Public sector finance officers say digital transformation is ‘top priority’

Written by Rebecca Hill on 7 December 2016 in News

Digital transformation will be the biggest priority for public sector chief finance officers over the next five years, according to a survey by consultancy EY.

Digital is number one priority for chief finance officers - Photo credit: Flickr, JD Hancock, CC BY 2.0

The research, published on Wednesday, found that 58% of the 19 UK public sector chief finance officers surveyed said that digital transformation would be a strategic priority.

“The pressures to deliver more with less in the public sector has thrust the role into the spotlight and they are responding to this challenge in different ways,” said EY’s head of UK government and public sector, Darra Singh.

This, he said, includes the idea that chief finance officers need to make better use of sophisticated data analytics, something that is sure to be welcomed by the proponents of data use by government.

For instance, Nesta is piloting a data-sharing scheme between London councils in an effort to make the case for a London Office of Data Analytics, which it hopes would be picked up by other regions.

Meanwhile, central government is being urged to change the way it uses data, as the Digital Economy Bill – which is making its way through parliament – is set to ease rules for data-sharing between government departments.

Related content

Government approves first blockchain technology supplier on G-Cloud
Digital transformation ‘struggling to meet ambition’, as automation threatens public sector jobs
More than half of public bodies considering automating repetitive processes, study says
Bringing government data to life

Singh also cited Blockchain as a technology that will change the way the public sector is responding to ever-increasing budget pressures – something that has also been mooted by government departments, with the latest list of suppliers on the government’s cloud procurement platform including for the first time a platform that uses the technology.

The EY survey found that the second highest-ranked priority for chief finance officer was efforts to cut costs through automation and outsourcing, which was chosen by 26% of officers.

This chimes with priorities from other surveys and research, most recently in Deloitte’s The State of the State report, which estimated that 850,000 public sector jobs could be lost to automation by 2030.

However, both central and local government bodies that are considering upping their use of automation say the aim reduce the amount of repetitive and menial tasks, and argue that it will free up staff time to focus on more skilled jobs.

EY’s report also indicated a changing role for the chief finance officer in public sector organisations.

Because many savings plans require changes to business processes and organisational structures, chief finance officers are “increasingly being called on to support chief executives and other leaders in planning, testing and monitoring reforms”, it said.

Some 68% of survey respondents said that they were spending more time on providing analysis and insight to support senior leaders and decision makers than they were five years ago, while 63% said they were spending more time supporting development and strategic goals.

“We’ve gone beyond the isolated back office view of the finance profession,” said Singh. “Today’s CFOs are in a unique position to bring together a strategic view of the finances, performance and meeting future needs of their organisations. It is an exciting and challenging time to be a CFO the public sector.”

Share this page



Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

NHS signs £4.5m deal to ‘transform’ demographic data use and better match patients to records
20 May 2022

Work aims to make it easier for NHS number to be found, which contract says will help reduce issues such as false death notices

Majority of firms collect personal data, government report finds
19 May 2022

Potential of data economy – and importance of protecting information – highlighted by study

Statistics watchdog warns PM again over inaccurate claim on employment increase
18 May 2022

In his ninth such proclamation in the last six months, Boris Johnson cited a rise of 500,000 since 2020 – rather than a decline of 588,000

Supplier blacklists and non-compliance investigators: Government’s new procurement regime
13 May 2022

Bill introduced during Queen’s Speech proposes a range of reforms