Public Sector Leaders Admit Personal Toll From Pandemic

The impact of the global Coronavirus pandemic on IT teams and senior management in the public sector has been revealed in new research from Pure Storage.

Its European-wide study questioned 511 IT leaders in central government departments, including 105 from the UK, in an effort to gain an insight into their pain points and their priorities moving forward, coupled with any lessons learned.

The study, entitled ‘Building a stress-tested public sector’, found that only 6 percent of respondents felt they were extremely prepared for the pandemic when it struck.

Stress test

And perhaps unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic has also added to the burden of public sector IT leaders, after the study found that 77 percent feel that the pandemic has taken a personal toll, with increased stress levels owing to the pressure to rapidly transform operating models.

Among other interesting findings, the Pure Storage study also found that 67 percent of IT leaders think legacy infrastructure is holding up digital transformation progress.

This unfortunately leads to increased operational costs (87 percent); reduced efficiency (84 percent); and reduced operational agility (83 percent).

The study found that 86 percent of respondents now feel they have to be creative in how they use technology so they can do more with less.

And 78 percent say that agile methodologies and design thinking are more important now than before the pandemic

And yet there is a silver lining, after the study found that the majority (83 percent) of UK public sector IT leaders are accelerating the digital transformation of their departments’ data infrastructure.

Vision needed

But challenges persist and still need to be overcome.

A third (33 percent) of public sector respondents felt the lack of digital leadership and vision is the most significant barrier to digitising citizen services.

There was also broad agreement on the longer-term changes that are likely to endure following Covid-19 in Central Government – including value for money taking on new meaning in economic and societal recovery (90 percent) and the revaluation of Government “estate” with continued widespread remote working (90 percent).

But worryingly well over half of respondents (66 percent) felt investment in infrastructure security is not keeping up with security threats.

Investment areas

Looking ahead, the public sector leaders opened up about the priority areas for tech investments over the next two years.

The most common area for investment is in security/risk management and remote access technology /mobility (both cited by 77 percent of respondents), closely followed by cloud services (74 percent).

“Public sector business and IT leaders continue to grapple with a challenge like no other, requiring them to adapt to an extreme operational stress-test this year,” said Shaun Collings, Director, Public Sector UK, Pure Storage.

“It is clear that many are constrained by the legacy infrastructure they are working with,” Collings added. “These infrastructure architectures have not evolved and were not designed for the digital age.”

“The challenges and upheaval that public sector organisations have been faced with should act as a catalyst for reviews of supporting infrastructure and consideration of what is needed for the future – one that provides improved outcomes through better use of data, and ensures organisations emerge from this crisis operationally stronger and more resilient than before,” he concluded.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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