Digital by Default: Is the Public Sector There Yet?



The UK Public Sector faces an uphill battle with digital transformation. Disparate legacy systems, complicated vendor lock-in and the sheer number of departments means investing in meaningful change can be challenging.

Yet, a move towards digital platforms is crucial for a sustainable future. We found that citizens are increasingly basing their expectations of successful service on the model demonstrated by the Private Sector. A sector that tends to have the time and money to invest in improving the user experience. Pressure on the Government to digitise also comes from budgetary demands, as outdated hardware and software becomes increasingly more expensive to maintain.

In order to achieve a digital-friendly government, a clearer strategy is required. It must be flexible enough to adapt to market changes, and cater to the varying needs of all citizens. Technology moves at a rapid pace, and with it, so does the public’s view of convenience.

Public opinion – the results so far

According to our recent report, ‘Government 2.0: A Riverbed Survey on the Public Sector Digital Experience’, people are ready and eager to embrace digital services. The majority of the public are in favour of a single online Government portal, and would be happy for their data to be shared in order to improve service efficiency.

Yet current experiences seem to fall short of reaching a digital utopia. Almost half of respondents say their expectations of online services are not currently met. In fact, they see the Public Sector as lagging behind the Private Sector in terms of implementing a greater number of digital ventures. The most prominent areas are mobile optimisation followed by the lack of digital channels.

When asked which organisations are leading the digital experience, respondents cite those in the Banking Sector. They believe that banks are best at managing the needs of service, performance and trust.

What the Government can do

According to a study by McKinsey and Oxford University, Public Sector IT projects which require business change are six times more likely to experience cost overruns, and 20% more like to run over schedule, than private-sector projects.

This means that, in order to achieve success, Public Sector organisations need to adopt similar approaches to their Private Sector counterparts. They must invest in digital transformation projects that put the user experience at the heart of all actions, and aim to replace the myriad of discrete services for an integrated solution. All the while, they must prioritise project continuity despite political change.

Creating a centralised service platform will put government bodies on par with the private sector experiences. In much the same way that banking customers can transfer funds on their phones and receive statements online, citizens will be able to pay for their council tax, renew their passport and update their tax from one, central hub.

Yet a digital government should not be the end goal. Instead, we feel that Public Sector digital transformation should be seen as a way to ensure a sustainable and cost-effective future, where publicly supported services can reach everyone that needs them. After all, it’s clearly what citizens would like to have.

Download the full report to learn more about living up to public expectations.


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