THE future is digital and the political¬†parties may have finally woken up to¬†this fact. So what can the next government¬†do to learn from the likes of¬†Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo and build¬†innovative and truly citizen-centric¬†modern public services?
The Conservative manifesto promises¬†to create a new a new presumption¬†of digital government services by default¬†and an expectation that all government¬†services will be fully accessible¬†online, with assisted digital support¬†available for all public sector websites.
It also pledges digital transformation¬†fellowships so hundreds of leaders from¬†the world of tech can come into government¬†to help deliver better services.
This is welcome news and builds on¬†the digital strategy launched earlier in¬†the year.
There were also promising signs in¬†the Labour manifesto, with a digital¬†ambassador to liaise with tech companies¬†to promote Britain as an attractive¬†place to invest.
The Lib Dems also pledged to build¬†on the success of Tech City, Tech North¬†and the Cambridge tech cluster with a¬†network across the country acting as¬†incubators for technology firms.¬†All progressive stuff, but there is so¬†much more that can be done.
As someone who has worked in, with¬†and to deliver new tech over the past¬†two decades, my top asks from the next¬†government are, set up a dedicated¬†Whitehall unit specifically charged with¬†building on the concept of the citizen¬†digital ecosystem and learning the digital¬†lessons from the private sector.
Evolve procurement models to harness¬†the best digital innovation from SMEs.¬†Continue to focus and progress the¬†industrial digitisation stream, supporting¬†the development of the industrial¬†strategy, and encourage ‚Äúdigital devolution‚ÄĚ¬†by the new mayors establishing
digital city strategy plans that address¬†transport planning and management,¬†retail, and housing development¬†through data-modelling and wellbeing¬†policies underpinned by analytics.
We are entering a citizen-centric¬†digital age that requires government to¬†have a digital vision. The challenge to¬†deliver services and innovations that¬†will enhance the lives of the many is¬†not new.¬†It is a consistent priority of government.
But the opportunity that digital¬†transformation and maturing digital¬†technologies brings provides the next¬†government with the chance to champion¬†a new digital vision for Britain.
It‚Äôs not whether you wobble, but how¬†quickly you stabilise. This is not an old¬†Chinese proverb, but a saying any¬†political strategist worth their salt¬†would recognise.
Political policies by their nature will¬†not please everyone. They are an attempt¬†to please more people than they¬†upset and demonstrate they will solve¬†problems rather than create them.¬†However, you may recall these words¬†from this column four weeks ago.
Normally,¬†election policies, manifestos¬†and even slogans are drawn up over¬†months of intense discussion¬†and deliberation. Much is¬†done to understand what¬†the public want, or rather¬†what certain segments¬†want, so a collective¬†group of policies can be¬†brought together to appeal¬†to the largest potential voting¬†base.
This is not the case¬†for this election. There¬†has not been the time¬†to fully understand¬†and compile a¬†collection of coherent¬†policies.
In this election¬†campaign so far we¬†have witnessed¬†more wobbling policies than jelly desserts¬†at a kids‚Äô birthday party.
Last week the number one issue was¬†the Conservative policy on capping¬†social care costs. It has been a challenging¬†moment for the prime minister.¬†Strong and stable has had to be¬†more listening and consultative.
Theresa May acted quickly to deflate¬†an issue that though not fatal,¬†could have caused even more political¬†harm than it did.
To be clear, there will be more¬†policy wobbles, changes in positions,¬†promises of more money¬†(from Labour it was another ¬£9.5¬†billion of free student fees) and poll¬†fluctuations than ever before.
In this election there are¬†real differences between¬†the parties and voters¬†have a choice ‚Äď
perceived populism¬†versus perceived¬†pragmatism ‚Äď you¬†have to decide¬†which is which.