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Civica: Public sector must step out of an era of data blindness

Government must make better use of data if it is to deliver much-needed cost savings, claims new Civica report

The public sector must step out of an era of data blindness if the government is to deliver on its own savings targets, claims a new report from outsourcing and software provider Civica.

“To date, public services have been data rich but information poor,” said Steve Shakespeare, managing director of Civica Services. “With £30 billion in savings yet to be found, data insight is pivotal to enabling public service organisations to act smarter, identify opportunities for greater efficiency and deliver services at the point of need.”

The 14-page report, entitled ‘Enabling a new world of public service delivery’, said that with countless services relying on multiple systems, it was essential that the public sector adopt a ‘whole area approach’ to IT.

The technology leaders that authored the report said that the barriers to achieving a smarter, more unified approach to IT were political rather than technological.

“Organisations have traditionally guarded their boundaries and ring-fenced their systems and resources to deliver their required outcomes,” the report said. “The Technology Leaders agreed the challenge of achieving integration is rarely to do with technology, rather the cultural and political factors at play.”

Disparate ecosystems have stifled the government’s ability to drive efficiencies from data, claims John Hood, chief technology officer at Civica. “From a data insight and analytics perspective the last ten years have seen public sector organisations progress only 20% of the way through the business transformation journey, with the remaining 80% to be delivered over the next ten years. For innovation to happen we need to step out of this era of data blindness,” Hood commented.

Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to ‘spend less and deliver more’ with a thorough shake-up of public services.

“[Government is] not unlike business,” Cameron said. “Businesses are constantly adapting and changing, using new technology or new methods of delivery, to improve both their products and reduce their costs. I’m not suggesting we should run government exactly like a business. I just mean that if we use their insights, we can help develop a smarter state.”

Shakespeare also called on the government to adopt a more customer-centric approach to IT projects.

“We can’t underestimate the importance of getting under the skin of consumers,” he said. “In this digital era, consumers of all ages have become accustomed to a certain style and level of instant service, making them impatient and demanding for organisations on the back foot.”

“Technology has a critical role to play in reimagining public service delivery and enduring the cross-fertilisation of new ideas between public and private sector organisations,” Shakespeare concluded.



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