Top 5 Government IT Trends that have shaped the UK public sector in 2018


By Julia Main

The UK public sector has experienced rapid disruption in its internal technological systems and processes particularly this year since the announcement of the Government Industrial Strategy at the end of 2017 with the aim of boosting productivity by investing in skills, industries and infrastructure and targeting 4 ‘grand challenges’. Key digital driving movements, such as migrating existing and new applications to cloud, challenging the cultural barriers and automisation processes with DevOps and a huge investment in AI to make the UK frontrunners on the world stage for technology. We take a look at the 5 biggest trends that have penetrated and disrupted traditional public sector IT structures and policies.

Trend 1 – Going Cloud First in the Department of Education

The embrace of Cloud in the Public Sector has been overwhelming since government announced its “Cloud First Policy” for public sector IT in 2013. Research conducted on behalf of Outsourcery and CIF aimed to determine the level of Cloud adoption among public sector participants. “It found that 78 per cent of public sector organisations have some form of Cloud-based services in use today, having risen from only 38 per cent in 2010. In addition, there is increased depth of Cloud use within this sector, with 83 per cent using two or more hosting solutions within their organisations, rising from 53 per cent last year.” Further research can be found here. Departments such as the Department of Education and the Department of Work and Pensions have championed cloud and have leaded the way for cloud first implementation across government. For example DWP today is running Universal Credit on AWS systems and are also aiming for a “zero service hours lost” with its cloud transition. When Cloud is utilised correctly it has limitless benefits to offer to its users, such benefits include flexibility, users can scale their needs and access cloud services on demand, vital new technology for those working in the field such as Police for one example. This also includes increased efficiency, allowing application development to be deployed quicker and safer than ever before. At our upcoming Public Sector ICT conference in November 2018, our morning session will showcase how the Department of Education is going cloud first and moving away from traditional data centres and rolling out nearly 6,000 surface devices to improve collaboration internally in order to provide a first rate service for end users such as universities, schools and colleges.

Trend 2- Utilising Big Data for Better Insights and Regulatory Compliance

With GDPR now governing the way organisations compile and analyse data, we look at how Public Sector can utilise advanced analytics to not only aid in regulatory compliance, but how by using Big Data can Public Services harness more thorough insight from there end users?   There are several huge benefits to government adopting big data, for example hosting all data in a centralised location can improve transparency and increased efficiency in decision making whilst harnessing massive savings for public service expenditure. All the while for the citizens comes empowerment and increased trust in government services. Analysing social and public data in real-time will allow the public sector to react to changing events on a quicker scale and with better actionable insight than ever before. But this isn’t the only reason big data is trending big data integrates data from the cloud, social media, and stored structure data in order to feed business use cases across multiple applications. This is a key driver for all areas of our Public Services from Crime to Healthcare, it can analyse trends and patterns which can effectively plan future services, for example collating crime incident data to better geographically allocate police resources, and in addition aid in creating an effective deterrent plan for crime reduction.

Trend 3- Automation and Breaking Down Siloes with DevOps

Compared to their private sector counterparts, public sector bodies have been slower in their adoption of DevOps.  The Department of Work and Pensions is one department that has championed a DevOps strategy alongside others as they have progressively adopted a more agile methodology, automation and continuous integration all alongside breaking down barriers and siloes between departments to create increased collaboration. “By adopting a DevOps approach, we’re moving away from building to specification, to digital being at the core of how we solve challenges iteratively for users of our services, at a higher pace,” Mayank Prakash. The progress so far includes re-designing DWP Digital to create multi-disciplinary teams which allow individuals to share ideas across grades and hierarchies. DevOps has also been pushed to the forefront in other departments such as Mastek recently won the contract to provide strategic DevOps capabilities for the Home Office Biometrics Programme. DevOps still has its remaining challenges to full scale implementation in areas such as upgrading legacy systems which are still prevalent throughout many departments, and also a lack of funding for DevOps resources. However with the growing momentum and investment in full scale government digital transformation there is little doubt that DevOps will be prominent throughout public sector IT as a front runner for collaborative culture, creating clear objectives for IT structure and automation.

Trend 4- Cyber Security will continue to top the agenda

Threats to cyber security are increasingly organised and transnational with no respect for geographical borders, therefore the UK and EU will need to continue to co-operate on cyber security to counter cyber threats. Brexit has caused serious concerns over digital and programming skill shortages and the UK’s exit from Europol. “It is proposed that there will be close collaboration between the UK and the Network and Information Security (NIS) Cooperation Group, Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) Network (created under the NIS directive) and the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA). While the UK’s desire to remain involved in the EU cyber security apparatus is welcome, no details of the legal mechanisms by which this will be achieved are provided at this stage.” (Source: Herbert Smith Freehills). The increased malicious scale of attacks are increasing exponentially as attacks become more sophisticated and leave heightened damage to the effected breach areas. To meet this challenge, the government has implemented the National Cyber Security Strategy 2016- 2021 supported by £1.9bn of transformational investment which looks to secure and defend people, businesses and assets from cyber security threats in this new digital era.

Trend 5 – Introducing AI in Government                            

If effectively implemented there is no doubt that AI can boost the UK into becoming pioneering leaders for technology around the world, however allocating resources and the right budgets requires creating an economy that inspires new technology. The government’s industrial strategy outlines a commitment to strengthening the foundations of productivity and building long-term strategic partnerships with businesses through “sector deals”. Finally it aims to tackle 4 grand challenges, Artificial Intelligence, Clean Growth, Ageing Society and the Future of Mobility. According to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: “AI is fundamental to our industrial strategy, so alongside the nearly £1 billion of support for the sector, we’re issuing an AI Grand Challenge to put the UK at the forefront of the revolution.” The most prominent example of this is the launch and roll out of the AI sector deal with more than 50 leading technology companies investing with government over £1bn, which will consequently see the development of regional tech hubs and a world’s first centre for data ethics along with abundant other streams of innovation in AI.

Would you like to learn more about these upcoming trends from senior level government experts?

Join us on 14 November 2018 when we bring together hundreds of senior government IT professionals for our dedicated annual forum showcasing the latest technology developments across the public sector. Register your place at: www.whitehallmedia.co.uk/pseict.