Unconsciously hybrid: the public sector and conscious digital transformation

Paul Rylands explains why the public sector must urgently become consciously hybrid and how organisations can adopt this approach and lead from the front during this transitionary time

The future will certainly be hybrid, but what does this actually mean for the public sector? Many organisations have found themselves ‘unconsciously hybrid’ over recent years, in a state of flux between legacy systems, on-premises infrastructure and incomplete ‘Cloud-First’ adoption.

While the pandemic has accelerated the need for scalable, flexible, and agile infrastructure to underpin digital transformation, 63 per cent of public sector organisations still do not have a dedicated cloud strategy. Having been plunged into survival mode, the sector now needs a clear roadmap towards a restored hybrid solution.

To deliver transformational services, the public sector must embrace a ‘consciously hybrid’ approach. This involves setting aside legacy thinking and unleashing the power of emerging technologies. A hybrid model enables organisations to collaborate more seamlessly across data sources, be it public cloud, on premises, or at the edge – all whilst minimising e-waste and overspending.

This time around, the right support is at hand for the public sector to become consciously hybrid. Managed workplace services providers offer the expertise and vision to effectively lead from the front during this transitionary time.

Sticking plasters and stretched budgets: barriers to cloud adoption
The last two years have proven that digital transformation is far from a ‘nice-to-have’: it is an essential tool for the design and delivery of key public services. But for government organisations chasing the digital revolution train, the disruption of Covid-19 caused it to turn around and start rolling towards them. Caught unprepared and off-guard, the sector has been forced to confront the immense need for investment in scalable, reliable digital infrastructure.

As national and local governments look to rebuild their digital transformation journeys post-Covid, the sticking plaster solutions of recent months are starting to make way for more solid foundations. However, legacy systems and traditional paper-based environments are proving significant barriers to the adoption of more agile, cloud-centric architecture. More than 70 per cent of public sector infrastructure and 73% of data remains on premises, leaving key information stranded on old systems and in static locations.

The lasting impact of budget cuts and austerity measures – coupled with subsequent concerns around data security in the public cloud - has fuelled the sector’s reliance on legacy infrastructure. While a reactive survival mindset may have seen the sector through the worst months of the pandemic, organisations now risk getting caught in data and legacy challenges. This may lead to them losing a key opportunity to place workloads in the right size environment and with the right access.

The limitations of the government’s ‘Cloud-First’ policy has also put some public sector organisations on the back foot when it comes to effective cloud adoption. Introduced in 2013 to level the IT supplier playing field, a lack of communication, training or expertise in cloud innovation saw success rates fluctuate across local governments, with many unable to properly see the initiative through.

As a result, the public sector finds itself in a state of flux between legacy systems, on-premises infrastructure, and newer, more agile operating models for cloud environments. Organisations are ‘unconsciously hybrid’, as a lack of coherence between their disparate systems is creating tension and hindering business growth.

Towards a unified, consciously hybrid approach
So, how can the public sector emerge from this stalemate and harness the power of cloud technology? The right managed workplace services (MWS) provider can guide local and central government in moving to a consciously hybrid solution. By securely bringing on-premises information together with the staff interacting with it – whether from an office, at home, or in a completely different location – organisations can benefit from improved visibility across their entire infrastructure. This enables the sector to innovate and adapt seamlessly on site, at the edge, and in the public cloud, whilst avoiding overspending and e-waste.

Creating an equal domain between office working and home-based work will also boost productivity and facilitate a culture of continuous learning and innovation. This will prove critical in a sector where 40 per cent of organisations currently cite a lack of in-house digital skills as a barrier to transformation. Hybrid cloud is an opportunity to break down departmental silos, as outcomes can be maximised through improved interoperability and interconnectivity.

MWS providers have the expertise to unify historic paper-based data and digitise it, before categorising the data into secure receptacles in the cloud. This enables organisations to consciously transition into a new digital environment, where they can work with much greater agility, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

In order to move away from legacy debt and stifling one-size-fits-all approaches, the public sector needs to supercharge their digital transformation strategies with a consciously hybrid mindset. Growing numbers of organisations are partnering with managed workplace services to unleash the power of cloud technology, thereby transforming outcomes for employees and citizens alike. By using technological innovation to break down barriers between legacy systems, on-premises infrastructure and public and private cloud, the sector can spearhead digital solutions that deliver real-world impact.  

Paul Rylands is Group Public Sector Director at workplace services provider Apogee Corporation.

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