The UK public sector harbours hidden digital transformation 'deficit'

New research reveals many public sector transformation strategies are being driven by technology or competitive impulse rather than by citizens’ needs

Many UK public sector organisations are missing key steps necessary to achieving their digital transformation objectives, a new report reveals – creating the risk that public transformation projects fail to fully deliver their intended benefits. 

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of public sector organisations currently delivering digital transformation projects don’t have an overarching data strategy, while 71% can’t effectively gather, collate and manage data and 68% aren’t confident they can protect it once they have it. 

The research, published by ArvatoConnect – formerly Arvato CRM Solutions – and which surveyed* 200 customer experience, IT and transformation decision-makers in UK central and local government bodies also found that four in five (83%) haven’t gathered feedback from citizens on how their existing solutions are working and nearly nine in ten (87%) haven’t trained employees on new technologies or processes. 

Similar proportions admitted to not gaining employee or citizens’ buy-in on their transformation plans (both 79%) or even setting key performance indicators (KPIs) (78%).

ArvatoConnect, which provides customer experience and business optimisation services to central and local government organisations and other public sector bodies, says that organisations are misplacing their confidence and that skipping these important steps is creating a ‘digital deficit’ – a disconnect between transformation plans’ objectives, and the reality of what they are likely to achieve.

To read the complete Digital Deficit report, follow the link below: 

James Towner, Chief Growth Officer, ArvatoConnect, said: “While our research tells us that many public bodies are confident in delivering successful digital transformation projects and have such projects underway, this confidence may be misplaced. 

“Transformation is critical to delivering better and greater value public services, but the programmes that are missing steps like gathering citizen and employee feedback and even setting KPIs is concerning. 

“These steps constitute key foundations of successful digital transformation projects, and organisations must take this into account and focus on closing these ‘digital deficits’.”

ArvatoConnect’s report also uncovered that many public sector transformation strategies were being driven by technology or competitive impulse rather than by organisations’ or citizens’ needs. 

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of decision-makers admitted that their transformation strategies were being led more by available digital solutions than what their citizens or organisations actually require. Meanwhile, two-fifths said their plans were being shaped by simply trying to keep pace with other public bodies (40%), or even private businesses (36%). 

This type of transformation approach could mean that common customer experience problems are left unaddressed. A separate YouGov poll of UK adults**, commissioned by ArvatoConnect, found that nearly half (47%) of UK adults had experienced an issue when contacting a government body in the last 12 months, while more than two-thirds (68%) had experienced an issue contacting a company.   

James Towner continued: “Any transformation programme needs to be grounded in a clear understanding of the needs of the organisation, its customers or its citizens. 

“Organisations mustn’t fall into the trap of spending time and money on developing solutions that are then left looking for a problem to ‘fix’.

“Taking the time to get the basics right – and seeking the right support with digital transformation planning – will only generate better results over the long term."

The Digital Deficit report is the first launched by ArvatoConnect, formerly Arvato CRM Solutions. 

The business is a trusted partner to government departments and local authorities, with clients including Crown Commercial Services and the Department for Education.

The new brand – launched in February 2024 – reflects the expansion of the business’ proposition to incorporate both customer experience and business optimisation services, underpinned by innovative, technology-led solutions. 

To read the complete Digital Deficit report, follow the link below: 


*Research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of ArvatoConnect in December 2023. The sample included 201 UK customer experience, transformation or IT decision-makers in public sector organisations currently engaged in digital transformation. 

**These figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,133 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th - 15th January 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

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