Culture, not technology, is key to digital transformation in the public sector

By Terry Storrar, Director of Managed Services at MCSA

Don’t let the ‘digital’ in digital transformation fool you. When it comes to real digital change in the public sector (and every organisation for that matter) technology has very little to do with it. to the key ingredient to inspire meaningful and progressive change, is a shift in culture.

Resistance and fear of change from individuals, departments and whole organisations must be addressed, and the channel has a powerful role to play in doing just that.

Ultimately, digital transformation is about centralising data and allowing access to that data in a way that facilitates new practices around agility, innovation and efficiency which suits each unique individual and their role. It allows organisations to understand that everyone is a contributor to both the organisation, and the most productive ways of working. Beyond this, it’s also realising that the tools that people need to do their jobs today will not be the same as they need tomorrow. The only constant after all, is change.

But moving from a traditionally top down structure with hierarchical governance to one that embraces multiple ways of working can be a challenge. Allowing people to decide what tools they need to do their job better rather than telling them how to work is a major cultural shift. For IT departments digital transformation present new challenges – how can they allow this to happen quickly and, importantly, securely?

Digital transformation can be a particular challenge for the public sector with diverse departments and strict policies and processes. Making a mistake with data can have serious repercussions, so the stakes are even higher. As such, relinquishing top down governance, can be an even bigger hurdle.

We have all the technology ingredients we need for digital. The channel’s role comes in helping train and educate organisations about how they can best navigate digital transformation. We need to help organisations move to structures that are more consultative and collaborative.

The public sector has not traditionally been particularly collaborative but through working in more of a consultative manner with all staff, organisations will be privy to incredibly valuable information about how they work and what tools they need to do that work better. Trusting users to do their job and allowing them the ability to access and use the data they need is not only more effective, it will also lead to more engaged and valued staff.

Education is then key, and the approach should be two-fold. Firstly, IT departments must be properly trained in how to keep such open systems secure and working effectively. We can help make IT departments agents for change within their organisations by helping them become confident and knowledgeable about how they can empower other staff. Secondly, education must take place with the wider staff about how they can make best use of the tools available. Digital transformation needs a considered approach of engagement from all stakeholders to break free from limitations both internal and external.

Ultimately technology is only an enabler and organisations must properly engage with individuals and move from a top down strategy, to one that empowers, listens to and educates everyone. They can then move towards real digital transformation knowing that they are still operating safely and securely, but also more effectively.

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