19th February 2016
Revolution is required: taking a holistic approach to digital transformation
As we’re all aware, George Osborne announced a £450 million commitment to the Government Digital Services (GDS) in his latest budget just four months ago. This figure speaks volumes about the challenge public services of all shapes and sizes face trying to juggle digital transformation, digital exclusion, and the government’s digital agenda.
The continued overall goal is for everything to be “digital by design”. It’s not hard to see why when there’s overwhelming evidence for the cost-saving and efficiency potential. The Gov.uk Pay project, which would allow various departments to adopt a PayPal-like payment button to speed up online transactions, is predicted to save £1.3 billion over the course of the new Parliament alone.
This digital drive also caters to the evolving needs of the majority of the nation, 78 percent of whom use the internet every day, with 76 percent using it to buy goods or services. The average time the average UK citizen spends online has actually doubled in the last decade. And of course, let’s not forget that smartphones are now our favourite way of doing so. According to Ofcom, we are officially a smartphone society.
While this obsession with technology will continue to be pushed forwards by Generation Y and younger, we must not forget that people are also living longer and that the population is becoming more and more diverse. ONS predicts that by 2025, the UK population will reach 70 million, 25% of who will be non-British and one in five people will be 65 or over. This particularly vulnerable section of the population typically struggle to access online services, so it’s not enough to just “put everything online”. We must design services around people, not policies and focus on outcomes
As we discuss in our ‘Enabling a new world of public service delivery’ report, organisations need to reshape their community approach by gaining an understanding of what their audience needs and to tailor services appropriately.
Rather than spreading resources thinly, focusing on what is important. Cutting out the nice to haves, delivering the basics well and charging for top-up services. And perhaps most importantly, encouraging self-service. If you develop services which tap into what your community actually need and educate people on how to use them, they will continue to do so with minimal support. For many citizens, self-service equals empowerment; particularly the Google generation who’ve grown up being able to find the answers to their questions instantly and for whom convenience
But of course, this means a dramatic cultural shift. Both in the relationship that end-users have with public service providers and also within the organisations delivering them. Despite the sector having started to make some headway in its journey to re-design and integrate services, many are still constrained by the habits of old.
Ultimately a revolution is required to ensure the radical changes required happen, and continue to happen as citizen needs evolve. Our new report ‘Invigorating the Public Sector Revolution’, which encompasses the perspective from Civica’s Leadership Forum of public and private sector executives, analyses what’s holding back this revolution and how to lead a progressive workforce to empower the digital citizen. The discussion highlighted five practical steps to invigorate a cultural revolution to lead a successful transformation:
1. Create a winning change task force: Identify key revolutionaries from your workforce and set them clear objectives to drive change
2. Set a compelling vision: Work to create a single and clear vision which is understood at every level of the organisation
3. Revolutionise the organisational structure: Move away from a traditional hierarchical structure and build a flatter one, where silos are broken down and democracy is devolved amongst the entire workforce
4. Create an empowering people plan: This plan should create a can-do culture and inspire future leaders
5. Practice what you preach: Ensure that even the leaders learn from others through peer networking, attending knowledge sharing sessions, job-shadowing, and secondments.
Above and beyond this, Civica believes that a nationally-funded programme is required to arm leaders with the skills they require to meet future demands and effectively manage the significant change; as well as increasing expectation using tools and technology available to encourage collaboration and innovation. Only by taking a holistic approach to the way we approach digital transformation, involving citizens, employers, and leaders, will be able to change for the better and meet the nation’s diverse needs as well as the government’s targets.
By Chris Ginnelly, Managing Director, Civica Digital Solutions