UK Government “Doesn’t Get” Digital

Apr 17, 2014

The government is threatening its own digital strategy because it “doesn’t get” digital, according to a lecturer at Cambridge Business School.

Mark Thompson, who also formerly advised Chancellor George Osbourne on IT reform, has claimed that old problems are re-emerging in the public sector.

He says a shift towards agile methods of working rather than digital strategies is on the verge of undermining recent IT changes.

The comments were made at the EMC and Policy Roundtable event near London’s Silicon Roundabout on the part technology can play in reinventing government.

Thompson claimed the government is in danger of losing its way when it comes to all things digital, adding that new IT agendas were founded on the basis of the realisation that Whitehall had for years wasted money on luxury bespoke systems it didn’t need.

For example, it was not agile delivery that underpinned technological changes within government, but the adoption of open standards in digitising the public sector that drove development.

“Agile has become synonymous with digital and why? Because agile involves building your stuff all over again rather than consuming and leaves all those pesky underlying hierarchies,” Thompson claimed.

“Agile is funky and yet unthreatening, the perfect storm,” he added.

To support his points, Thompson referenced the troubled Universal Credit programme and those who fear job losses as a result of digital innovation.

Government “Resists Digital Change”

He also explained why he believes digital the government is resistant to digital changes.

“Digital is fundamentally not about new interfaces in the system, it’s actually about fundamental business model change,” said Thompson.

“Digital is therefore disingenuous and misleading unless there’s an open and honest debate about how reinventing government is going to reshape the public sector and alter the nature of public sector jobs,” he continued.




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