We’ve all heard a lot about the ‘Uber effect’ or 'Uberisation' - empowering consumers with on the move, mobile and secure services. Not only is the Uber effect changing how we work it’s impacting the way we as consumers interact with everything – from shopping and paying our bills, to booking doctor’s appointments and (of course) hailing taxis.
The banking industry is a great example of this quite extraordinary transformation. Mobile applications have become a staple of modern banking. For example, recent statistics from Natwest show more people make payments through their phone than through any other touch point. These applications are no longer sought after; they are a key point of differentiation when it comes to bringing in business and it’s usable, flexible, scalable applications that will equate to success.
Businesses across the globe cannot ignore this phenomenon, and neither can the public sector. Governments too are attempting to become more flexible and mobile to better connect with the public and offer them the service they have now come to expect.
It’s safe to say these government projects haven’t always been a roaring success. To most, a government digitalisation project conjures the image of millions of pounds disappearing down the proverbial drain. For example, in 2013, when the BBC decided to abandon its digital production system - throwing away £100 million of license fee money. The Public Accounts Committee head, Margaret Hodge labeled the new system “more cumbersome than the 40-year-old system it was designed to replace” having only 163 regular users and costing £3m a year to maintain.
Universal Credit, a programme setup by the Department of Work and Pensions (which is technically still ongoing) has cost the taxpayer £700m and has seen very little progress after continuous delays. The system has been designed to merge several benefits programmes but has been described by job centre employees as “completely unworkable, badly designed and already out of date.”
The most infamous failure is perhaps the ill-fated NHS IT refresh. Having been set up in 2002, estimates put the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) as overrunning by over 450%, costing an enormous £10.4 billion in taxpayer money. In 2013, MP’s labeled it the “worst and most expensive contracting fiasco in the history of the public sector.”
The government clearly faces a huge challenge in outsourcing but it will need to innovate quickly and effectively to keep in touch with the digital economy. Fundamental changes are needed to challenge and change internal processes. In the long-term, these changes will save time and money providing a huge boost to the economy. What if your local council could message you if you forgot to put your bin out, giving you time to run outside before the bin men arrive? The digital economy is here to stay, and the government should embrace it. Currently, neither the public nor the government is getting the desired result. Misplaced resources and a lack of education and knowledge have meant the government have spend far too much on outdates systems and projects instead of innovating the user experience.
In today’s digital economy governments need to be empowered by innovative technology in the same way their people are. A database is key to any organisation, and sits at the heart of the digital economy through its safekeeping of all-important information. The right database can effectively evolve an organisation’s offering, giving customers fast access to a variety of data. Non-relational databases (called NoSQL) offer an easy win - increased speed, flexibility, scalability, and crucially offering savings on their current database bill. By embracing this new technology, the government would be able to develop agile, responsive and ultimately future-proof apps, providing the public with levels of flexibility we’ve come to expect.
By David Maitland, General Manager, EMEA at Couchbase