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The future of collaboration in government

In the UK, ICT in central government is heading in one direction only – towards the cloud.

While the government’s Digital by Default agenda is putting ICT at the heart of public services, its Cloud Strategy is ensuring that cloud computing is central to meeting those challenges. As it states:

The vision is for government to adopt a public cloud first policy.

The motivations for government to move towards the cloud are clear – good cloud solutions are economical, flexible and deliver economies of scale. They are good for the economy too.

The government’s new Digital Marketplace, successor to the G-Cloud Cloudstore, is a dynamic supplier marketplace that supports emerging suppliers.

The Digital Marketplace is also the public sector’s ‘go-to’ source for cloud collaboration software, and central government is adopting it in many exciting and innovative ways. The Department of Health is using it to develop shared services. The Cabinet Office employs it to source ideas that will cut red tape. Scottish government and public sector bodies are creating a collaborative Scottish Wide Area Network Programme in the cloud, with the aim of cutting the cost of creating high quality public services.

So if the future of government collaboration is in the cloud, how will collaboration itself evolve? There’s a certain element of crystal ball gazing in answering this question, but we predict that it will become ever more deeply ingrained in government working. Not only are cloud collaboration platforms easily accessible and cost-effective to deploy, but as Sapient’s Bill Annibell remarks:

“As Baby Boomers begin to retire from their senior government positions, they will be replaced by Generation X and Y workers, both of which seem to embrace change…They are quick to adapt to the latest technology and often look forward to see what technological advancements are on the horizon. They are well aware of their personal brands and the impact it has on their future.”

If a technology to make their jobs more efficient is not available to them, workers from these Generations will find one and leverage it regardless of whether it is approved.
We would argue that this process is already happening in the UK. It also places in the spotlight what we regard as the most significant trend in public sector cloud collaboration use – innovation.

In over a decade of developing and supplying collaboration software to the UK public sector, we’ve noticed that, as organisations become confident cloud collaboration users they begin to deploy it in a multitude of innovative ways.

The scope for doing this is widest in local government, or departments that have a wide remit. For example, South Gloucestershire Council initially adopted our cloud collaboration platform, Kahootz, as a secure environment in which to develop core strategy work. But as colleagues throughout the organisation began to experiment with its capabilities, it quickly became used for dozens of innovative purposes and projects – from emergency planning and broadband roll-out; right through to waste management projects and mental health team collaboration.

This exploitation of the software’s agility is therefore the major trend we expect to become the hallmark of future collaboration in central government. Already government departments are using cloud collaboration for stakeholder engagement, procurement, partnership working, internal consultation, gateway reviews and more. They deploy it as organisational intranets, project management workspaces, online boardrooms, project extranets and in many other contexts.

In short, they are uncovering the ‘art of the possible’ that cloud collaboration affords them, to the extent that it is becoming integral to the way they work and communicate both internally and externally. And as this trend progresses, they will see increased savings, greater transparency and new work that has been made possible only by embracing collaboration in the cloud.

We’re in exciting times. Why not try online collaboration for yourself – there’s no telling where it might lead you.

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