4 Ways Leaders Are Driving Digital Innovation In the Public Sector

IT and innovation go hand in hand - technology fuels change and growth across the globe. As the world continues to prosper and grow, the UK has the chance to establish itself as a world digital leader. But to achieve this, innovation is essential.

digital innovation

Effective and forward-thinking leadership and innovation in the public sector is vital, but knowing where to start and how to overcome the challenges and barriers to change can be difficult.

In this article, we recognise some of the critical challenges of IT innovation in the public sector, as well as identify the key ways how leaders are driving for change using the four pillars outlined in the UK Innovation Strategy.


Challenges of Digital Innovation In the Public Sector

As is frequently the case with IT in the public sector, it isn’t as easy as simply wanting to innovate and making it happen. There are often multiple barriers in the way, which need to be identified before you can overcome them. 

Some of the barriers to innovation in the public sector include:

The COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen unprecedented disruption to daily life, societies, economies and families. But it hasn’t all been negative.

The pandemic created the opportunity to find new ways to tackle what was ahead. When faced with new and unchartered challenges, this allowed for rapid innovation to ensure the UK’s recovery. The drive for innovation will be crucial as we adapt to the ‘new normal’ and progress towards future growth.


Global Innovation Is Outpacing the UK

The UK has seen exponential growth over the last 100 years, mainly due to innovations enabled by technology. However, progress is slowing and the pace of global innovation is outpacing the UK.

South Korea, Israel and the USA are investing heavily in working collaboratively with the private sector to increase investment, innovation and success. The UK can match this and keep pace with leadership and innovation in the public sector, establishing the country as a digital world leader.


Leaving the EU

Although leaving the EU has required securing new trade deals and creating products and services that will be successful globally, there are some positives to take away from the split.

The UK can now react more autonomously and quickly to changes and challenges with innovation. Government reform proposals are set to cut Brexit red tape and give the UK the freedom to grow and innovate however they see fit.


Transformative Digital Change Is Upon Us

There’s no doubt that transformative technologies, such as AI, will change the world as we know it and how we live within it. Keeping ahead of the curve is essential to establish the UK as a digital and technological frontrunner — something necessary for growth, security and prosperity.

Organisational Restraints

A challenge many people face daily, particularly within the public sector, is organisational restraints.

Time is short. Securing budget allocation is crucial. The integration of systems for future-proofing your organisation is vital. Cutting through the noise and deciding the correct route to take can be difficult. These are all challenges that can impact you in leading the way towards IT innovation within your organisation.


Driving Digital Innovation With the UK Innovation Strategy

In July 2021, the government announced the UK Innovation Strategy — a framework that outlines how leaders are committing to driving innovation in the public and private sectors.

The strategy aims to establish the UK as a global hub for innovation by 2035 and is based on the collaboration and exchange of people, knowledge and ideas between businesses and sectors.

Outlined in the strategy are four key ways that establish the pathway towards innovation throughout the UK. These four pillars are:

  1. Unleashing Business
  2. People
  3. Institutions & Places
  4. Missions & Technologies


1. Unleashing Business

The first way leaders are driving innovation is by fuelling businesses that want to innovate. The government has announced increased public expenditure on research and development to give financial backing to sectors and businesses committed to improving the advanced digital infrastructure.

Regulation will also be reviewed to ensure the UK can fully capitalise on innovation and extract the best value to growth.


2. People

People make innovation happen, so the UK must attract the best innovative talent.

Government investment will go towards visa routes, incentivising the best global talent to come to the UK and through Help to Grow: Management. This scheme allows senior managers to boost the business’ performance.


3. Institutions and Places

The government has committed to fostering the relationship between innovative institutions in the public sector, such as the UKRI and universities. This is to better serve the needs of businesses and places across the UK that are driving innovation.

This way, the UK can work towards the shared goal of digital innovation.


4. Missions and Technologies

Finally, the fourth pillar; missions and technologies. To keep ahead of the competition, the UK must use innovation to tackle critical challenges and issues and invest in driving capability in new technologies.

This pillar will allow the UK to navigate and adapt to an ever-changing digital landscape, utilising the power of technology and innovation to succeed.


The Future of Digital Innovation In the Public Sector

As the modern world continues to change, develop and grow, the public sector within the UK must adopt fundamental government principles to ensure that the country can not only keep up with global developments but also establish itself as a world digital leader.

Having identified the challenges and changes that can impact IT innovation, the four pillars of the UK Innovation Strategy outline how to achieve this goal.

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