As the public sector digital agenda matures, research amongst senior central and local government IT executives has found widespread process inefficiency is acknowledged and there is a long way to go before digital transformation challenges are overcome.
A staggering 96% of those surveyed by application platform, KnowledgeKube, identified that more than a quarter of their processes were inefficient, yet a large majority felt there were still significant challenges around using digital approaches to drive down process costs and deliver more effective public services.
Whilst it is widely recognised that building digital processes around customers and data is a sound methodology to deliver more self-service, cost-neutral and therefore protected services, the research found barriers include high perceived cost and risk of digital innovation, a lack of internal digital capability and security concerns around outsourced solutions.
Respondents cited lack of resource (77%), high cost (74%), long timeframes (85%) and unacceptable risk (89%) were associated with holding back innovation as many digital approaches commonly require bespoke software development.
Former Director of eDelivery Unit at the Cabinet Office and senior ICT manager at DWP, Chris Haynes of Houghfold Associates, said: “We need more innovation! The downsides of failure in the public sector often seem to outweigh the rewards of potential success. Civil servants with ideas are seen as mavericks and rarely have the freedom to try them out due to perceived cost and risk.
“But, new software approaches enable users to rapidly prototype applications and experiment without writing code, so reducing fear of costly failure and potentially unlocking innovation.”
The research also found many respondents believe digital isn’t the first step in resolving inefficiency and innovation. The majority did not agree automation alone would realise collaboration (77%), save time (55%) or money (66%).
Peter Robbins, Managing Director Mercato Solutions – creators of KnowledgeKube, said: “Driving efficient and productive working isn’t simply about automation, this is a waste of investment if the processes themselves are poor. Equally, the IT industry’s skills shortage is challenging government needs to build in-house digital capability.
“So, transformation needs to focus on the ability to re-engineer and optimise existing and new processes with greater speed and effectiveness as well as sharing applications for common problems. CIOs and innovation leaders are now looking to disruptive platform-based technologies that challenge the norm of rapid application development and deployment.”