Hot takes from the largest government DDaT conference

Standing room onlyHundreds of civil servants came together yesterday in Westminster for Government Transformation Summit and Government Data Summit.

Bringing together Director Generals, Directors and their senior teams, alongside technical leaders from industry, the day revolved around a series of thought leadership discussion tables generating some lively debate.

But away from the spotlight of the main stage, what themes did delegates highlight? Here are some of our own key takeaways.

Reach out for resource

DDAT skills were another hot topic, as always. Most attendees who bent our ear described resource gaps at government agencies, with private-sector salaries understandably tempting some talent away from the civil service. This was a concern, but there were differences of opinion over whether problems lie in finding skills at a junior or mid level, or replacing years of senior knowhow that can be lost as soon as someone walks out of the door. Positive news, however, came from several summit panellists who highlighted fresh career paths and cultures in our walk of life that are making a difference to recruitment and retention.

AI is on the march

We journalists are well aware that ChatGPT (other copy bots are available) might be about to steal our jobs. But civil servants, and even vendors in the AI space, are anxious too. One technology leader confided that his company’s devs had seen coding written by AI that was “pretty good - almost too good!” But attendees on both the civil service and vendor side are sceptical about how much regulation is really in discussion, despite authorities reportedly gearing up to take action.

Innovation’s the new big idea

Several civil servants told the Government Transformation Magazine team that their organisation is blazing an innovation trail. When pressed, the ideas that turn into MVPs seem strictly designed to tackle today’s issues rather than soothsay and solve those of tomorrow.

Perhaps it’s inevitable in the current climate when budgets are tight and society’s problems plentiful that innovation is needed for the here and now. And in any case, it’s great to hear that such incubators are springing up - and thriving.

The event speakers and panellists certainly banged the drum for experimentation as a route to both quick wins and game-changing success.

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