More and more we are finding this question being asked of businesses in the private sector, and for many organisations operating in the public sector it’s no different.
“Future proofing” is a trend impacting the public sector at a time when it is also facing challenges such as an ageing population, tighter budgets, and an increasing demand for public services to be inclusive, effective and sustainable.
Along with these fresh challenges, we are also seeing a concerted effort from the public sector to streamline processes and provide more efficient services. We need only look at the Waiting Times Improvement Plan in the 2019/20 Scottish Budget for an example of the government actively investing in improved efficiency in public sector services.
Though there are new challenges, there are also increasing opportunities to face these issues by integrating new technologies and through collaboration with the private sector. Indeed, with both private and public sector organisations facing the same question – “is it future proof?” – there is no better time to embrace forward-thinking collaboration.
In fact, the Scottish Government is already encouraging collaboration between private and public sector organisations to solve issues. The Civtech digital accelerator programme is a great example of this. The programme was introduced by the government last year, and was designed to help public sector bodies use new and innovative technology to solve service delivery issues by setting a series of challenges for private companies to respond to.
For example, the private sector was challenged to look at how the Scottish Housing Regulator can use data to improve social housing standards. Another was to examine how NHS Scotland can make the waiting time system more efficient, and a direct impact of this particular challenge is of course felt in this year’s Budget through the Waiting Times Improvement Plan.
This type of cross-collaborative thinking between private and public sector bodies is going to become increasingly important for organisations in the public sector on its evolutionary journey.
However, the closer relationship between private and public sector does reveal a potential for other issues. In 2018, the conversation around how we ethically use and share data was paramount, and this is undoubtedly an important consideration for the private and public sector to keep top of mind as organisations continue to work together to streamline and future-proof services.
New technology, like the potential role Blockchain could play in future-proofing public sector services, also brings questions around data protection to light. Although Blockchain can actually help improve data security, and the public sector in Scotland has remained relatively untouched by any major data breaches, that doesn’t mean complacency around how we share, use and store data should come into play.
The Scottish Public Sector will likely continue to see new challenges in 2019, but challenges are to be expected. The idea of a “future-proofed” public sector doesn’t suggest it can fully eliminate challenges, but it could mean a public sector that has more tools at its disposable to respond to issues in increasingly efficient, effective ways.
New technologies and collaboration between the public and private sectors will continue to benefit Scotland as organisations work towards delivering services that are prepared for the future. So long as public sector organisations don’t become complacent, there is a huge opportunity for the public sector to enjoy increased efficiency as it responds to the many challenges it faces.