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Automated Intelligence were delighted to exhibit at last weeks Global Government Forum – Innovation event. The conference theme focused on innovation within government, how to combat its many challenges such as budget constraints, legacy technology, the digital skills gap and many more complex challenges driven by the ever increasing fast paced technological and political environment. Furthermore, the event brought together civil servants and senior leaders from global government departments to understand the necessities required for driving innovation including promoting strong leadership, collaboration, adopting emerging technologies and adapting to change in culture whilst building upon new skills.
In our latest blog, we outline some of the key takeaways from the event.
Upskilling and acknowledging the digital skills gap is required to enable innovation
Alex Chisholm, Permanent Secretary of the UK Cabinet Office and COO for the Civil Service emphasised how the COVID-19 pandemic had demonstrated the vital role of innovation in government and highlighted the importance of building innovation into the core of public services. He asked, ‘How can we close the gap between how innovative we ought to be and how innovative we actually are?’ He stressed that ‘not every attempt at innovation will succeed, we need the right skills to help our people develop, we all need to be adding to our knowledge.’ Chisholm continued to discuss how the UK government have committed to upskilling 90% of civil servants by 2025, which will “help our people to adapt their skills….we need to add to our know how for digital and data…recognise and reward our people for innovation.”
Chisholm referred to the newly formed development of DSIT (Department of Science, Innovation and Technology), stating it was an ‘urgent and commonly recognised collective need for a modern system of governance, referring to the 2025 roadmap for digital and data.’
However, despite calling out technology and upskilling, he emphasised that innovation is not just about technology but about finding new and better ways to deliver services and encouraged governments to embrace experimentation, learning from both successes and failures.
Overall Chisholm delivered a ‘message of confident expectations – the best is still to come.’
Creating a Culture of Innovation
During the ‘Culture of Innovation,’ fireside chat, panelists Sapana Agrawal, Director, Modernisation and Reform, Cabinet Office, Kok Ping Soon, CEO, Government Technology Agency, Singapore and Gina Gill, Chief Digital and Information Office, MoJ discussed various themes such as what makes an organisation innovative.
Sapana Agrawal commented, “An environment that has the right pillars in place to encourage experimentation and a ruthless focus on the customer – understanding, tracking and answering their needs.” Whilst Kok Ping Soon said, “There’s three broad ingredients: leadership, process and resources. Are leadership setting an agenda or do they have an open culture, are they willing to take risks and what’s their reaction to failure?” He discussed the discipline and design thinking practices required to enable enhanced processes whilst resources are important to consider, “making available time for the people who are doing innovation.”
Furthermore, Gina Gill agreed in relation to having “relentless focus on the customer, having a vision, knowing and being excited about where we are going, and being willing to take risk and be confident enough to fail.”
When asked what the biggest barriers to innovation are, panelists suggested the length of time to agree funding and political cycles, the fear factor of negative feedback and suggested innovation should be viewed as a long-term strategy, rather than a short-term initiative. Gina Gill stressed how government departments should consider how they are being incentivised and not using short term initiatives such as funding cycles to be used as an excuse to not be innovative, whilst comparing the private sector where there is more of an incentive for change.
Despite a show of hands in the audience revealing few who felt confident to take risk and not succeed, it’s evident “there is great innovation, but scaling is the challenge, and there is a need to break silos across agencies and ministries.”
Data-driven decision making is becoming increasingly
The data in innovation break-out session covered numerous interesting themes, having moved from discussions on the art of possible to actually doing. The session looked at putting data ‘at the heart of our decision making,’ learning from Covid 19 approaches, how government departments can achieve innovation by sharing data across departments to ensure government knows what data exists, where it is stored and how it can be accessed to make data a key part of decision making. Whilst digital technology has the potential to transform public service delivery, there are still challenges around data security and privacy.
Panelists discussed how governments “data has value, we need to realise the value, not hide it under a rock in a locked box.” However, the ongoing challenge across large organisations is to know what data they have and to “move from data sharing to data generous, thematic datasets are needed to force the hand to look beyond silos.”
Civil servants need access to the necessary tools, expertise and self-assurance to try out novel methods to transform service delivery. Innovation 2023 certainly provided a distinctive chance to collaborate with peers across Central Government departments from around the world and delve into significant innovations that are certain to enhance operations going forward. For further information on how Automated Intelligence can help your government department, contact us on email@example.com