Digital transformation: exploring the people element of culture and skills – Escalla Digital

Challenges of digital transformation

What do you see as the biggest challenge to digital transformation?

Brexit? Cyber security? The digital skills gap? Possibly the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), or delivering the government’s Digital Strategy?

Unsurprisingly, all of the above were identified as key challenges to digital transformation at this year’s Digital Government Conference.

At escalla, we think that perhaps the biggest challenge to shepherding-in the government’s digital goals of their ‘smarter state’ and ‘digital by default’ will be the people element of digital transformation.

So, naturally, it was great to hear so many speakers and attendees of this year’s conference talking about people and digital skills, rather than just focusing on the tech!

To explore the issue further, we’ve taken a look at some research around the current state of digital skills within the public sector, including our own survey findings gathered at the conference.

Are people the key to digital transformation?

Absolutely! There is no doubt that the right mix of digital skills and the right culture are the key to the public sector achieving its digital goals.

HR policies around recruitment and staff development also need to be fit for purpose, ensuring that they not only meet the digital requirements of today, but are robust enough to meet those of the future.

Of course, meeting these needs isn’t going to be easy, as the National Audit Office (NAO) ‘Capability in the Civil Service’ report recently highlighted. The report estimated the government will need an additional 2,000 digital staff within the next five years, at an annual cost of between £145 and £245 million – all while implementing more austerity!

What you told us at Digital Government 2017

At the Digital Government Conference 2017, we asked people what they thought were the main barriers to digital transformation. The results had a familiar look about them:

  • Over 60% of public sector workers rated ‘organisational culture’ as their number one barrier to digital transformation.
  • The second highest barrier was ‘developing and retaining a digitally skilled workforce’, at 18%.
  • Over two thirds of public sector workers rated the digital skills of their workforce as either ‘low’ or ‘satisfactory’. Only a third rated them ‘good’.

Read escalla’s Digital Government Survey 2017 report

The Government Digital Trends Survey 2015-2017

The ‘Government Digital Trends Survey 2015 to 2017’, published this month by Sopra Steria, found that the ‘the workforce is becoming more aware of the scale of the challenges ahead and raising concerns about the need for better training and leadership’.

Interestingly, 35% of public sector workers said that, in 2017, their digital skills had improved in the last 12 months. This compares with 18% in 2016. However, 43% felt that they had not received enough digital training to do their job well.
The report also noted that ‘only 8% of public sector workers say they receive digital skills training as part of their induction process, and 29% say they have not been given any training in the digital skills required for their role’.

Read the Government Digital Trends Survey 2015-2017

Closing the digital skills gap

Almost all local authorities and central government departments are implementing digital transformation programmes to drive efficiencies via new technology. escalla can design and deliver programmes to equip teams with the right culture, skills and support to help you manage change, and unlock the next wave of digital transformation.

Watch our digital director, Lou Mooney, talk about delivering digital skills

To find out how we can help your organisation digitally transform, call us on 0800 072 9887 or email Lou Mooney at


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