Fair Funding – are you digitally fit?

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The world in which we live is changing. The demographics of our population are shifting, public services are being transformed by new thinking and new technology, even the way we work and travel is not the same as it once was.” Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP

If I were to take only one thing from this statement it would be the observation that the world is changing. It may seem like a pretty obvious thing to say – indeed paradoxically, change is a constant. But it is not only changing, it is accelerating and Public Sector needs an effective set of responses.

It is probably worth just reflecting on the technology choices of the last 10 or 15 years at this point. Systems were procured largely based on what was already known and a somewhat predictable future. Systems were highly aligned to a line-of-business and the need for change was not so great.  A lot has changed since then, and public sector is now a world where available funds and service demands have since diverged significantly. Most authorities have at least 30% less funds than they did in 2010. The Fair Funding Review will be a significant change introduced with the assumption that it will contribute to the closing of that gap.

There is a school of thought that suggests the Fair Funding Review will eventually lead to entirely self-sustaining authorities with all business rates raised, retained, and invested locally. It could be said that this is beginning to sound a lot like a “business” and will introduce a whole host of new challenges. Demographic analysis and service design and re-design will be the equivalent of product R&D. Cash-flow pressures will change. Responsibilities to the local economy, regeneration, and other social factors will all have the potential to be dramatically affected.

It is my view that current “heritage” systems will not have the required flexibility to accommodate and underpin these changes. Financially, contractually, technically and systemically they are just not designed and built to do that.  In a world where “pop-ups” and “gigs” are becoming the norm the future will demand an unprecedented level of agility.

To re-iterate the point made by The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, “technology is changing”. It is changing with such speed and breadth that the term “4th industrial revolution” is now mainstream. Once complex, highly involved services are now becoming automated and easily consumed – in other words, they are becoming commodity. And the list of new services becoming available is growing on a daily basis. Public Cloud is the key to making all of this possible.

There now exists a significant opportunity for the true transformation of public sector services. It is also now possible for those services to evolve alongside the new opportunities, demands, and pressures that affect public sector with more speed and variety than ever before. Jack Welch said, “if the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” To be truly relevant, successful and cost-effective transformation must become an ongoing initiative.

Public Cloud offers a unique blend of flexibility, speed-to-market, functional relevance, capacity, and commercial viability which has not been possible until now. Deploying new services more quickly, with less risk and with more insight can help public sector services be more effective and less costly than ever before. Change is very much apparent and public cloud is the technology enabler that will allow public sector to more prepared and fit to move with it than ever before.