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In the near future, the public sector is set to face several factors that will radically reshape the way it delivers services, such as increasing citizen demands, an aging population, and significant cost and sustainability pressures. However, the most decisive factor is likely to be the introduction of digital platforms.

Public sector organisations are transforming their services through digital innovation, with the biggest challenges being to ensure the transformation is inclusive, transparent and results in a real improvement to services. Executive TV has explored the digitalisation of the public sector, speaking with Cantium, as well as other industry experts and IT service specialists for their insight for a recent programme named, Digital Platforms.

ServiceNow provides its cloud platform to the UK public sector, pledging to improve efficiency, and engagement whilst driving the public sector digital revolution. Alex Osbourne, Director at ServiceNow, says the biggest challenge for the public sector is where to put their focus with so many challenges in play such as Brexit, coming out of austerity, and increasing citizen demands and expectation of service. With the public benefitting from platforms such as Uber and Amazon in the home, they are expecting the same digital experience across the board for any service they consume, for example, applying for a passport or road tax. ServiceNow provides a single platform to drive efficiency and productivity gains, allowing businesses to remove the cost of delivering services and begin driving innovation.

Cantium’s CEO, Mark Scott, recognises the challenge of maintaining front line services and dealing with ever-increasing citizen demands to provide digital services. With ServiceNow providing the ability to optimize the back office and its delivery, this allows remaining funds to be invested into front line services. These services can then be developed to enable, through digital self-serve, chat and knowledge articles; something which Scott says he has witnessed a real acceleration towards in the past 10 years. Scott sees that utilising a platform that enables an understanding of the end user provides the ability to respond to their needs and pro-actively develop services to meet their ever-changing demands.

The UK government has been very forward-thinking  in implementing a cloud first strategy far earlier than other nations, with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) aiming to become the first digital tax office in the world. Since the Cloud First Policy was first introduced, there have been significant savings for the taxpayer as public sector organisations have created more agile IT systems that support in delivering change, which are faster and more cost efficient.

The IT marketplace for the public sector is certain to continue evolving. Mike Glock, Director at Unifii, says he expects to see the marketplace becoming more commoditised with more short-term cloud service contracts being secured. He also expects to see continued adoption of cloud-based services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, along with potential new delivery solutions that haven’t been discovered yet to keep up with the pace and changes of the industry. Glock sees that working with suppliers and customers like Cantium means that business delivery needs to be more componentised and commoditised in order to effectively respond to those changes.

Dona Hill, Assistant Director of Workforce CWM TAF, says that although digitalisation is a tool and not a solution to all challenges, it can work very effectively in the right forum. A good example is in the primary care sector where GPs in a GP cluster area can use Skype, email, and WhatsApp to view online referrals. Digitalisation is going to be key for the NHS, where making better use of technology can enhance the way healthcare support systems are delivered, helping to support patients from home and avoiding long waits to see a GP.

What else can we expect to see in the future? Darius Pocha, Co-founder of Create | Change, predicts the next big advances in public services’ use of technology. The first being voice interfaces, such as with Apple’s, Siri or Amazon’s, Alexa; Pocha explains that these have the potential to bypass a lot of problems that those who are digitally literate have with digital by default services and if they are free, cheap, accessible, and secure, they have a lot of potential benefits. The second is the simulation of complex policy problems; Pocha describes how in complex interconnected problem spaces there is often too much data for humans to comprehend and believes there is certainly a place for using machine intelligence to crunch data, producing insights and options that can then be validated by real-world research.

You can learn more by watching the full broadcast here.

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