At first glance, technology doesn’t appear to be an election winner – but it’s pretty crucial that the new administration gets it right. “Technology will underpin the delivery of almost every major policy enacted over the next five years,” remarked the editor of Computer Weekly, Bryan Glick, earlier this month.
IT is an important industry in its own right, on par with financial services and manufacturing – but innovation from the IT sector also has the potential to drive tangible results when it comes to the big issues: the economy, education, healthcare, and the transformation of government itself.
“Name a policy priority, and tech is at its heart,” says Glick.
In healthcare, where the NHS is struggling, significant growth in innovation and increased adoption of technology is required to meet demand. In education, teachers require the support to provide advanced digital skills at every level – equipping both the current and the next generation for a changing workplace. In turn, this will boost business and improve the state of the economy.
It is also crucial to sustain growth and excitement for start-ups across the UK, with success stories such as TransferWise and Affectv spawning from our shores last year. Most politicians recognise the importance of promoting the UK as a world leader outside of Silicon Valley, and the Liberal Democrats have highlighted that of all new firms created last year, 15% were digital – with the potential to scale-up and grow fast by nature, and to provide a much-needed boost to the economy.
The business of government itself should also see a continued drive towards digitisation. This applies both nationally and locally. The ongoing aim of all three main political parties is for public services to become ‘digital by default’, and the Government Digital Service (GDS) has been lauded as one of the key successes of the coalition. However, industry leaders are calling for further development of G-cloud (the government’s cloud software and services purchasing framework) as legacy contracts reach an end or come up for renewal.
So fundamental has technology become to our infrastructure that there is now a clear need for the appointment of a digital minister with a defined role – just as digital strategists have been introduced in corporate organisations. You have only to tap into any job search application to see that the call for digital managers is expanding in other sectors too.
An increasingly digitised government should be able to cut costs, increase efficiency, and improve public services – regardless of its positioning to the right or to the left.