The top priority areas for DDaT leaders in 2024
As we ring in 2024 here at Government Transformation Magazine, we asked several Digital Data and Technology leaders in central government and the wider public sector about their to-do lists and predictions for the year ahead. Here’s what they said:
DWP has a new digital strategy
Rich Corbridge, Chief Digital & Information Officer at DWP said: “AI and Machine Learning will continue to make the headlines. Of equal importance to me is how organisations like DWP Digital use data to improve the lives of millions of people. We need to make sure that the data we have can become information for our colleagues to offer the best possible services to our customers.
Bringing all these elements together will be the driving force in DWP’s five year Digital Strategy, launching in early 2024, he said. "With this strategy, we will be well positioned to realise the potential of data, providing us with the insight to refine and join up customer journeys and become an efficient and customer centred organisation.”
Data quality rises up the agenda
“Data quality will remain the top priority”, said Fiona James, Chief Data Officer at the Office for National Statistics, “particularly as we move toward a standardised approach for the indexing and matching of data across government
“Another top priority is to see frictionless access to data for highly skilled government analysts, thanks to emerging efforts to streamline existing data governance. Finally, I think 2024 will see government’s own large language data models enabling greater analytical insight and efficiency.”
Location data to play key role in climate change
John Kimmance, Managing Director of National Mapping Services at Ordnance Survey (OS), believes the role of location in supporting solutions for sustainability will become increasingly critical as the planet tries to understand the ongoing impact of climate change. “One of the most significant impacts of climate change is flooding. Accurate location data is vital for the prevention, planning, response and recovery of these incidents and OS has a long history of supporting local authorities and emergencies in this."
Another focus for OS will be health and wellbeing: “The 20 minute neighbourhood will become part of a louder conversation as we recognise that transport contributes to around 26% of greenhouse pollution. An initiative that means individuals can do their bit for sustainability by leaving their cars behind and also keep themselves active and more healthy is going to gain greater momentum and has already been adopted in cities across the world.”
The pace of technological change
John Seabourn, Chief Digital and Information Officer at North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) said the pace of change is ever increasing with new technologies appearing at a staggering rate. "The challenge is to link these to real-world challenges to ensure they have a positive impact on society. The fundamentals of open quality data, the right people and collaboration to make this possible remain unchanged.”
Nic Granger, Director of Corporate and Chief Financial Officer, gave her outlook for the year ahead: "With the more mainstream use and understanding of AI the importance of high-quality open data will only increase, along with this goes the need for ever more digital and data skills training so our teams can use these technologies with a greater understanding of the impact. The ethical and privacy considerations of using Gen-AI need to be better understood as we embed these technologies in our service delivery."
Gen AI adoption will surge
Cristina Caballe, Global Government Leader at IBM Consulting, said Generative AI will play a growing role in preparing governments for future shocks over the next twelve months. “As government leaders turn their attention to planning for 2024 and beyond, they are closely following generative AI’s development and how the technology is transforming the workplace as we know it,” she said.
“During the next 12 months, 38 percent of government leaders anticipate generative AI will moderately or significantly impact workplace capabilities, according to the IBV Future Shocks 2023 Survey. Looking ahead five years,the percentage climbs to 93 percent.”
New relationships for government
Celio Oliveira, Lead Data Scientist at Health Canada, said he is most excited to see a continuation of the shift away from a centralised model to a more collaborative one in government. “The traditional departmental silos we have worked in across the Government of Canada, which limit opportunities to profit and contribute to public sector innovation, are sliding away in favour of more collaborative partnerships – especially in the data science space around data literacy programmes and AI models, for example.”
Another trend is the increasingly blurred line between public and private data to drive better public services, Oliveira said. There is a recent success case between Statistics Canada and Rentals.ca (Rentals.ca Apartments, Condos and Houses for Rent Across Canada) to track rental market trends, which has allowed government to see where it can improve the housing market.
Key public services will be delivered digitally
Jessica Booth, Director, Data Analytics, Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare at KPMG in the UK, said: "We’ll see more joining up of data in public sector through modern data platforms, for example in the NHS."
She added that, "UK citizens will begin to see more of their key public services delivered digitally; they will become more empowered with access to their own personal digital records."
AI to be top of the agenda
“AI will continue to be top of the agenda," Russell Goodenough, Vice President for AI, UK & Australia at CGI. Following the UK's more relaxed approach to legislation laid out in HMG's AI Regulation Whitepaper earlier this year, the UK can take a leadership role and become a test bed to experiment and innovate with AI, he said. "We are already seeing government departments exploring their future AI journey, to give civil servants the tools to do their job in the most effective and efficient way whilst continuing at the same time to improve services for citizens and businesses alike.
"Make no mistake, like all transformations, government will have to start with identifying the major business needs, and CGI's approach to Enterprise Design combined with its ability to do 'complex things well' will help departments ensure that the chosen technologies enable them to achieve their desired outcomes.”
Amit Gupta-Chaudhary, Chief Technology Officer for Government at KPMG in the UK, agreed that AI will become the dominant theme, moving from demonstrating proof of value into outcomes that impact the public.
He said key trends to watch in this space include: using AI to streamline IT and pay down legacy debt; discussions on transparency and AI ethics; an increased skills gap as the public and private sector compete for talent."