Delivering more value to citizens

Government departments are looking beyond efficiency improvements and cost savings to deliver citizen value and innovation. As today’s data comprises a number of formats and locations, it’s now becoming necessary to have multiple clouds built to harness all types of data and utilise AI technologies to run new classes of applications and solutions.  At the same time, government departments can use cloud computing to expose their data to new types of users and ecosystems.  This blog explores new approaches to cloud and why the desire for IaaS and PaaS is rapidly evolving into cloud-based business platforms where data is the defining factor in value and innovation.

Unlocking a wealth of data

Public sector departments recognise that they sit on a wealth of data.  Insights on this data drives better decision making that improves delivery of services to citizens, public safety, and achieves efficiency savings for departments.  However, too much data is locked away in siloed operational systems and data warehouses to fully realise these benefits.

Addressing these challenges, however, goes beyond data. Delivering wholesale improvements to citizens requires value streams that cut across today’s business domains and which harness an ecosystem of platforms.  It demands business change and a shift to a culture of continuous learning.

Teams will be multi-disciplinary, made up from those that engage with customers, business and technical specialists, data scientists, data analysts, and more.  Business and technology architecture are integrated.

Increase automation

Let’s look at data science and data analysis as an example.  Skills need to shift from the use of traditional cloud services including IaaS and PaaS to deciphering data.  Manual data preparation, use of data platforms and individual efforts are no longer enough.  Data scientists and data analysts want simple, timely access to the data they need to uncover insights that others will use to make decisions.

A data platform that provides services to ingest, govern, enrich and store data is required so that data is prepared for use.  The platform facilitates collaboration and sharing of data sets, algorithms and results, and it must be directly connected to the application of insights through the interactions with customers.  In short, it requires an end-to-end approach.

IBM’s data platform, provided on the IBM Cloud, embraces open source software such as Spark and Hadoop, serverless, graph and NoSQL.  The Data Science Experience allows data scientists familiar with Jupyter Notebook to extend it with libraries they love and benefit from working together and sharing their achievements.

Nevertheless, whilst such focus on data brings advantages, wisdom comes from expertise that is helped by artificial intelligence.  For example, there are opportunities for automation that reduce the cost of running call centres and at the same time improve the quality of the service provided to citizens.  This is achieved by analysing knowledge held in policy, procedural and other documents, and training systems to assist.

IBM has also witnessed departments simplify secure access to a citizen’s records, surfacing a more complete view of an individual’s interactions with the department and helping to combat fraud. Automation is being used to better target the deployment of a department’s finite resources, for example, to prevent crime.

Optimise workloads

Such variety creates many different types of workload.  They range from simple data look ups to complex analysis of an entire corpus of documents.  The services and data platform that I have described assume a set of underpinning capabilities that are best served by cloud infrastructure.  This is because capacity can be assigned according to the characteristics of each workload, the location of data and security needs.

IBM has multiple public cloud availability zones in the UK which are capable of running applications that can be accredited to UK OFFICIAL SENSITIVE.  Virtualised infrastructure and container services provide the flexibility necessary to exploit data whilst making cost effective use of infrastructure.  Our partnership with VMWare simplifies the re-hosting of existing applications on to the IBM Cloud without changing the operating model.  Our availability zone at Ark Data Centres allows low latency access to Crown Hosting and secure access to public sector networks.

IBM offers services which ease the implementation and operation of hybrid cloud where, for example, applications that run on premises must interact with services hosted in the IBM Cloud. These services include provisioning and deployment, API management and security.  They allow the advantages of cloud to be realised incrementally to fit with departmental spending profiles.

In addition, IBM recently announced IBM Cloud Private.  This offers services based on open source software for implementation within a department.  It can be connected to the Internet or deployed completely detached.  As well as providing services to optimize the use of infrastructure resources, IBM Cloud Private helps data scientists and data analysts gain access to data, collaborate and exploit it.  It includes the Data Science Experience, IBM’s cloud-based data science platform.

Build and exploit ecosystems

IBM has built an ecosystem to help departments get started using IBM Cloud services available on G-Cloud 9 and realise business benefit quickly.  It facilitates access to expertise in the market through partners who can help drive business transformation through automation and exploitation of data.  One example is IBM’s Bluemix Garage which allows clients to explore a business challenge in the cloud using proven techniques.  It is a simple first step to migrating workloads to the cloud.  The ecosystem offers ready-made self-learning with certifications in cognitive computing, data science, analytics, development and cloud architecture thereby facilitating access for departments to skills in the market.

Furthermore, cloud allows business ecosystems to be built as a result of exposing government data via APIs.  A department must design APIs that authentically reflect itself and promote them to key audiences to build the ecosystem.  IBM’s cloud allows departments to manage APIs just as they manage other services.  For example, a tax office can expose APIs to commercial tax software providers to facilitate the exchange of data and improve compliance.

Are you ready?

The IBM Cloud is intrinsically designed as a data platform as a service, augmented by AI, to embrace the era of exponential learning.  It facilitates opportunities for business change that deliver better quality services to citizens more efficiency through automation.

How can you harness your data to deliver better value to citizens?