Sharon Bagshaw is vice-president, central government and defence at IBM UK and Ireland

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