By Daniel Hunter

UK public sector leaders participating in a study commissioned by Ricoh UK have defined the key attributes required of tomorrow’s successful public sector CIO. The two most important attributes (ranked joint first) are: a background in marketing and expertise in technology, followed in third place by business critical process expertise.

Furthermore, public sector leaders are overwhelmingly positive about their CIOs, with 90 per cent agreeing they are equipped to drive forward the digital transformation of public service delivery. Such attributes correlate with the renewed vigor for the sector to further drive efficiency and at the same time, improve digital services for citizens.

“The public sector is clearly indicating that it is essential for CIOs to understand the communication needs of citizens in the future," says Paul Braham, director, IT & Professional Services, Ricoh UK.

"The objectives are set, as the Government Digital Strategy focuses on making it easier for citizens and businesses to interact with public bodies anywhere in the UK and ensure UK public services meet the new digital standard by April 2014.On top of that the Digital by Default standard has set 15 key criteria that teams must meet and be able to maintain this quality for the full life of their service."

However, in spite of the optimism and support for today’s CIO, the study shows that over two thirds (68 per cent) of European public sector organisations are far from ready for digital transformation.

The possible reasons for the slow pace of change are revealed as public sector leaders say that while their CIOs are most empowered to drive change in the critical areas of financial management, customer engagement and data/business intelligence, just 9 per cent are able to change business critical processes.

In addition, just 29 per cent consider change management as a key CIO attribute, which is essential to introduce new ways of working and to lead the public sector into the digital era.

“As CIOs juggle the many tasks demanded of them to lead the digital transformation of public services, it is no wonder that some areas are not being adequately addressed,” says Braham.

“As they focus on balancing the right technology with the needs of citizens, the business processes that connect technology with people are often being overlooked. Such processes are underpinning the day-to-day work of public sector employees and feature in all interactions with citizens.

"If these processes are fully optimised and implemented with an effective change management programme, CIOs will benefit from increased knowledge sharing, more agile processes and the ability to accelerate services for citizens into the digital era.

“CIOs are not alone on this journey. They have the support of their peers to lead the public sector into the future and they have already put the needs of citizens at the top of their agenda. The last challenge is to find the right partner to review and optimise the processes that will ensure people and technologies work together. If accomplished, the rewards are high.

"The Government has estimated that making public services digital could save between £1.7 and £1.8 billion per year. With effective document processes optimisation, the sector can access information securely and process documents more efficiently, ensuring best-in-class citizen services.”