Deep thinking at Think Digital Government 2017
Listening to September's Think Digital Government conference reminded me of the old adage... if you want to catch big fish, you have to sail into deep water.
As key figures in digital government shared their views on the ongoing transformation effort, it seemed that government digital services have reached the edge of the warm, sandy shallows, and are staring into the cold, dark unknown.
The effervescent Gary Barnett, Head of End User Advisory at GlobalData Technology, thinks that we've had it easy up until now - departments have been tackling the 'low-hanging fruit' of digital projects, such as building much needed new front ends for old back-office systems. But true digital transformation is about redesigning the whole process, using IT to make it efficient, easy and sustainable. If technology is really to deliver change, departments will have to go deeper, disentangle themselves from legacy systems and change the way people work.
Government's answer to this is to build capability. Holly Ellis, GDS Director of Capability, talked through the great strides GDS has made over the last couple of years in digital workforce planning. They have built a capability framework, comprising 37 roles and associated careers paths. This is good for product owners, individuals and suppliers like CDS, as it enables us to speak the same language - do you need a Service Designer or an Architect? Developer or DevOps? Demand for skills is huge, and GDS are training or re-training hundreds into digital roles every month.
For those who have the space, building a team around you capable of sailing the big ship into deep water is the way forward. However there is a risk to this strategy. Good technologists like challenge and variety; they move about. And contractors are, or are supposed to be, temporary. So who is going to hold the knowledge of new, complex digital systems that we will all be increasingly reliant upon?
This is something that we at CDS have been doing for years, supporting large, complex systems, and maintaining knowledge. As departments transform and build new services on more accessible cloud platforms, we will be able to extend our support services across a wider range of systems. Having a capable partner that is independent of staff changes, skills shortages and head-count policies seems like a good idea.
Blog author: James Davis, CDS Senior Business Development Manager
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