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Building on the digital foundations of local and central government

It’s just over a year since the UK Government launched its Digital Strategy in June 2022, with ministers heralding the policy as a “vision for harnessing digital transformation and building a more inclusive, competitive and innovative digital economy”.

Beneath the bold statement, the government’s policy document states the importance of Digital Foundations being laid as the bedrock of its strategy. This ranges from critical infrastructure, such as high-speed broadband, to future-facing technology, including Artificial Intelligence.

Yet how are government organisations themselves aligning with their own digital strategy?

Research commissioned by Epson with 150 IT decision makers in central and local government organisations show as many as 98% say they are now familiar with the policy. Despite this high awareness, however, only a third (33%) state their organisation has fully transitioned to digital processes.

Many departments are already moving away from paper-based operations, instead converting documents and data to the cloud. Progress is being made. But with two thirds of IT government still on their digitalisation journey, there remains much to do.


Positive about the opportunities ahead

Our snapshot of views among the government’s IT leaders — the beating heart of government service digitalisation — reveals a largely confident and positive outlook on the journey ahead:

Confidence is high: More than a quarter (27%) say the process of digitisation (converting physical formats to digital) is at a very advanced stage, and nearly all (99%) are certain they can fully digitise workflows.

Paperless productivity: Almost a third (31%) strongly believe relying on paper documents lowers workforce productivity, so it’s not surprising to find that 98% use digital documents at their organisation and say they can be quickly searched or accessed by the workforce.

Green dreams: 97% agree that digitising documents, rather than retaining paper-based processes, can help their organisation achieve its environmental impact goals — another key target for governments globally.

These are the demonstrable benefits of digitisation, but IT leaders say there are other factors to consider in transitioning to a fully digital estate.


Hybrid working brings security into focus

Chief among those is information sharing, particularly as increasing numbers of workers blend home and office working. And it’s a particularly pertinent issue within government as, according to the Office for National Statistics, civil servants and other public sector employees are today more likely to have hybrid working patterns (35%) than their private sector counterparts (26%).

To bring some control over data and information, four in 10 (42%) government IT decision makers have instigated additional protections around document sharing outside of government buildings. The concerns primarily lie with paper documents, with almost a third (31%) of those surveyed believing that sharing and storing paper files is not secure, compared to only 9% for cloud-based files.

Digitising processes is evidently a driver of confidence in the secure sharing and storage of documents and data, particularly as only 8% of IT decision makers think digitalisation presents more of a security risk than paper-based operations.

This presents clear opportunities for IT leaders across central and local government organisations to take advantage of new technologies that not only bring efficiency, but also peace of mind.


A focus on the future

Most IT decision makers agree that the benefits of using digital documents eclipse those of sticking with paper-based processes. And a majority (72%) believe it’s possible for their organisation to digitise 100% of their documents in the future.

There’s a clear opportunity to make great strides across local and central government — and it’s an opportunity that extends to any business on their digitalisation journey.

Paper won’t disappear from workplaces in the near future, but it’s becoming increasingly important to enable those documents to be scanned, uploaded, and digitally shared — securely.

Understanding how digital workflows are used in your organisation is a good start to understand how you can lay firm digital foundations.

Find out more in our new report, Digital Foundations: The Role of Document Scanning Technology in Digitalising Government.

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