At the beginning of last year, we couldn’t have imagined what the world of work would look like in just 3 short months.
Very quickly the majority of us became homeworkers (and home-teachers!) and organisations had to quickly adapt to try and have some sense of consistency.
This year is going to be very reflective of Covid-19 and the impact that that has had on organisations.
For some public sector bodies which were already on the Cloud journey, it was a simple acceleration of what they were already doing.
The real challenge was for the organisations who hadn’t planned on a move to the Cloud so didn’t have their information available for users in a way that was accessible, regardless of where they were working.
Sometimes predictions can be thrown out the window (who could have predicted a worldwide pandemic?) but I’d like to reflect on what the year ahead might bring and what’s in store for the information we need to do our jobs.
1. Digital transformation projects – fixing what was started
Many organisations had to rush to get their data and their people to the Cloud. For many, it was a short–term fix as nobody anticipated the office being closed for quite so long. We’re now speaking to many organisations which say they moved to the Cloud, yes, but they are now wanting to finish that journey. If you speak to governance/compliance teams, you might find that they have a slightly different opinion on how well the transformation was completed! It was all about getting people online without going through the normal due diligence. Now is the time to really look at the data, get it under control, and finish the digital transformation project.
2. Data Strategy – getting it in place
Rushing to move to the Cloud was done out of necessity, rather than as part of a considered data strategy. Public sector bodies needed to have that strategy in place and those that did, were in a better position. This year, data strategies stay top of the agenda, or if they’re not top, they undoubtedly become a higher priority. Moving to the Cloud isn’t enough, it’s about your plans and considered decisions on how to use the information effectively to support your organisational goals.
3. Data-driven decisions
Once you are in the Cloud you can start to unlock and harness the benefits of being there. And what happens next is the very exciting part. Once you know what data you have, you can get real value out of it. We know only too well how important analysing data has been for the government in making decisions around Covid-19 this past year. And while that’s a very specific example, it demonstrates how data can be used to make impactful, meaningful and important determinations. This year, public sector organisations will realise they can use the data they already have for the betterment of their citizens and users.
4. Data Privacy still on the board agenda
Data privacy was already a huge concern before the pandemic. It goes without saying that there can be a level of distrust when it comes to big companies, such as social media, about what they’re doing with our data. And that same mindset can ultimately affect local and central government. In 2021, organisations need to be proactively demonstrating to their citizens that they are properly managing information. We help government organisations to understand the information held and manage the risk within that by deleting it or making sure it’s managed in a secure way. Regulators will still be expecting that, even in the midst of a pandemic, organisations considered data privacy when it came to their move to the Cloud. None of that has gone away and still sits high up on the board agenda.
5. Automation in Records Management
Finally, there’s an expectation that the technology that users are going to employ has to have some level of automation, particularly around finding information and governing information. 10 years ago we formed a company and called it Automated Intelligence because we knew that automation was always going to be important. When you have lots of information, you can’t do it manually. I don’t think you can look at any sector and not see where automation has brought advances in terms of productivity, efficiency and cost. While I do not believe it’s going to be number one or two on an organisation’s agenda this year, there’s an underlying expectation now that automation is a very key part of understanding your data and solving the challenges within that, without having to rely on users to do it.
One of the fascinating lessons of the past year has been that many organisations were scared of digital transformation, of the perceived upheaval, cost and impact, but that quickly changed, and it is now seen as business-critical. Some organisations undertook so much transformation in such a condensed timeframe that they will never accept large, high cost, slow–executing programmes going forward, and in many ways that’s a good thing.
So, that’s my 5 big predictions for this year, but if 2020 was anything to go by, the results could be something else entirely!