Technology and organisational change in the public sector by Michael Wignall - Government Industry Manager | Microsoft UK In our personal lives, we have high expectations of digital services. We shop, bank and interact online. Similarly, businesses use software such as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning tools to deliver better services to their customers. Following these examples, the government wants to deliver more services online, going ‘digital by default.’ The digital opportunity The potential rewards are huge. Every year, the government handles a billion different transactions across 650 different services. Digital services can be 20 times cheaper than doing the same thing by phone, 30 times compared to post and 50 times less expensive than a face-to-face transaction. Delivering more public services digitally will make our interactions with government as efficient, resulting in savings of £1.7 billion a year. Besides saving the taxpayer money, the government’s digital strategy promises far-reaching benefits. Digital services are more convenient and efficient for citizens too – just compare renewing your car tax disc online with queuing at the post office to do it. They reduce paperwork and environmental impacts. They promise more joined-up care in social and health service delivery, which is better for customers and patients. Digital in the real world In an example of ‘digital by default’, University College London worked with Microsoft and Tribal Group to create a patient relationship management system for patients with childhood diabetes using Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The system gives patients and their families 24/7 access to advice as well as creating a secure, shared tool for sharing information. “Our aim was to mimic the way retailers use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track their dealings with consumers over time and deliver a much more joined-up service,” says Professor Peter Hindmarsh. Going digital The project exemplifies successful strategies for public sector organisations looking to go digital: User focused. The system starts with the needs of the citizen and works back from them. It gives patients access to the information they need to become self-sufficient. Joined-up delivery. It reaches across traditional boundaries. For example, it can engage schools, parents and clinicians giving them secure access to information that is relevant to them. Supports new ways of working. Remote access means that patients and other users can access the system whenever and wherever is most convenient. It reduces paperwork and makes people more productive. Critically, University College’s approach – using proven off-the-shelf software and adapting it for public sector needs – proved pragmatic and efficient. It enabled Professor Hindmarsh and his team deploy a prototype system very quickly and then build on existing features to expand capability. In doing so, it met government IT objectives of working with SMEs (such as Tribal Group), delivering agile, responsive IT services, increasing productivity and focusing on results that matter to the client (such as better disease management). Above all, it shows how ‘digital by default’ can also mean ‘better by design’ thanks to technology.