Charting New Territories: the Public Sector's Path to Digital Transformation

Evrim Tekeşin, Dynatrace

Digital transformation is no longer a nice to have but an essential part of organisations’ effort to drive operational efficiency, enhance customer experiences and improve data-driven decision-making.

Charting New Territories: the Public Sector's Path to Digital Transformation

Those in the public sector are no exception, but they do face a unique set of challenges when it comes to digital transformation, including:

  • Resistance to change
  • Bureaucratic difficulties
  • Fragmented department structures  

In November 2023, Dynatrace, in partnership with AWS led a roundtable with digital experts from central government to explore these challenges and discuss why the pace of modernisation and adoption of new technology varies so drastically across the public sector.

Attitudes to change

A key challenge highlighted during the event is that process change is dependent on people. While technology is crucial for facilitating transformation, it alone isn’t sufficient for driving it. So, it is vital to assess how technology impacts individuals across all organisational levels.

Organisations must also be conscious that individuals have varying attitudes to operational shifts, which often fall into one of three categories:

  1. Those who readily embrace change
  2. Those who resist change
  3. Those who wait to see what happens before committing

By ignoring these diverse attitudes, organisations can limit their own efforts to drive digital transformation. In the public sector, this comes with increased challenges, as projects face greater public criticism and operate at a slower pace compared to private companies.

To overcome this, organisations should provide detailed explanations of suggested transformation projects, so that all teams have a chance to prepare – especially when transformation involves disrupting organisational culture.

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Driving trust-based change

Trust is the foundation of successful transformation, so it is essential that change is understood at all levels of an organisation to encourage confidence in the project. Successful teams thrive in an environment where it is okay to fail and admit mistakes. But public sector organisations must go further than just accepting failure – it’s also important to fail fast, so they can quickly pivot.

Teams must be willing to embrace failure and drive meaningful transformation to avoid ‘change fatigue’. In the public sector this can be a complex issue, driven by conflicting agendas, which can leave people disillusioned. Public sector organisations must make decisions fast and maintain a reasonable pace of transformation to avoid fear of failure creeping back and risking the success of digital projects.

Measuring successes

The fragmentary nature of public sector services means it can be difficult to accurately measure the success of digital transformation projects and encourage employees to continue the momentum. Each public sector organisation and department uses different sources of information and data, so it is challenging to create a holistic picture of the real-world impact.

As public sector organisations embark on their digital transformation journey they need to find ways to manage this abundance of data and evaluate the impact of each project. End-to-end observability is crucial for gaining this level of understanding.

Not only will observability help teams to improve the reliability of their services, but it will provide leaders and employees with real-time insight into how digital transformation is impacting the public and leading to better citizen experiences.

Delivering digital transformation excellence

Dynatrace’s discussion with public sector leaders shone a light on the need for digital transformation projects to focus on the people, not just the technology.

Without creating a culture of trust and buy-in, digital transformation projects will never succeed. Public sector organisations are complex and so understanding how digital transformation will impact employees and the public is vital.

Dynatrace helps public sector organisations to realise their full potential and is proud to have been recognised by Tussell and techUK as one of the 200 fastest-growing technology companies in the UK public sector. You can meet Dynatrace at DigiGov Expo, the UK's largest public sector technology event on 24th - 25th September 2024.