From augmented reality to robotic process automation, Councils are recognising the potential of emerging technologies to transform back office functions and change working practices.

Procurement is one of the functions that could see most benefit from the transition to digital. Digital supplier sourcing, real-time monitoring of the supply chain, virtual stockrooms and the ability to generate sophisticated analytics could deliver significant improvements in operational efficiency.

The Government budget for Digital Services (GDS) increased to £150 million in 2016/17 demonstrating the commitment to embrace the opportunity.

However, the transformation comes with challenges. A key obstacle is the difficulty in securing the expert resource needed to navigate the complex digital landscape. Alongside this, issues around cyber security, legacy systems, culture change and competing priorities also need to be overcome.

Work has already begun on tackling the resource issue. The Civil Service Workforce Plan aims to ensure the civil service is ‘world leading in terms of digital transformation’ – the objective is to have the right specialists in place and encourage digital working across all functions.

While competition is fierce a growing number of people are being attracted into digital roles by higher-than-average salaries and job opportunities underpinned by fast-paced growth. The digital sector is growing at twice the rate of the wider UK economy, contributing around £97bn a year, up 30% over five years*.

Despite the challenges, the key economic role of digital and the focus it has as an enabler of change in the Government’s Transformation Strategy will keep it high on the agenda in coming years.

 

*Tech Nation 2017