Demystifying new technologies within the UK Public Sector

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Demystifying new technologies within the UK Public Sector


It's time to demystify new technology to help the UK's Public Sector embrace all that it can do for them. The truth is that Public Sector organisations are risk adverse, much more so than counterparts in the private sector. This is what we ultimately need, as their role in providing services to the communities they service is critical, and any impact goes beyond a balance sheet, affecting people’s lives. Where new technologies are being adopted, it is often in discrete areas of the organisation, or in a non-scalable project.

However, there is a growing swell of voices that suggest the pendulum does need to swing a bit the other way, and LAs and NHS need to embrace risk, albeit managed risk, more.

The challenge, as a technology provider, being the latest thing, the most cutting edge, puts you ahead of your competitors and ultimately helps you sell more. However, the opposite is often the case when solutions are pitched to the Public Sector. Due to their very nature of risk aversion, being “the first” is usually just seen as an increased risk. Public Sector organisations need to be more willing to have confidence in new developments when the private sector have embraced them already. To see beyond the marketing hype, to see the potential.

We are in the 4th industrial revolution right now. The development of new technology is leading to a step change in productivity through harnessing the power of things like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Natural Language Processing, Internet of Things and more. But what does this actually mean? Terms like “AI” are thrown around without context, and often without any real understanding… rather than FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), the Public Sector suffers from FOTU, Fear Of The Unknown.

So the challenge is to demystify. Don’t rely on the buzz-word but explain the outcome, describe a use case.

Robotics does not mean we are heading to a post-apocalyptic waste land where the remaining humans scavenge amongst burnt out vehicles. AI will not take over the world and make humans obsolete. Machine learning will not become self-aware at 15:30 in a council Revs & Bens department.

However, Robotics will make front and back office systems talk to each other without the need for people to spend hours retyping data. It will also ensure channel shift strategies are effective and fully scalable. Harnessing AI will enable Housing Associations to better manage reports of repairs from their tenants, reducing costs and satisfaction. Through Machine Learning the NHS will be able to automate GP eReferrals reducing referral times for patients with the most serious of conditions, increasing the likelihood of successful outcomes.

All of these will also help Public Sector organisations release humans to do what humans to… talk to patients, citizens and tenants, whilst also reducing costs. Win win. Now who would want to miss out on that?

By Richard Boddington, Senior Client Manager, Thoughtonomy