Public Services > Blue Light

PSN predictions for 2014

Published 02 January 2014

In a guest article, PSNGB marketing director Neil Mellor offers 10 predictions for PSN from BYOD, big data and its alignment with 'digital'

 

1. Business as usual

The transition journey from legacy GSi/GCSX connections, started in 2013, will complete in the first half of 2014, bringing the great majority of Central and Local Government onto PSN. The shift from PNN to PSN will also be underway, as the Police and Justice community join the network.

With the foundation layer of shared PSN connectivity at IL2 and IL3 laid, we'll have a common, trusted platform over which a whole spectrum of services can be provided and consumed. Connecting to PSN will have become business as usual for many and the focus will increasingly shift to exploiting the services on it to reform public service delivery and efficiency.

2. Constructive compliance

It's fair to say that PSN Compliance for customers has proved more of a challenge than expected in 2013. Whilst it's accepted that an entry ticket of good practice in information assurance is essential to join the party in a critical shared environment like PSN, there needs to be a better understood balance between the carrot of expected benefit and the stick of potential disconnection.

A more conciliatory and pragmatic tone will recognise the differences in risk and working practices between organisations in 2014, along with more practical help to achieve compliance and greater clarity on the stages and options.

3. Smarter working and BYOD are compelling

Emerging clearly from PSNGB's research with senior public leaders in 2013 was the conclusion that immediate cost cutting options had been exhausted and that things needed to be done differently, not just better, to yield sustainable savings and improve services. Smarter ways of working are a vital part of this and there's a pressing need to continue to improve productivity, mobility and agility within and between organisations.

If it wasn't already, the ability to work independent of location and device will fast becoming expected as well as operationally necessary this year, especially for those delivering front line services. The tide can't be held back; so policies, management culture and technology need to support rather than resist the change.

BYOD is just one element. Personal devices have an important role in the flexible workstyle mix, but not for accessing sensitive or personal data, given the risk of loss or compromise. Critical bits of the mobility jigsaw to develop in 2014 are identity federation, authentication, building and network sharing and the ability to exploit a spectrum of connections from cellular to wifi to fixed, with the appropriate level of security and performance. Appropriate is the key word; keeping complexity and cost in proportion to risk and enabling rather than impeding agility and effective working. PSNGB's new Mobility Forum will be working hard to move things forward in these areas.

4. Big data starts a step change

By joining together networks, PSN improves access to vast resources of data across organisational boundaries. So far so good, but that's only really of value if you can extract useful nuggets of information from the passing and mutable torrent of data, get it to the right people at the right time and do things better as a result. This is probably the greatest ICT challenge facing organisations in public and private sectors.

Why does it matter? Being able to distil relevant, quantitative information from the vast data on anything from traffic volumes, citizen preferences or service usage patterns to health trends can provide a base for much better evidence based policy and decision making, fraud detection, crime prevention or proactive care intervention.

We'll see early evidence of step changes in some of these areas on the back of deployment of automation and analytics, coupled with information networking to push actionable insights out to those who need and can use these to deliver better services, cut cost, avoid provision gaps and improve outcomes as a result. Technology will help, but process change, privacy considerations, protection of data and appropriate governance need to evolve too.

5. PSN and Digital align

These ascending stars of Government ICT have evolved on separate trajectories, but the horoscope for 2014 shows the aligning more closely in the firmament. Now that both are established with proven benefits, 2014 is the right time to be consolidating and demonstrating the complementary fit between digital service delivery and PSN as the trusted platform for services from citizen interface to key business processes.

It's been said before that 'digital people' are a different breed to 'infrastructure people' and that there's a cultural and practical distinction, not just in the public sector, but more generally - one camp experimental, user focused, agile, perpetual beta types and the other more standards oriented, conservative and security focused. We've all been to conferences where the distinction is visible. They're stereotypes, but T-shirt or tie, they're actually complementary and both are vital to making progress in reforming services; so here's to more collaboration this year.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude recently stated that the UK has gone from being poor at all things digital to becoming a world leader. PSN is also a world first that's being watched overseas and learned from. Let's bring these great exemplars closer together in 2014.

6. Liftoff for Frameworks

The PSN Frameworks will have been in place for two years by mid 2014, and though they've been extended to cover the big procurements now in train, it'll be time to replace them early in the year. Around £300m of business will have been transacted through the PSN Frameworks by the end of 2013; less than was originally expected, but still a very significant channel and catalyst for savings. We can expect to see new replacement frameworks to cover secure email, a wide range of telecoms connectivity and services and also contact centres by the end of 2014.

More PSN certified services will also start to appear through the fast growing G-Cloud framework and the fit between this and the new frameworks will become clearer. That's good news for customers and good news for suppliers, particularly SMEs who will have a wider range of more addressable channels to market available.

The new Crown Commercial Services (CCS) organisation will be established and will listening hard to the needs of users and suppliers to ensure that we create an open marketplace with terms that enable both to do good business and to enable savings. Those savings will need increasingly to focus not just on the cost of ICT services, but the much broader sustainable value they bring in improving the quality and efficiency of public service delivery.

7. A richer, broader PSN

As the priority for the PSN programme shifts, with transition completing, from connecting users to delivering sustainable cost savings above the network layer, so the landscape of PSN services will become richer and broader. This will be both a 'carrot' for customers to exploit PSN and an important incentive for suppliers large and small to invest and deliver the compliant services needed. It will also be assisted by the new procurement frameworks already mentioned, providing an accessible route for innovative PSN services to be bought and sold.

So what will we see being offered across PSN? Here's a few ideas for starters; shared 'cloud' services that support key business processes, collaboration tools that help join up justice or health and social care, services that make it easier to have a single network into and around a shared building and those that allow diverse organisations to use common resources, whether they're applications, data centres or emergency control rooms.

With the PSN platform in place, 2014 is a time for demonstrating solutions to critical public service challenges through innovation, trial, showcasing concepts and rapid scaling of those that work. PSNGB is working closely with the PSN team in Cabinet Office to make this happen.

8. Nose to tail reform

It's time for the Fergus Henderson approach to digital reform, served on a platter of PSN. Back in the early days of the internet, progress was standing up a website with a picture of the Chairman. Those days are long gone. In industry, digital delivery and efficiency start with the customer and stretch end-to-end through the organisation and its supplier and partner ecosystem, interconnecting the whole so that even before you pluck the beer and burgers from the shelf, the factory knows that barbeque weather is approaching and has geared up the supply.

Maybe that's not a great example given the archetypal British summer, but the principle applies just as well to public service delivery.

The digital service delivery continuum needs to start with the front office, citizen experience and engagement using integrated contact management that spans channels from social media to web, mobile, phone and assisted digital, driving down transactional cost and improving user satisfaction. Getting service delivery right first time and fulfilling enquiries or transactions fast and efficiently means integrating this front end into critical business processes and systems, from benefits to care records to HR, payroll and finance.

It also means that people within the organisation and partners across sectors need to be able to collaborate effectively, sharing relevant information in a way that's agile and appropriately secure.
PSN will provide the conduit for this as it gets established within and across organisations in 2014.

Technology is only part of the answer, culture and process change are also critical, but more standardisation and availability of business process and shared services, plus developments in automation and analytics will bring end-to-end delivery reform and substantial savings closer.

From the supplier perspective all of this means both new opportunities for innovative companies with PSN compliant 'as a service' offerings and an increasingly tough time for more traditional solutions. It'll also be interesting to see whether pay per use or subscription prevails as the model for consumption, or whether we see a move towards a more outcome based commercial model. Success will be measured by the both sustainability for suppliers and the value delivered to customers. And we can hope for a BBQ summer too.

9. Top CIOs crack the 'wicked issues'

It's a subject that crops up every year, but the point at which CIOs can look beyond cuts and immediate cashable savings in ICT spending to what they can do to reduce the cost and improve the quality of public service delivery becomes more attainable in 2014. The transformational potential of the PSN-enabled services I've mentioned will help public technology leaders to play a more central 'boardroom' role and can deliver sustainable change and reform well beyond the ICT budget envelope.

One of the keys to this lies in the business case for initial PSN consolidation and resource sharing, and the capacity to carve out sufficient early saving to reinvest in ICT-enabled change. This could help unlock some of the persistent dilemmas around, for example, local growth, regeneration and joined up service delivery. Expect to see some interesting projects start to deliver in 2014.

10. Suppliers take the plunge

Savvy suppliers in 2014 will see the commercial opportunities afforded by the G-Cloud, PSN and successor frameworks as not just a toe in the water but a must do. Some are already making the most of this to deliver what customers want in the way they want it, others will move to broaden their available portfolios and make sure that their accreditation and compliance are in place to meet demand.

There are some questions remaining around the precise implications of the new Government Security Classification from April 2014, the shape and terms of new framework procurements, the extent to which they'll be adopted and the commercial merits of each, but the year will highlight who's ready to compete in the new government ICT marketplace. If we see real demand continue to increase through these channels, then innovative suppliers of all sizes will be encouraged to invest in the services needed for public sector reform.

 

Related articles:

PSN: a trade off between information risk and effective public value

Local authority group mooted to help bridge PSN security divide

 

 







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