Covid-19 changed everything about the way we work, and, in many ways, that change has brought progress.
We’re now 10 years on since the UK Government unveiled its Digital Strategy – a strategy set to display government commitment to transformation, and the improvement of its services. Despite this, the public sector is still facing a myriad of workflow obstacles. Teams continue to work on siloed, inefficient digital systems that ultimately impact their ability to get the job done.
Covid-19 however, changed everything about the way we work, and, in many ways, that change has brought progress. A recent study from Deloitte revealed that almost 75% of officials within the UK Government believe the pandemic accelerated digital transformation. Despite this however, 80% of respondents also claimed that efforts have not yet gone far enough.
The result? A growing need to upgrade government employees’ digital skills, and to do it fast. Civil servants increasingly expect their digital, work related experiences to mirror those which they have as a consumer, and require the right tools to thrive in a digital-focused, remote working landscape; increasingly, this can be done by utilising modern technologies to free up time that would be spent on administrative tasks, allowing individuals to focus on delivering a positive citizen experience.
The challenge facing the public sector
Government has a reputation for being slow to change. However, the pandemic has shown us that quick transformation is entirely possible in the public sector. The way we work was restructured almost overnight. Telemedicine and vaccination initiatives – both vital in curbing the spread of the pandemic – were introduced in record time.
This begs the question, why has this progress not filtered through to the rest of the public sector? The answer lies in the intricacy of the task.
Each government department works with different security classifications, so a one-size-fits-all approach is impossible. On top of this, a lack of system interoperability can hold progress back, creating delays in digital processes such as data sharing. This is a burden not just for the organisation itself, but for the taxpayer, too, who is left to shoulder the consequences of inefficient services.
So how do we fix it? In short, teams can’t work successfully and collaboratively without leveraging consolidated systems, and for this, we turn to technology.
How can technology help?
Tech has a vital role in simplifying work in the public sector, specifically when it comes to automation.
An example of this involves the use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Robots learn and copy user behaviour, resulting in everyday tasks like form-filling, file organisation and simple calculations becoming automated. By taking repetitious, formulaic tasks like these away from staff, we free them up to spend more time on the things we can't delegate to machinery, like innovation and creative thinking.
Introducing artificial intelligence (AI) can have similar positive outcomes. AI-driven analytics mean governmental organisations can easily identify problem areas and implement solutions quickly, improving overall workflows.
However, if employees are to make the most of this technology, it’s vital that we train them to do so. A study by Cloud Industry Forum showed 40% of public sector civil servants don’t feel equipped with the correct skills for digital transformation. Organisations can attempt to resolve this with internal training and development programmes, but there are other helpful resources available externally, too.
ServiceNow’s NextGen programme is one of these, helping to train and upskill those who may have limited or no technical knowledge and prepare them for the digital economy, as well as introduce them to a whole network of tech employers. This not only expands the talent pool, it also provides an answer to the ongoing skills shortage many organisations are facing. Given the pace of technological change, however, it’s important to recognise that transformation efforts can only be successful if applied in the long-term, as well as short, less new capability gaps emerge.
The time to transform is now
Digital transformation was once a ‘nice to have’ as part of a mid to long term strategy, but in the now and the present, it’s a necessity.
By making digital a core part of government, we all benefit. It’s because of this that progressive departments within the public sector are searching for ways to provide more efficient employee and citizen services, while keeping a focus on ensuring their employees are equipped with the knowledge to do so, digitally.
If this can be achieved in an agile manner, public sector organisations can truly progress, not just to meet the aims of the government’s 2012 Digital Strategy a decade ago, but to rise above and beyond them as we all enter new ways of working in 2022, and beyond.
To find out more on how ServiceNow can support your organisation in its digital transformation journey, or how you can improve the digital experiences of your employees, please call UK freephone: 0800 640 8049 or visit www.servicenow.co.uk/gov.