4 Challenges Facing IT Infrastructure Leaders in the Public Sector

Piers Kelly
May 17, 2022

Digital transformation continues to play an important role in the public sector. It can offer many benefits, including increased agility and better organisational culture. However, for many IT leaders in the public sector, embracing digital transformation and making it a success can be a challenging prospect.

IT Infrastructure challenges

In this article, we’ll outline four challenges IT infrastructure leaders face in the public sector when it comes to digital transformation and offer guidance on how to overcome them.

  1. Ageing Legacy Systems
  2. Procurement Challenges
  3. Skills and Labour Shortages
  4. Lack of Data Analysis

1. Ageing Legacy Systems

Many public sector organisations rely heavily upon legacy systems. This creates challenges when delivering digital change and scaling an operation. 

A recent investigation by the Public Accounts Committee revealed there’s a ‘legacy’ IT issue that stems across the public sector. The slow progress in tackling poor data structures and inefficiencies across government departments has clearly impacted decision-making for many years.

Legacy systems also come at a cost. It’s believed that around £2.3billion is spent patching up outdated systems every year, some of which date back to over 30 years old. 

To overcome the challenges related to legacy systems, organisations need to understand how to maximise the value of emerging technologies so they can improve the delivery of critical services.

There are many approaches for maximising the value of emerging technologies. We’ve outlined some of them in one of our articles.

2. Procurement Challenges

Reforming procurement processes is also crucial to the success of the public sector navigating towards digital transformation.

A recent study found that public sector leaders identified support for agile development processes as the top procurement change needed to drive their digital transformation, with 45% saying this is a priority. 

Many historic procurement processes assumed established ways of working would always remain stable. This led organisations to favour long-term contracts with suppliers, making it difficult to remove legacy systems and invest in emerging technologies.

Increased flexibility is key to overcoming this challenge. Organisations need to simplify their procurement processes and foster more flexible relationships with their suppliers. We’ve explained how to effectively implement a procurement transformation in this blog post.

3. Skills and Labour Shortages

The UK is currently facing a digital skills gap. This is another critical challenge for public sector organisations looking to embrace digital transformation.

An IDC study recently surveyed 250 health, government and education leaders worldwide, with 63% stating a lack of skills and experience is a barrier to them taking on more digital projects.

As more digital tools become available, such as apps, devices and platforms, this skills gap will likely continue to expand.

Therefore, organisation leaders need to take action. This can be done by identifying skills gaps and supporting the workforce by providing training and upskilling opportunities. 

Several frameworks have been developed to support organisations with their efforts. One of those is the people, process and technology framework.

You can learn more about this framework and how it works in practice here.

4. Lack of Data Analysis

Data is king. It aids decision-making, improves results and allows organisations to become more strategic in their approaches.

However, in a survey from UKCloud, over half of respondents believed they didn’t have the resources necessary to understand and drive efficiencies from the data they had collected.

While part of the problem is related to the point mentioned above — a lack of data skills among employees in the public sector — there are other reasons why lack of data analysis can be challenging for IT infrastructures. 

Data availability needs to improve in the public sector, too. Data needs to be easily accessible, transferable and available for employees to re-use, allowing for a seamless flow of data between individuals, organisations and even international borders.

For this to happen, organisations need to adopt cloud technologies — and they need to do it safely as well.

Discover More About Overcoming the Challenges Above at the 8th Annual Digital Government Conference

An effective strategy and cutting edge solutions will play a key role in overcoming challenges in IT infrastructure. Join us on the 18th May, where experts will share their advice on what needs to be done to make it happen.

You can register your place via the link below.
Digi Gov