How Experience-led Networks are Underpinning Digital Transformation in Government

Laurence Pitt, security strategy director at Juniper Networks explains why the next generation network is central to driving innovation and differentiation within government.

Posted 19 July 2021 by Christine Horton

COVID-19 fuelled the acceleration of digital transformation across every industry, but nowhere is it quite so evident as in government. Without physical access, it was crucial that citizens could still access vital services securely and seamlessly. However, this was just the starting point.

Governments and the public sector now realise that it is no longer enough just to provide a service. They must meet changing citizen needs and expectations through digital engagement and deliver an exceptional customer experience. According to IDC figures, improving citizen experience is the top business priority for 62% of European government organisations[1]. This includes using data to gain a 360-degree view of citizens’ behaviour and demand patterns to anticipate their needs and deliver a frictionless service.

Organisations also understand the importance of empowering their staff to work in a distributed environment, while delivering this elevated service to citizens. This means seamless collaboration across multiple agencies and productivity from any location – all within a highly regulated, secure environment.

Many government agencies are already creating and delivering digital services via open platforms, microservices and methodologies such as DevOps. IDC states that 59% of European governments use DevOps and/or modern agile application development approaches. 25% use artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) to combat fraud, improve revenue collection and personalise social benefit programmes, and 59% use multicloud services[2].

As evident from government-led digital transformation programmes, these progressive organisations see technology as a way to increase their efficiency, bolster business continuity and adopt data-driven policymaking.

Data-Driven Governments

Data is a strategic asset for the public sector, with the power to underpin policymaking, operational and service management decision-making with intelligence. Public sector organisations want to find ways to harness this data for effective, informed digital transformation. For example, in 2020, the UK government announced a National Data Strategy to support the use of data. The report included plans for training 500 analysts across the public sector by 2021. This target has already been exceeded, with more than 700 analysts trained and working by mid-April!

Critically, governments recognise that this approach requires the right IT infrastructure to enable innovation with efficiency and effectiveness at each step of the digital journey. This means open platforms and infrastructures built for agility, scale, security and adaptability are required.

Government agencies increasingly operate in a hybrid IT environment, so they need to ensure continuity between the cloud, the core, and the edge with data and applications reliably, securely and consistently available to users in different locations.

Networks of the Future – Today

At the core of this infrastructure sit intelligent, trusted and assured networks. This next generation network has evolved beyond ensuring business continuity to become an enabler of outcomes. It is central to driving innovation and differentiation within government.

These networks are needed to operationalise the data, ensuring it travels safely between the core to the cloud and the edge. They have to deliver that in a reliable and resilient manner without compromising on agility.

Government CIOs also need network simplicity to outpace network complexity in the future. Instead of spending precious time and resources responding manually to tickets, DevOps, SecOps and NetOps functions could instead collaborate on innovative digital public services. Therefore, networks should leverage automation and self-driving capabilities to ensure the costs and ‘heavy lifting’ associated with network maintenance are kept under control.

Intelligent, trusted, assured networks enable government organisations to:

  • Operationalise data through scalable AI/ML solutions, secure data exchange, real-time event processing and metadata-powered insights
  • Deliver reliable, resilient, agile IT services through secure, easy-to-use, energy-efficient infrastructure
  • Increase efficiency of IT asset management from devices to systems, from the edge to the cloud, through self-driving and self-driving AI-powered insights
  • Prevent accumulation of technical debt through open, interoperable solutions that ease the transition from and integration with legacy technologies

Powering Hybrid Working

Fifty-seven percent of European government executives expect to make hybrid working a permanent change, according to IDC[3]. The network will be critical for supporting a hybrid workforce model for digital government. It will enable a highly distributed workforce model to maintain the same productivity and collaboration within a limited budget.

Whether working from home, in the office or temporary workspaces, IT can leverage a single experience dashboard and dynamic packet capture to identify any issues quickly. This is simplicity outpacing complexity.

At the same time, it can ensure the safety of employees returning to the office via network-based location services that ensure that new social distance protocols are implemented and observed rigorously.

Once-in-a Generation Opportunity

Governments’ long term goal is typically to make societies and economies more sustainable and inclusive while driving prosperity. To achieve these outcomes, they must work in a trusted manner, earning and maintaining citizens’ confidence. The services they provide must be highly responsive and inclusive so that the move to digital helps close economic and societal gaps rather than widening them. At the same time, bureaucratic processes, often necessary to be process-compliant, must be seamless or even invisible for the users of these vital services.

A large focus of the EU’s €750 billion stimulus package is an investment in digital services and infrastructure across multiple verticals, including the public sector. COVID-19 recovery programmes offer European governments a once-in-a-generation opportunity to abandon their reliance on legacy technology and accelerate the transition to digital.

This transition will enable what IDC describes as “efficient, trusted, highly responsive, inclusive and convenient (ETHIC) public services”.

This ‘next normal’ in digital government must be underpinned by advanced, experience-led networks that ease the pain of migrating from legacy infrastructure, make network management simple, intuitive and efficient, deliver resilience and reliability and enable a better user experience.

[1] Source: IDC InfoBite, sponsored by Juniper Networks, The IT Network Infrastructure Revolution in Government, doc #EUR147449921, March 2021  

[2] Source: IDC InfoBite, sponsored by Juniper Networks, The IT Network Infrastructure Revolution in Government, doc #EUR147449921, March 2021 

[3] Source: IDC InfoBite, sponsored by Juniper Networks, The IT Network Infrastructure Revolution in Government, doc #EUR147449921, March 2021