There have been precious few positives about the past year, but the lockdowns have forced us all to hone our technological skills and embrace digital transformation. From families using Zoom to keep in touch with loved ones, to offices migrating their systems from filing cabinets to cloud storage, we have seen a decade’s worth of progress take place in a year.
This has applied in the public sector as much as it has in the private and family setting. The UK is actually one of the leading implementers of ‘electronic government’ according to the United Nations E-Government Surveys. Over the past five years, UK government spending on technology has risen consistently – up 10 per cent over the past year alone to £1.93billion. This uptick is across all departments, with the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and NHS Digital being notable leaders.
At this point, some may argue that this money over the last year would have been better directed to the front line of fighting Covid. But the pandemic actually spurred most countries to accelerate their digital government strategies, as part of this war effort. In the UK, for example, digital specialists and data analysis resources have been key to the success of such initiatives as the NHS Home Testing Service.
One such company is Kainos Software, who have been one of the leading suppliers of digital services to the UK Government as measured by cumulative spend since 2014. Throughout the Covid crisis, Kainos has used their data collection and analysis skills to deliver multiple projects, including more accurately allocating NHS beds, oxygen and PPE to the hospitals that need them most, more rapidly reporting the condition of particular sectors of the economy to enable agile policy-making such as the furlough scheme, and more precisely forecasting the likely development of Covid in local areas through the NHS Early Warning System.
As a Belfast-founded, UK-headquartered, £1.5billion market capitalised business, Kainos is the archetypal UK SME – one of the “engine rooms of our economy”, as the Prime Minister would describe it. This company is, of course, just one example of many UK SMEs who have been able to rapidly supply digital transformation services in aid of the pandemic response. Another example is MadeTech, who took just 48 hours to develop an open-source virtual visit service to connect hospital patients with loved ones during the peak of the epidemic.