Digital transformation priorities must be based on technology innovation.

Andy Lethbridge of BAE Systems Digital Intelligence explains why it’s often better to look at technology refresh than new digital innovation and build on what already exists.

Digital transformation has become an overused term. A silver bullet to make things better and justify your business case. However, in my experience, it often comes at a cost that can be avoided.

Ironically, digital transformation (the bright and the new) is seen as an easier path than competitive evolution. History teaches us that new is not always better, especially in central government.

new normal

New things are always exciting and fun, and creation moments are always fascinating. But it always requires more transplants, more money, more energy than taking an existing foundation and evolving it. Sure, the cloud and new technologies like serverless and quantum will require even more radical changes, but we’re not talking about systems built in the ’90s or his ’00s. keep them going.

What I’m referring to is a well-designed and engineered system that does what it’s intended to do, but is probably a bit unwieldy because it’s stuck in technical debt. I’m talking about a system that has this technical debt because it’s not prioritized and therefore not given a chance to fix the problem. Alternatively, investments are often spent building the next new system, often without learning the lessons of the past through technology refresh and repair.

Disassembling a laptop with a screwdriver during repair
© Golboby

Other reasons for building new things are often rooted in a lack of knowledge and understanding. The fear and desire of new people within the organization to create a legacy, the ability to say, “Look what we built,” rather than “Look what we fixed.” It takes a different type of person to build something better.

Additionally, building something new gives the impression that you have more control over what you build. Having been there from the beginning, you can claim that you know it inside and out. experience suggests otherwise. Lack of detailed understanding of competencies remains low.

more with less

The public sector has spent big bucks during the pandemic, some of which was probably unwise. One thing is certain, though. Getting the most out of a good investment is key. All the more so as saving money is essential as part of the post-pandemic economic recovery. By making more use of what we have and asking ourselves the very difficult question of whether construction or repair is better, the country can do more while spending less.

So how can the tech team extrapolate the maximum value from their investment before convincing the people who can control the budget that building something new and shiny is the right thing to do?

A basic, but often overlooked, important first step is to understand what capabilities exist and what capabilities are needed for innovation. This process is the most important, so don’t give lip service. Engage with suppliers if they are building capabilities. Make no assumptions and set aside preconceptions and unconscious biases. Only then can we truly examine the status quo and explore options for further evolution. I mean really exploring them – not just thinking they are too difficult or making decisions based on personal biases. Please point Somewhat unfortunately, governments have a rich tapestry to learn from IT and transformational failures. In the current economic climate, it is imperative not to repeat mistakes already made.

The evaluation stage is also important. It’s not easy to stick to a solution and give proper attention to all available options. Of course, if your evolving approach is still too risky, don’t let yourself be held hostage to your fortune. I’m not suggesting being as dogmatic about evolution as we are about current transformation. You need a balance.

Finally, evolve. To make this approach perfectly clear, I would like to focus on being data and user centric rather than system centric. Technology is not an end in itself. It has always been a means to an end. For too long, the focus has been on technology and systems because this was lost in the middle of translation.

market problem

As a final point, the public sector should strive to leverage open standards wherever possible and promote interoperability. There is so much available today that you are not bound by monolithic, single-source procurement. But rest assured. The market will continually tell you that it is what you need.

Ultimately it is important not to enter the market before you know what you want and not allow people to create jobs themselves. Create an environment of large scale commercial engagement Then, well, you can see the self-fulfilling prophecy. Often the wiser choice is to renovate rather than rebuild.

This article was provided by Andy Lethbridge, Head of Consulting for Central Government at BAE Systems Digital Intelligence.

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