The public sector is no stranger to digital transformation. It may be lagging behind the private sector, but countless strategies have been set out and steps taken to digitise local authorities, healthcare providers and educational institutions across the UK.

The path towards digital transformation in the public sector has not been smooth. Challenges such as spending cuts, lack of funding, customer expectations, legacy technology, and the sheer scale and complexity of many public sector organisations stand in the way of effective digital transformation.

However, the appetite for change is strong – as is a willingness to adapt workflows and tools.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation looks different for every organisation, so finding an all-encompassing definition is not easy. In broad terms, digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, leading to fundamental changes in how that business operates and delivers value to customers.

It is also a cultural change. Companies need to continually question the status quo, be ready to experiment and be prepared for failure.

There are a number of common themes that run through existing digital transformation frameworks. Elements such as customer experience, operational agility, culture and leadership, and workforce enablement are often cited as driving forces.

Measuring success

Research shows that most public sector professionals understand the disruptive nature of digital technologies on the sector, but do they know how to measure its success?

Traditionally, businesses have measured success based on key performance indicators such as revenue, costs and customer satisfaction. However, when it comes to digital transformation, public sector leaders need to look beyond these KPIs towards a new set of metrics.

The cultural shifts at the heart of digital transformation need simple ROI and performance metrics. For example, bringing the whole team into the process early to help build the metrics is a great place to start. From there, asking for feedback from those carrying out the tasks will help build a healthy workplace culture.

Turning challenges into opportunities

The administrative burden of manual processes has taken its toll on the public sector – the NHS in particular. But work is being done to ease that pressure. Earlier this year, for example, the ESPO 390 framework was launched to address the need for digital transformation within the NHS. Providing quick, simple and competitive access to a range of document scanning solutions, the framework is a significant step forward in the government’s digital objectives.

Digital transformation is not going to happen overnight. However, as hard as they may be to deploy, advancements in technology offer huge opportunities to public sector organisations. From cloud-based remote working solutions to security management systems that reduce the risk of infrastructure downtime, technology is there to help public sector organisations work in more cost-effective, efficient ways.

One of the biggest misconceptions leaders have about digital transformation is that their competitors are light years ahead of them. This is partly because we hear much about companies getting it right. If we heard more about how hard it is for any organisation to execute a digital transformation programme and how long it can take, perhaps that perception would be different.

Talent international is one of the UK’s fastest growing talent management and recruitment providers in the public sector. If you want to find talented individuals who can help you develop and deliver the complexities of your digital transformation project, get in touch with the team today.


Find out more about Talent’s public sector and not-for-profit team.