Three in four public sector leaders back National Data Strategy

Research of UK public sector decision makers finds cloud growth will accelerate and investment in skills will increase

Posted 1 March 2022 by Christine Horton

New research has found that three quarters (75 percent) of public sector leaders believe the National Data Strategy is imperative to the UK’s future economic growth.

NetApp’s research of 200 public sector leaders reveals that steps are in place to achieve this aim across central and local government, health and social care, emergency services, education, and defence, by accelerating cloud adoption and digitally upskilling.

Almost three quarters (73 percent) believing it will help the UK cement its position as a global digital leader, public sector organisations are using it to guide their own data usage and sharing policies. Almost four in five (79 percent) respondents said their organisation has a policy for how it uses data aligned to the National Data Strategy.

However, building a platform to implement more ambitious data strategies and deliver digital services to communities will require additional investment – a view shared by 47 percent public sector of leaders. Supporting this position, more than half (56 percent) of respondents say their organisation’s data is stored on infrastructure that is not fit for purpose.

“Public sector organisations experienced tremendous digital acceleration in response to Covid-19, and continuing the progress made by increasing their capabilities to use and share data will be fundamental to shaping the UK’s recovery over the next 12 months,” said Tim Skinner, UKI head of public sector, NetApp.

“Modernising infrastructure, continuing cloud migration, and equipping employees with sufficient digital skills will enable this, but the National Data Strategy is an essential piece of the puzzle, providing clear direction for creating a truly digital society.”

Cloud and data strategies maturing across public sector

Investment in cloud will continue to grow in the next 12 months as public sector organisations expand their capacity for data sharing and delivering digital services. Almost nine out of 10 (87 percent) will maintain or grow their expenditure on cloud, with more than half (53 percent) pledging to increase usage in the next 12 months.

The study offers evidence that cloud and data strategies are maturing across the public sector. While 79 percent of organisations currently store data in the cloud, only 30 percent consciously adopt a cloud-first approach, indicating that when modernising their infrastructure, leaders remain pragmatic in their selection criteria to ensure their choices deliver the best performance at the lowest cost.  

As well as investing in technology, public sector organisations acknowledge the need to adapt culturally and upskill employees to deliver against the National Data Strategy’s aims.

More than two thirds (69 percent) say their organisation must change its culture to transform digitally, while 63 percent think further employee training and support from senior management is required to meet digital objectives in 2022. Moreover, there is an opportunity to digitally upskill existing public sector employees, which 65 percent of leaders believe will help their organisation overcome shortages in technical skills across the UK.

“It is encouraging to see public sector leaders adopting a ‘Cloud Appropriate’ approach to investing in IT, which is a financially prudent approach to delivering digitised public services as platform maturity continues to increase,” said Adrian Cooper, UKI CTO, public sector, NetApp. “To build on the progress already made, organisations must find partners with proven track records of empowering the public sector to lead with data, while modernising the infrastructure that enables this in a measured and cost-effective manner.”

The Think Data for Government 2022 virtual event on March 2 looks at some key opportunities and challenges for public bodies and their suppliers, hearing from a diverse range of exciting speakers about current thinking and best practices. Find out more here.