Election 2015: Three challenges for a digital future

Ivan Harris says whoever forms the next government will face a big task in driving greater adoption of cloud services within the public sector.

This week saw the launch of each of the main political party’s manifestos.

Five years ago, calls for extending the digital-by-default approach to services, delivering government as a platform and driving greater local government adoption of technology might have been seen as slightly exotic if not lofty aims for any party to have in their pre-election document.

Today however it is clear that putting these ideas about technology in government into action quickly is a vital ingredient to achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness of public services.

The fast adoption of cloud computing is the foundation which will underpin all of these changes.

Whilst there is no doubt that central and local government have made substantial progress in cloud adoption – and also towards the delivery of digital public services – in the last few years, it is also clear that we have a long way to go before we realise the deep transformational opportunities that cloud can offer the public sector.

Whoever comes to power in May will be faced by three key obstacles which are getting in the way of cloud-enabled digital transformation:

Cloud awareness

The first of these, uncovered by our own research, is the ongoing lack of awareness around cloud computing and the future role it needs to play in the public sector.

There are pockets of enlightenment who ‘get’ and have acted on the ideas from Cabinet Office in central and local government.  

Nonetheless, the G-Cloud team has a big job to do after May this year in educating and engaging buyers more broadly across the public sector. This will be critical to accelerating the rate of future change.

Confidence in cloud procurement

A second challenge is the extent to which buyers have the confidence to procure cloud-enabled services through new suppliers on the Digital Marketplace.  

The continuing growth in sales is evidence that confidence is growing and the profile of the deals through this platform is vital in attracting more public sector buyers to this marketplace. Post-election, we need more big deals of substance to flow through the Digital Marketplace.

Role of suppliers

A third area of focus is the role of suppliers like us who have our own discreet contribution to make in the effort to drive up cloud adoption.

This isn’t just about getting existing services on the G-Cloud framework but by investing time in getting to know our buyers, their business challenges and the kind of solutions they need in order to use cloud to make a difference to their organisation.

We need a far greater focus away from selling cloud services as a commodity and instead focus on building new propositions that are missing from the market and holding up cloud adoption.

If there is key message for whoever is in power post-May it is that delivering on digital transformation will require energy and commitment to change, which goes even further than what we saw in the last five years.

Success will depend on the extent to which the G-Cloud team is given a mandate to be a dogged champion for change in partnership with the public sector in the broadest sense and with the suppliers it needs to deliver on the digital future.

Ivan Harris is chief strategy officer of managed cloud services at Eduserv

Colin Marrs

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