Accelerated Digital Journeys Improve The Lives Of Citizens

Phil King

At the latest SAP Public Sector event, Delivering Digital Transformation into Public Services, held at the Deloitte Digital offices in London’s Clerkenwell, we looked at the ways in which organizations in the public sector are continuing to accelerate their digital journeys, all with a common aim in mind: improving the lives of citizens.

The ultimate aim for public sector organizations is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. The industry is unique in its reach and ability to have a positive impact on the lives of so many, and on the way we live, work, and play.

Something I really want to see is more of a shift in the way public sector organizations are framing their digital transformation initiatives. Rather than positive impact on people’s lives being a by-product of their transformational journeys with technology, I want it to be the reason for them.

A focus on “improving lives” needs to be a starting point for all public sector organizations – identifying vulnerable people, communities, and societal issues, and working together to build solutions and better lives. Whether it’s working with healthcare companies to eradicate illnesses and find better ways of caring for the elderly, or with transportation companies to find ways of cutting carbon emissions, it’s all about helping us live longer and having better lives while we do.

HMRC and British Council’s take on digital transformation success

Among the speakers at the event were HMRC’s Hardik Shah (deputy director, chief digital information officer), who discussed where the HMRC is at when comes to achieving its goal of being the most digitally advanced tax administration in the world. As custodians of vast amounts of citizen data, the HMRC is constantly striving to be a technologically progressive workplace, which means it’s asking itself questions all the time. These include: How can it make sure it keeps up with the changes in tech, not just every year or every few years, but every single day? How can it change mindsets in line with technology and build capability where it matters? What parts of the organization are ready for change – and what parts really need to be?

British Council’s Ian Williams (HR director), also spoke about how their aim is to be “as proud of how we work as we are of what we do.” They’ve rolled out a significant, global HR transformation project with a view to becoming more dynamic and effective – the thinking being that the more proactive, relevant and effective they can be in what they do, the greater the positive impact they can have on lives and communities around the world. And the motto adopted by the British Council to support its digital transformation journey? “Changing the wheels on the bus while the bus is still moving.”

Which brings us neatly to Brexit. One of the main themes to come out of the day’s panel discussion was on how Brexit is impacting digital transformation in the public sector. The view of the panel was that public sector organizations must be careful not to be too distracted by this thorny political issue and keep in mind that they still have services to deliver to citizens.

Naturally, Brexit has caused some uncertainty and slowed down decision-making in many organizations, but the world does not stand still – the wheels on the bus keep moving. If it’s to continue improving people’s lives and making the world a better place, the public sector cannot afford to be stopped in its tracks by Brexit.

As digital transformation plows on, public sector organizations need to focus on continuing to bridge the gap between those transformational journeys and the lives at the heart of it all – the people, the citizens, all of us. It goes without saying that technology – from AI to machine learning – will continue to help transform citizens’ lives, but it’s up to public sector organizations to really help improve people’s lives and build a better future for everyone.

For more on technology in the public sector, see How Governments Are Building The Digital Future.


Phil King

About Phil King

Drawing from his 30 years of experience in IT and public sector organizations, Phil King is the Sales Director for the Public Sector in the UK and Ireland at SAP. He is passionate about working with the public sector to drive innovation that improves people’s lives and makes the world a better place.