More than a third of public servants say their organisations are missing digital opportunities

Written by PublicTechnology on 18 April 2017 in News

Survey finds public sector isn’t making the most of digital, with costs, culture and legacy systems identified as major barriers to transformation

Organisations say they need to take more control of digital opportunities - Photo credit: Pexels

A survey has found that 38% of public servants believe their organisation is missing out on “key opportunities” to embrace digital.

A further 45% of respondents to the iGov survey said they believed there were barriers preventing their organisation from widening service availability, while just 13% said they felt all opportunities were “fully embraced”.

The survey, the results of which were published last week, received responses from 235 people at 180 organisations, including councils and central government departments.

It found that 61% of organisations did have a formal digital transformation strategy, but that most (51%) respondents felt they had only just started implementing it.

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The survey also asked what the barriers to digital transformation were, with respondents echoing previous research and pointing to cultural issues - picked out by 58% - and difficulties migrating data from legacy systems (56%).

Other problems were a lack of necessary in-house skills (55%) and the initial cost of transformation (53%).

The survey also shows that many respondents are cautious about the capability of the public sector as a whole can close the “digital gap” between how digital services are currently delivered and how they would be delivered in an ideal situation.

When asked this question, some 36% said they were confident, while 24% said they were not very confident and 33% said they were neutral.

Of those who said they were not at all confident (2%) or not very confident, the main barriers were once again a skills gap, picked by 73%, cultural resilience (65%) and a lack of budget (63%).

In addition, 60% of respondents said that the sector had other priorities to tackle, while 40% said there was a lack of guidance and best practice information.

However, the respondents were broadly more confident when it came to the government’s digital strategy for the public sector, with 38% saying they agreed or strongly agreed that it was achievable. This is compared with 17% who disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.

The survey also asked about specific technology, revealing widespread consideration of automated processes for citizen engagement processes - for instance in handling appeals or requests.

Some 34% said they had implemented automated technology, while 18% said they had a strategy in place and 11% said they had looked into automation and were “weighing up the benefits”.

According to the survey, 61% of respondents expected to use automated technology for customer services in the next 12 months, while 55% said it would be used for back-office administration and 33% said it would be used for data analysis.

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