2022: the year the public sector fights back

Tim Skinner, public sector director at NetApp UKI, discusses the challenges organisations face moving into 2022, and also the ways they can overcome these obstacles
credit: Tim Skinner

Nearly two years into the pandemic, COVID-19 is causing significant disruption to organisations and industries. In the public sector this has led to organisations being forced to find ways to reduce or control costs. But with a new year, often comes a new sense of optimism. With that in mind, it’s time to look ahead and see what else the public sector can expect.


More agile service will bring better user experience

The pandemic has forced people and services to be more streamlined and agile in terms of the way they use and embrace technology. Citizens have historically struggled with digital government services, such as applications for identity documents. But innovations over the past 18 months, like the NHS COVID-19 app indicate a step-change in user experience.

The app is easy-to-use, supports features such as facial recognition and touch, and just one of many examples of QR codes swimming against the tide to come back into fashion in the unlikeliest of circumstances. This trend is likely to continue as digital leaders within the public sector look to take advantage of intuitive technology interfaces as a means of making it easier for citizens to engage with public services.

Linked to this is the amount of data that has been shared with public departments. Of course, we shared information with various public services long before Covid-19. But in the last two years, the amount we’re sharing has grown dramatically. Interestingly, it appears that people have been more willing to share data with health services if it’ll be used to fight the pandemic. Studies in Ireland, the US and the UK have all reflected this sentiment.

Over the next 12 months, we’ll be more at ease with sharing data with these services, as uncertainty around the pandemic continues. This information sharing will lead to public services being streamlined and more data-driven, which in turn will make citizens even more aware of the value that sharing data can have on their lives.


Cloud adoption will continue to accelerate

UK enterprises and employees are in the midst of a major change cycle, which has been triggered, and sustained by the pandemic. Hybrid working environments are the expectation of employees across all office-based sectors moving forward. The ability to work anywhere will increase the digital capabilities businesses must provide to their staff.

As well as working practices, the pandemic also shone a light on labour shortages, which surfaced quickly and unexpectedly. This will be both a challenge and opportunity for high-skill sectors like the IT industry. On the one hand, there is bound to be fierce competition for skilled personnel. On the other hand, IT itself can deliver technologies that remedy the labour gap.

The global supply chain has been brought close to its breaking point by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on air, sea, and land travel. We predict that cloud adoption will accelerate faster as the supply chain constraints drive buyers to find alternatives to purchasing traditional on-premises infrastructure to meet demands.

Data will play an even more important role

Over the past 18 months, I’ve been struck by just how much people are talking about data. Immersing myself in data is part of my job but people from all walks of life beginning to understand the role data has in shaping their own lives. This will continue as we head deeper into 2022. As comfort levels around data sharing generally increases, public sector services will be obligated to be more data-driven in their decisions-making. This will make the interconnectedness of data as well as issues around data security and regulatory compliance essential.

Following on from this, there are growing calls for data to be shared more effectively within and between government agencies to improve digital services for citizens and businesses. Indeed, the Data Saves Lives whitepaper, which was published in June, stated that “data made all the difference” in combatting the coronavirus pandemic and one senses a desire across government to continue in this vein going forward.

As the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty in every facet of life, the public sector will face unique challenges in the new year. Data will play an increasingly important role as consolidation continues to happen. The public will also have a key role to play. Since the pandemic started, the level of information sharing has increased dramatically, which in turn has enabled public services to improve the usability and accuracy of digital government services.

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