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Smart thinking for modernised IT in the public sector

Far from lagging behind the private sector, many public sector organisations are embracing modern IT practices such as DevOps and agile methodologies

The explosion of digital technologies has resulted in an insatiable appetite for digital content and accessibility. This means that, more than ever, organisations need to modernise their IT systems and processes to meet rising expectations for improved user experiences. There can be no complacency, even if the current climate of global slowdown as a result of the global health crisis from the Covid-19 coronavirus did not dictate it. 

The rise in expectations for user experiences that take advantage of the latest digital technologies, pervasive connectivity and mobile devices, with the ability to personalise for more effective value-based engagement, cannot be dismissed by any organisation regardless of market sector or size. 

What is not true, though, is the perspective of a public sector that is failing to modernise its IT estate.

The pressure to modernise IT infrastructures to meet new operational dynamics and business change has long been an important criterion for long-term growth and sustainability. Some organisations have been deemed existentially threatening, especially those that have harnessed the advantage of greenfield digital implementations. This has enabled them to better capture a customer or citizen’s attention, breaking the relationship hold that an incumbent might possess.

However, established organisations have learnt to become smart digital operators, which has enabled them to re-imagine processes to deliver new capabilities quickly and engage more effectively with their employees, customers and supply chain ecosystem. 

Granted that the public sector still houses long-established organisations and business functions with a tendency towards caution when it comes to adopting IT advances and new operational practices. And it is clear why many have been labelled as laggards when it comes to IT progression and capability. Across the globe, public sector organisations tend to be slow when it comes to the latest technology tools and IT delivery practices. Too many have shown a level of complacency with legacy systems that function well but can’t meet sudden business change requirements. 

However, public sector organisations have been taking significant steps towards modernising their infrastructure. In the UK public healthcare sector, for example, the expanding remit of NHS Digital to unify and centralise digital technology and application excellence and adoption suggests recognition for sustained IT investment and renewal. 

As a result, public sector bodies such as the NHS, HM Revenue & Customs and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency have taken on board important transformation practices such as DevOps and agile methodologies to speed up delivery of software solutions. They have incorporated the use of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to address security concerns, leveraged social media platforms, adopted greater levels of automation, updated infrastructure, and implemented cloud services and mobile apps to better engage with citizens. 

No industry sector is without the need for improvement, and across the public sector there is plenty of scope for it. However, there is the sense of a positive embrace of modernising IT practices and working closely with many of the hyperscale cloud and IT service providers that points to an industry sector doing its best to shake off the moniker of a market laggard. 

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