Transforming Public Sector ICT Summit and exhibition 2016: Improving Service Delivery
Tuesday 13th September 2016 #transformPS
Adelphi House, The Crescent.
Having previously stated an interest in Public Sector ICT, and with its clear links into both what happens in learning institutions, schools, college and now potentially in Grammar Schools (Mrs May’s latest challenge), I took my original application for this summit as very important to maintain both in relevance and well as networking opportunities.
The potential of ICT (Technology) to have a significant impact on changing the public sector cannot be ignored. Having seen the impact that it can have in teaching and learning over a number of years, it is clear that success is not a given, and the nay-sayers will quickly point out the failings. Who do you listen to? To do so really doesn’t tell us anything new, but the adoption of ICT does not naturally flag a change for the better, even if its impact is often very noticeable. I’m thinking here about the often mentioned challenge of legacy systems, and worse still, legacy thinking all too prevalent across many areas of the public sector (and business). What is important is that the actions behind the classroom interface, in the organisation, preparation, administration can all have a profound impact on the successes and failures elsewhere in the systems - and particularly where it matters most - with the ‘customer’. Time and time again, massive budgets and failed initiatives build a lack of trust we need to counter… but who discusses the successes when failures are so news worthy?
From 2016 - but mind-boggling:
Taken at any level, the reasons for the changes must be in order to improve the opportunities to do things better (not just differently), and all too often the reasons are left to flounder because other priorities dominate the process of getting the ICT in, and getting it to work.
The resounding issue here is that it works for the customer, the learner, the community first.
The potential to transform the public sector comes from the increase in flexibility and in allowing the services to adapt or be adapted for the user. The 2011 launch of GDS, the Government Digital Service was a significant step in creating, in the words of Executive Director Stephen Faoresew-Cain, to create a ‘government of the Internet’. Whether digital technology should allow the government to reshape and change rapidly is the primary concern may be disputable, but there is no doubt the need to deliver, respond, poll, discuss, debate, listen is vitally necessary, and should involve all aspects of online service.
This has all been thoroughly trialled in education in the near term past. The great thing about this is the fact that such trials have been relatively painless for the general population because the driving force has been ‘better education’. For this reason, a look to education can offer many models for progress that can only be improved by technologies greater prevalence, accessibility and growing ease of use - but importantly this has also been joined by growing security concerns.
This event took all of these factors into account, and succinctly addressed the challenges being met in developing efficient and citizen focused public services. This was no better summarised by the keynote from Dr David Best, Director of Digital Services, Technology and Methodology from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). A relative newcomer to ONS but clear not to digital transformation, as one would hope) Dr Best gave a clear and progressive overview of the way ONS operated, its previous incarnation and very quickly, where it was failing to break down past and inefficient operation toward the introduction of new technology. I await his slides with anticipation because the steps he described are ultimately attributable at any digital transformation. Agile has been adopted, and in essence the organisation has already identified its silo architecture as a self-fulfilling prophecy of ineffective cross organisational change. I will now watch ONS (have you seen the new web site?) as an emergent example of good transformation.
It was interesting that as the day progressed we heard presentations on Cybersecurity from Dr Thaddeus Eze of the University of Chester, a consideration of information security all of which pointed to a fact of life for us all. That the weakest link in any security will always be a human being (almost without exception). We have to address the vulnerability of the ‘Human Factor’, something I have direct experience of in my own past.
The day was very full and without doubt a really important one for any person involved in ICT or Digital Technology oversight, but it also offered real insights for everyone from educators to Chief Executives because it was delivered in a thoroughly understandable way. Some 150 delegates attended the event, and with a well chosen selection of exhibitors, I was really impressed. At the same time I was disappointed because it is often the usual attendees who turn up. A large number of other public sector organisations would have benefited from the content, or from involvement.
Nice to see Knowledge Hub there…!
I thoroughly recommend future events.