You don’t have to look too far these days before you are bombarded with talk of the ‘digital agenda’. The question for many is what difference does digital actually make to our everyday lives?

Most of us recognise the impact made by the widespread advent of the internet; it meant no longer having to walk from shop to shop to nail the best prices or having to sit for hours in the travel agents to secure that well-earned fortnight in the sun.  But, as we know, the attraction to online extends beyond securing a bargain – it’s about convenience.  The rhetorical question is how many of us would go back to the good old days of waiting in a queue to pay our council tax at a public counter or choose to navigate the options of an automated phone service before liaising with a dedicated contact centre?

Arguably, nowadays, digital technologies have taken interactions with human beings out of the process completely in favour of our smartphones or tablet devices.  Our favoured mobile apps understand our requirements and satisfy our needs by bringing the service to us, whether it be the need for a taxi from your current location (Uber), a recommendation for a restaurant in an unfamiliar city (TripAdvisor) or purchase a train ticket from your current nearest station to anywhere in the UK (Trainline).  Hardly surprising then there is an ever increasing demand for fully functional mobile apps to facilitate every aspect of our lives including our public services.

The key reflection is digital thinking is more than applying available technology, it’s about changing the mindset to put the service requirements of the citizen at the centre and designing the service around those needs.

As we know, government agencies across the UK are currently faced with the dual pressures of ‘achieving more for less’ and meeting the demand for ‘improved services for citizens’.  Digital provides the opportunity to achieve the modern responsive and dynamic public services sought by citizens through the approach of fitting services to the user, rather than asking the user to fit traditional service models.  This delivers the desired user interface of public services, whilst realising the much needed reduction in costs from streamlined processes and infrastructure.

Here in Scotland, the Government has demonstrated leadership in support of the agenda with its vision to be a world-class digital nation by 2020 and its Scotland’s Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services strategy, which  asserts the future requirement as innovative, effective and user-focused public services.  In furtherance of the national strategic vision, and with an appreciation of the organisational and user benefits brought, public bodies are understandably eager to realise the potential of their own digital ambitions.

The challenge for the public sector is in the facilitation of digital thinking; avoiding the temptation of traditional thinking, and to existing models and processes in favour of new approaches centred around the needs of the citizen.  To achieve this requires access to the requisite digital skills and expertise to support in-house teams in the creation of digital transformational strategies and also to ensure successful delivery of the necessary organisational changes and implementation of the new operational delivery methods, all at the pace required by digital organisations and expected by the citizen.

Exception work with some of the UK’s largest companies and government agencies to integrate digital service into their existing operations to expand their reach and enhance service delivery.

If you’re looking for advice or support with any aspect of your digital project or future ambitions, contact Exception today.

Paul Rooney (Head of Public Sector, Exception)

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