Chapter 1

Building digital foundations in the Public Sector

Before we break down the where’s, what’s and why’s of a digital foundation, we first want to make an important revelation …

One that, at times, you may have realised yourself. And one that provides useful context on the importance of a digital foundation.

And it’s this:

Control is an illusion

We have choices and we make decisions. And, with these, we do our best to affect the final outcome. So, here’s the rub: you're never fully in control.

And when it comes to building your digital foundation, that’s ok. 

Actually, it’s more than ok. Because when it comes to making a palpable difference to people’s lives, embracing a lack of control is essential.

Here’s what we mean.

Take the pandemic ...

Before it hit, how many organisations do you think were set up to adapt and cope with the new demands placed upon them?

Few, we’d wager.

It was those with the basis of a digital foundation already in place that could react faster. And more meaningfully, to the needs thrust on them.

From the deployment of collaboration tools to enable homeworking ...

... to the rapid development of applications so people could request services.

Examples of new ways of working - underpinned by a digital foundation - sprang up everywhere to support people during the crisis.

In a recent Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) conference, one chief executive stated:

“Covid accelerated the move to digital consumerism from months and years to weeks and even days.”

Those in the Public Sector have embraced new forms of digital working, engagement, collaboration, and delivery. They’ve had to.

This means much of the ‘fear factor’ around digital technology has disappeared. In fact, to an extent, people now expect to interact with their councils digitally.

That’s not to say there aren’t challenges around digital inclusion, legacy systems, outdated (or out of reach) digital infrastructure, and the lack of joined-up-ness between local government, healthcare, and the voluntary sector. There is.

Yet, the digital ambition in the Public Sector shapes how we live day to day. And that’s no bad thing.