THINK Digital Government 2017

The flagship THINK event, now running biannually. A must for all those involved in implementing the government’s digital agenda.

Date: Friday 15 September 2017
Venue: Business Design Centre, Islington

The flagship THINK event, now running biannually. A must for all those involved in implementing the government’s digital agenda.

Supported by

Diamond Partners


09:25 - 09:55


10:00 - 10:05

Chair's Welcoming Remarks

  • Stuart Lauchlan, Editor and Co-founder,
10:05 - 10:30

Analyst Overview

The recent National Audit Office report assessing the progress of digital transformation in government said that whilst GDS has successfully reshaped the government’s approach to technology, it has also found it difficult to redefine its role as it has grown. The challenge of full-scale transformation looms for many departments. Equally, there is no point in burying your head in the sand over the practicalities of the UK’s exit from the EU. Like it or not, there is work to be done and digital could play a big role, if the government is smart.

  • What does this all mean for GDS and the role of digital in the public sector?
  • What direction are we headed in and what pitfalls should be avoided?
  • How can digital make a positive impact as we exit from the EU?
  • Gary Barnett, head of End User Advisory, GlobalData Technology
10:30 - 10:50

Government's Challenge to Transform

Like every Digital, Data and Technology led organisation GDS’s role has evolved. GDS’s cross-government focus is as important as it ever was, if not more so in light of Government’s collective challenge to transform services and respond to the requirements of EU Exit. In this talk Holly Ellis will explain GDS’s role in the Government’s functional structure and how this particularly applies to building the workforce and developing the skills needed to deliver change across government.

  • Holly Ellis, Digital, Data and Technology Profession, Director of Capability, Government Digital Service
10:50 - 11:05

Digital Dialogue

Information is replacing technology as the most critical business asset. Data – and the decisions that it allows businesses to make – is fundamentally changing the way in which organisations work. It now literally drives them forward, making them into truly digital businesses. The public sector is no exception. Leaders in the public sector must make the data around and within their business ecosystem the centre of new planning, funding and revenue models; and ultimately use it to better serve the taxpayer. Oracle’s Stuart Provan will discuss how public sector organisations are using data to transform their operations, and also share some case studies examples of best practice.

  • Stuart Provan, Head of Public Sector, Oracle
11:05 - 11:25

Department Lead: What are we doing?

A government department talking about their digital strategy, their shift away from legacy, working with GDS, building internal capability and making better use of data.

  • What impact is the result of the EU referendum going to have?
  • Is there going to be a lot of disruption, or are there opportunities to build new systems that could benefit Britain as a digital state?
  • John Seglias, Group Chief Technology Officer, Defra
11:25 - 11:55


11:55 - 12:10

Digital Dialogue: Moving away from legacy

Digital transformation is en vogue but what is the reality? Where is the evidence of real transformation and where is the vision and central policy directive for this?

  • Simon Hansford, CEO, UKCloud
12:10 - 12:40

Panel: Skills, Skills, Skills - Where do we find them?

Building a digital capability within Whitehall and attracting talent has always been a challenge. The GDS ‘brand’ has helped this to a certain extent in recent years, but it can’t be denied that there is a demand and supply problem for digital roles across the UK – and digital workers often have the luxury of picking what projects/companies they want to work on. So how can Whitehall make working for the civil service appealing? It’s been predicted that thousands more digital skills are needed. With questions looming over immigration policies once Britain leaves the European Union, this could become even more challenging if talent from other countries is blocked off. What is the worst case scenario and what can departments/organisations do to get the right talent they need? What frameworks are in place?

  • Holly Ellis, Digital, Data and Technology Profession, Director of Capability, Government Digital Service
  • Kit Collingwood-Richardson, Deputy Director, Universal Credit, Dept. of Work & Pensions
  • Annette Sweeney, Head of GDS Academy, Government Digital Service
  • Madeline Bennett, Contributing Editor,
12:40 - 13:10


A selection of interactive seminar sessions providing delegates with an opportunity to explore distinct aspects of key importance to the agenda.

13:10 - 14:00


14:00 - 14:20

Denmark: Probably the best digital nation in the world

Denmark is ranked as the number 1 nation for digital public services by the EU and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation & Development (OECD). The Danish Ambassador to the UK, Lars Thuesen will talk about the initiatives that led to this position, and the similarities and differences between the Danish and UK approach to digitisation. He will also discuss the future prospects for Denmark’s digital economy.

  • Lars Thuesen, Danish Ambassador to the United Kingdom
14:20 - 14:40

Aligning Policy and Digital Under One Team Government

As competent, agile digital services become a mainstream part of government there is a growing realisation that more fundamental digital transformation requires a change in mindset and practice earlier in the policy making process. But ‘digital’ and ‘policy’ in government can at times feel like they are entirely different universes, populated by colleagues with significantly different skill sets even as these worlds are colliding. The two disciplines have not always seen eye to eye as digital has wrestled for its place at the most senior Whitehall tables, but there is a new cadre of officials coming together under the banner of One Team Government that are rewriting the way in which government works and are learning from each other’s disciplines.

  • What is policy and what is digital?
  • Why do policy and digital teams in government find it so hard to work together?
  • What do these two disciplines need to learn from each other?
  • What is the future role of these professions and what can the ‘OneTeamGovernment’ movement do to help move this agenda on?
  • Paul Maltby, Director of Data Projects, Department of Communities and Local Government
  • Derek du Preez, Editor,
14:40 - 15:15

Panel: Improving the Digital Marketplace

The benefits of the Digital Marketplace – which incorporates the G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework – have been widely publicised by GDS and the Crown Commercial Service. And those benefits shouldn’t be underestimated. The Marketplace is a truly innovative procurement vehicle that has opened up business to a broad range of suppliers that could previously not get access to government work. However, there’s always room for improvement. What can be done to open up the Digital Marketplace to an even broader selection of buyers across the public sector? It is still woefully under-used in local government. Equally, whilst G-Cloud spend has now reached £1.6 billion – as a proportion of government IT spend, this there is still a lot of scaling to be done. It’s important to consider how departments that use the Digital Marketplace have made it work to drive change and how the government can use those examples to share best practice and take it to the next level.

  • Poss Apostolou, Head of Commercial Operations, dxw
  • Daniel Thornton, Programme Director, Institute for Government
  • Derek du Preez, Editor,
15:15 - 16:00