Civil Service Reform: Digital by default

By Billy D’Arcy Managing Director of Public Sector Telefónica UK.

In the same week as the Chief Executive of the government’s Major Project Office was named as the new CEO of the civil service, there was something else coming out of Whitehall that caught my eye: a progress report into civil service reform. The report, which sets out current reform priorities, led with the message that ‘the modern civil service needs to be digital all the way through’. A message I’ve seen resonating throughout the public sector forming part of a wider campaign to ensure public services become digital by default.

For me digital by default is about greater engagement with citizens and communities. It’s about reaching them through more convenient and effective channels. It’s also about maximising productivity through smarter ways of working. The civil service reform report touches on all of these, especially the opportunity to use technology to increase the productivity of public sector workers.

Regardless of an organisations’ size, sector or industry, the task of renewing IT equipment is a real challenge. Existing legacy contracts, deep rooted processes and the difficulty in agreeing a joined up approach across departments have all acted as a blocker to public sector organisations becoming more digital. The reform report highlighted a ‘RAG rating’ traffic light system the Cabinet Office uses to rate its progress on reform, and although it was clear to see progress had been made on the whole, it still rated two areas as red: the creation of a model for policy audits, and – perhaps more alarmingly – better IT equipment for civil servants.

It’s vitally important for public sector suppliers to recognise these industry needs and act accordingly. At O2 we are passionate about flexible working and lowering the cost of digital services. That is why two months ago we launched our best-ever public services and third sector tariff – the No.10 tariff – offering a 4G ready device and connection for a flat rate of £10 a month. What’s more we’ve incorporated secure device return and data wiping through O2 Recycle, giving our customers even more flexibility when upgrading their mobile estate.

Public sector organisations are already seeing the benefits of this connectivity. I recently had an interesting conversation with one of our social care customers. They were able to use their smartphone to securely access patient information when in the field, leaving the heavy paperwork behind. This meant that they could address their appointments without having to return to the clinic to submit patient details. In fact earlier this year in partnership with the Centre for Economic and Business Research, we commissioned some research on smarter working in Britain. The report demonstrated that smart technologies could unlock £30 billion worth of productivity for the UK economy.

I’m a firm believer that reforming IT in the public sector doesn’t have to be complicated. The first step along the road is ensuring employees are able to work flexibly on the go and that’s what we’ve focused on with the No.10 tariff. The Chief Executive of the civil service, John Manzoni has no easy task ahead of him, yet in a year’s time, if the former BP director is able to look back and say under his guidance the civil service pushed forward with the digital agenda, then I feel that he can regard it as real progress.

To see how 4G can make a real difference to your organisation click here, or to find out more about the No.10 tariff call our public sector team on 0800 955 5590.