Business > Transformation

Socitm: ‘Place’ fundamental in addressing digital transformation

Matteo Natalucci Published 10 October 2017

Martin Ferguson, Socitm’s director of Policy & Research, discusses the benefits of a place-based solution to tackle digital transformation and the requisite leadership to achieve it

 

Martin Ferguson, Socitm’s director of Policy & Research yesterday discussed “modern leadership for place-based outcomes” at the Annual Socitm conference in Leicester.

Ferguson leads Socitm’s policy and research work on redesign and digital transformation of public services. His current work covers digital innovation in government, health and social care integration, diversity and digital skills in the workforce, and cyber security. Ferguson’s local government career spans planning, housing, leisure and recreation, IT and information services. He has also contributed to the British Council’s e-governance programmes in Brazil and central Asia.

Ferguson said in an interview with Government Computing that ‘place’ is fundamental in addressing digital transformation as it is in places that priorities are set and networks are established. ‘Places’, he said, are the best starting point to develop policy as “the well being of people is best addressed in the place context”. Indeed, top down initiatives might not address the needs of local communities and result in less efficient policies.

‘Place’ refers to the whole ‘locality’ where future ICT service delivery is being delivered. Socitm has previously said that “platforms and places” are the essential components for delivering tomorrow’s local public services, and all senior ICT managers should be planning their future strategy around them now.

Ferguson believes the model of leadership needed to better address digital transformation should be focused on the communities’ interests and priorities, as well as based on partnership aimed at achieving shared goals. It is a model that will allow local governments not to act as silos, but actually to join up to the outcomes that they want to achieve.

In a recent blog Ferguson said , “The next government needs to accelerate digital thinking to improve the joining up of services. The new metro mayors may help achieve this, but many parts of the UK are working to generate place-based digital leadership through bringing together civil servants, councillors, chief executives and other senior managers for education and training”.

He said, “Place-based work requires the breaking of organisations’ silo walls, and this has to include the integration of health run by NHS organisations and social care run by local government... The process would be accelerated through a single information governance toolkit for government and standardised, model designs and digitally-enabled processes for key areas of health and social care.”

He continued, “Central government can help this happen by providing adequate seed funding to facilitate a quick and widespread transition to shared platforms where these make sense. Without such platforms, progress will be slow and patchy as existing council budgets cannot cope with both business as usual and transition programmes. Cost benefits, efficiency and better service outcomes will only succeed if new seed money is invested. While the Government Digital Service is developing some potential shared platforms, the business model for these remains uncertain,” he added.








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