Over the Christmas and New Year period I’ve seen a number of articles released with predictions on what will happen in the tech industry in 2015. “Wearables”, “Cloud” and “Apps” seem to be at the core of these; driven by the rise of the digital native. But does that have any relevance to a supplier trying to be the catalyst for change, in the Public Sector industry where budget deficits, coupled with a heavy reliance upon legacy infrastructure, stifles innovation. As an Account Executive working for Salesforce in Government, here are my predictions:

The re-rise of “future legacy”

Over the last few months I’ve attended a number of Government events where pockets of innovators have been getting together to share success. The aim of developing repeatable solutions, on open-source software, to be shared across all of Government is a noble one. Imagine a world where a Local Authority could just borrow another’s code and it has a fully working solution for, for example, adult social care. I don’t think it’s possible for any supplier to argue against that utopia. However, my major concern is one for the future. Yes, common systems based upon open source vendors could be created, shared and implemented; but it drives important questions that need to be discussed:

- Is the role of Government to provide services for Citizens, or to re-create the tools to deliver them?

- Who innovates on the “Government-as-a-Service” open source platform to maintain relevance?

- Is there a total cost of ownership win if the number of developers hired by Government increases exponentially, rather than using previously developed, proprietary software?

2015 may well be the year of the Chief Digital Officer, or it may not.

A pragmatic assessment of cost vs. security

Data Security within Government is, understandably, paramount. No individual wants their personal tax, health, or police record shared with criminal organisations who could use it for their gain. However, providing a blanket policy for data security at the “highest common denominator” is not only cost-ineffective, it also doesn’t drive innovation that could benefit the citizen.

Personally, I have no issue with where data about me is hosted; I’m not planning on starting any fringe groups or hacking into the Government network. If, for example, Government could provide me with a list of services based upon my location, all related to a single record that is hosted wherever, accessible via a mobile device I’m all for it. Facebook and Amazon (show’s my age) have far more information about me than my local authority and I trust them to provide me a secure, but personalised service.

Soon enough Government will take pragmatic viewpoints with regards to data residency and security, allowing for innovation, cost saving and more accessibility – I just hope it’s sooner, rather than later.

The hard work starts here…

I don’t think many can argue with the work that GDS have been doing over the last 18-24 months. Providing digital access to Government services helps inclusion, drives costs down and provides services that citizens want to use. Those digital exemplars that were so visible and successful have now been completed, and the work needs to start in middle and back office where the real challenge lays.

Delivering quality services to citizens is more than providing access to data, or getting one transaction online; it’s about changing the way those services are delivered from first contact, through to resolution. The more simple (in no way simple!) work is almost done… now is where the challenge, and fun, begins.

All in all 2015 will be a dramatic year for public services; a new government (but possibly the same colour), a further round of austerity and a new set of devices (wearables) all needing to be prioritized. The challenge is delivering this, for minimal total cost, while the world takes giant leaps forward.

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This article was carefully crafted by Michael Nelson, a Salesforce UK Public Sector expert.