What can departments and government sectors learn from each other?
Government departments, including the private and public sectors, can adapt together to digitization by embracing data sharing and fostering innovation
The past few years have catalyzed the fastest acceleration of digitalization in government services, spanning a wide range of different organizations across all sectors. Along with this acceleration came a major shift in customer expectations – the days of people accepting clunky web pages or long wait times are over.
People are accustomed to the smooth user experiences they’ve long found on top e-commerce websites and come to expect that speed and efficiency from all services, including government services.
Slower scanning and secure data sharing
Historically, public services have had a reputation for being slow to digitize – often slower than their private sector counterparts. Why?
The public sector is hugely complicated, with hundreds of different councils, blue light organizations, government departments and more holding large amounts of highly sensitive user data – identity documentation like name, address and date of birth to medical records, disabilities, and benefit claims.
Accessing this data stored on a mix of old and modern computer systems is, in itself, a huge challenge. Especially when the data that could support a smooth user experience is spread across different public sector organizations. Yes, private companies also hold sensitive personal customer information, but it’s often much less sensitive and the starting point is easier because at least all the data is within one organization.
Users won’t give much thought to these complexities, however. Most view government as a single entity and expect a consistent, integrated experience across all services they access. Just like when shopping with Amazon, you don’t expect any inconsistencies when buying from different Amazon sellers.
The Private Sector Sandbox
The private sector offers innovation approaches that can be referenced for public sector projects. With larger research and development budgets, often less sensitive data, and less political pressure, the private sector has greater freedom to innovate without risking wasting taxpayers’ money.
Government Digital Service (GDS) has inspired a wave of digital transformation across the Service standards which have become invaluable to the public sector in recent years. However, the government recognizes the value of encouraging innovation, with:
1) Organizations such as Innovate UK providing funding and support
2) Government departments seeking to design policies in a way that enables and encourages industry innovation
learn from each other
There is a strong case for the public and private sectors to learn from each other and deliver an experience that works better for citizens. One could argue that there is a clear distinction between private sector services such as online banking and government services such as HMRC self-assessment for income tax.
But if we take a closer look, there are links. Online banking services must comply with government regulations. And sometimes government departments drive industry innovation; The HMRC self-assessment is a good example, where users have the option of buying commercial software to build on the standard service.
It is therefore important for the industry to understand the future direction of legislation and policy. Likewise, it is important to understand the future direction of the industry.
It’s worth noting that sometimes the public sector follows the private sector and other times vice versa – and all because there are fewer differences than you might think about how large-scale programs work. in organizations and the use of the best training.
Take the example of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, a principle of software engineering in which development and operations activities are linked and automated to streamline the software delivery process and often improve the user experience. For large organizations, CI/CD has become an essential part of the workflow – both for the private sector and increasingly in government departments.
A bright future for digital government
The future looks bright for digital utilities. We’ve seen nearly a decade of improvements driven by the government’s service standard that have delivered simple and consistent services.
Likewise, the government recognizes that there is still work to be done in its recently published digital and data roadmap. The ambition is to pursue digital transformation to speed up and simplify access to public services and deliver substantial efficiency savings of over £1 billion by eliminating unnecessary costs of paper-based services and processes .
Clearly, there is room for the public and private sectors to learn from each other and for both parties to benefit. But perhaps the big winner here is the end user, who gets a better experience across all the services they interact with.
This article was written and provided by Ross Nichol, UK Director at Valtech.