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Public sector IT leaders gamble on digital projects, says survey

More than a third of European public sector leaders have no clear digital strategy, and half say they don’t have the right IT skills to deliver digital projects, according to a survey

A survey of public sector IT leaders in Europe has found that digital projects often suffer from a lack of digital strategy and few common priorities.

The independent survey, which asked public sector IT decision makers from UK, Germany, Sweden and Spain, was commissioned by supplier Fujitsu, and found a concerning picture emerging.

More than half of the respondents said the success of a project is a total gamble, as they often suffer from competing priorities and no clear strategy.

Some 36% of those surveyed said their digital strategy is “unclear and confused”, while 20% said there is no common view on priorities.

In the UK, this has been evidenced by several high profile government IT projects, such as the rural payments digital service, which was heavily criticised by the National Audit Office (NAO) for a lack of clarity and changing priorities.

The Fujitsu survey also found 58% of public sector leaders found it “difficult to know the right decisions to make”, and 51% said they don’t have the right skills to deliver a successful digital programme.

Steven Cox, vice-president and head of public sector for Fujitsu UK and Ireland, said the digital skills gap is “an ongoing issue and the public sector unfortunately suffers more than most”.

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“Digital transformation requires communication and compromise. It also requires structured planning which incorporates the digital needs of every single stakeholder. What this study tells us is that this strategic approach is not always being taken in the public sector,” said Cox.

Another NAO report, published in December 2015, found the digital skills gap in government concerning.

It found that, while several initiatives have been introduced to deal with the skills gap, there is an ongoing perception gap, where digital and technology professionals have a wider perspective of what is needed, “recognising the importance of business change, while others in their organisations have a more limited focus on IT and technology”.

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