At the heart of the public sector are a number of core values that guide its purpose and priorities. A relentless focus on citizen impact forms the bedrock of the sector, guiding every decision, at all levels, across each department.
Here at NTT DATA, we share the aim of focusing on the things that can make a positive and lasting impact to the lives of citizens. It’s that sense of purpose that gets our people up in the morning: the tangible link between the work they do and the difference they can make.
When there is a meeting of minds and a shared set of values, it really does help bolster successful project delivery.
2020 – Looking Back
2020 was a year like never before. The coronavirus pandemic threw the public sector into uncharted territory, forcing decisions to be taken with no precedent to draw upon. We saw timelines massively compressed, procurements fast-tracked and services transformed in record time in order to deliver essential services to citizens when they needed them most.
The rollout of a vaccine after just 10 months was also a huge milestone for the government, facilitated by a remarkable unified effort across government to deliver the necessary regulation, innovation and infrastructure at scale.
This period also witnessed a two-way flow of innovation between the public and private sector.
At The University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust, we work in partnership together, running core infrastructure and application services across three major hospitals and eight other locations. UHL’s response to the pandemic led to a number of exciting innovations with significant positive impact on citizens’ lives. One project in particular started when UHL’s head of emergency medicine, Professor Tim Coats and Digital Innovation Lead & Consultant in Emergency Medicine Ben Teasdale, realised that their colleagues had experienced several medical near misses – known in the NHS as ‘never events’ – because they were unable to make themselves understood when issuing important clinical instructions whilst wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They asked NTT DATA to help find a solution.
NTT DATA leveraged its worldwide team to look for candidate technologies. In the end, with the support of a group of Formula 1 teams working together as part of “Project Pitlane”, technicians from Renault F1 and Red Bull F1 helped design a novel solution using neck mics, air tube earpieces and a customised control box with a speaker worn under the clinician’s gown. The system is now being deployed at UHL and will hopefully benefit the rest of the NHS in due course.
The year ahead
2020 was a year of incremental change and technology acceleration – a trend that is likely to continue into 2021. As we move towards a post-pandemic world, the government will look to invest in more job creation and digital skills to mitigate the damage inflicted by the pandemic, and ultimately help fuel the economic recovery.
2021 also looks set to be a year of technological innovation, with three particular trends emerging on the horizon.
- The first is that of Civil Service capability development. A focus on building out internal capability within Departments and using technology to facilitate blended teams, knowledge transfer and approaches for sustainable delivery.
- My second prediction concerns the management of agile services. Focusing on adopting agile is well entrenched across public services, but we regularly encounter challenges with how this rapid delivery merges with ‘traditional’ service towers – particularly where increased automation and DevOps platforms have shifted traditional responsibilities away from legacy service providers. As we progress through 2021, I except we will see managed service provision become increasingly agile in response, with more of a focus on ‘Ops’.
- Cloud will also continue to dominate the public sector in 2021, with multi-cloud architectures taking centre stage. With the growing democratisation in the adoption of public cloud services, organisations will increasingly select multiple cloud providers for different business problems and domains.
Rising to the challenge
The coming year will not be without its challenges for the public sector. Rollout of the vaccine is expected to take months, with many experts predicting we may not see any kind of return to normality until Easter at the earliest. The UK government will also face the challenges of navigating the country’s new relationship with the European Union, now that the transition period has ended.
The innovative, robust, and agile response of public sector professionals in 2020 will serve them well to rise to whatever challenges this coming year may bring.