The future of digital: A deep-dive into party manifestos – Labour and Liberal

With the May elections looming, predictions are in full swing as to how technology and digital transformation would develop under each political party. In a previous post we looked at the work the Conservative Party has done and their intentions for the future, but what do the other parties have in store?

Digitisation under the Labour Party

Labour has shown an increasing interest in digital issues in recent months. For example, in November, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Chi Onwurah published details of her party’s Digital Government Review.

Like the conservatives, Labour would broadly-speaking continue much of the current agenda, including work with the Government Digital Services (GDS) to digitise public services, making smarter use of data and reforming procurement. Labour also favours the use of common architectures based on open standards, opening up APIs and developing more agile and innovative solutions.

However, there are some noteworthy changes. Most importantly, Labour wants to focus on trust, transparency and security, particularly in relation to the use of citizen data. The party intends to publish a review of data sharing and privacy within 90 days of entering office, providing citizens with more information and control over their data. Citizens’ ownership of their own data will be more explicit and new limits will restrict the government’s ability to pass data on to third parties for commercial gain without their consent.

Labour wishes to emphasise digital inclusion and skills, for citizens and within the public sector. From a citizen perspective, digital services would be designed to be accessible by all members of society, including the most excluded and disadvantaged. Investment would be made in boosting citizens’ digital skills to ensure everyone is able to use digital services. To focus on the most difficult social problems rather than cost reduction, Labour wants to apply a ‘social benefits test’ to new digital services.

This would apply equally to local and central government, and Labour would do more to encourage local authorities to collaborate and develop shared services. For the public sector, leadership and skills are to be a higher priority, and government transformation a Cabinet level priority. Finally, Labour aims to provide more training to improve digital skills throughout the civil service.

The Liberal Democrats’ test the tech waters

Of the three main parties, the Liberal Democrats have said the least about applying technology to transform the public sector. A handful of figures, notably Julian Huppert and Lord Wallace of Saltaire, are getting more engaged in the digital revolution and have recently helped their party to launch an Entrepreneurs Network to engage with the tech sector and help influence the development of Liberal Democrat policy. Like Labour, the party’s starting point is to place greater emphasis on digital inclusion and the protection of individual rights in areas like data sharing, rather than simply aiming for cost savings.

Having looked at all three parties’ policies it’s clear there is a considerable amount of consensus over the digital agenda. This is hardly surprising given that all three parties are committed to delivering significant spending cuts in the next Parliament, £24.9bn by the Conservatives, £5.2bn by Labour and £7.9bn by the Lib Dems. Regardless of the make-up of the next government, it will need to think digital, build on the progress achieved to date and accelerate the pace of transformation to delivery services more efficiently to meet citizens’ rising expectations.

How close are you to deploying a hybrid cloud? Join the #HybridCloudChat

Ready, motivated, undecided – how close are you to deploying a hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud has been one of the industry’s biggest buzzwords for a few years now, and uptake is on the rise. However confusion around exactly what true hybrid cloud is and how it can be deployed remains. Recently EMC’s Vice President Global Services, Dinko Eror, debunked the top five hybrid cloud myths, and next week he is taking to Twitter to answer all your burning hybrid cloud questions.

So, where are you on your journey to the cloud? What is holding you back and what challenges do you face? Join Dinko and other EMC and industry experts in the #hybridcloudchat to discuss everything that is (and isn’t!) hybrid cloud on the 25th of March at 12:00 PM GMT.  We’ll cover common challenges and how to overcome them, and a professional illustrator will join us to bring your comments and questions to life, in real time!

Share any questions with us beforehand @emcuki , and don’t forget to join the #hybridcloudchat on March 25th!

Hybrid Cloud Chat Invite - FINAL_portrait

The future of digital: A deep-dive into party manifestos – the Conservatives

You’ve probably heard – you may even have begun to tire of the wall to wall coverage – but on Thursday 7th May, Britain will go to the polls to vote for the next government.

Thanks to the rise of UKIP, the SNP and the Greens, and the vagaries of the first-past-the-post voting system, the result is almost impossible to predict. The potential outcomes range from majority governments for either the Conservatives or Labour (albeit unlikely, based on current polling), to various flavours of coalition or minority government, depending on the final tally of seats for each party.

This sounds like a recipe for policy paralysis. However, when it comes to technology and digital transformation of the public sector, there is good reason to think that the work begun by the present government will largely continue.

The Conservative Government – a Digital Pledge

The Conservative-led coalition entered office pledging to be the most digital government ever. Under the leadership of Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office has driven Whitehall savings of more than £14.5 billion since 2010. Renegotiating contracts with large IT suppliers and adopting open source and cloud-based solutions have made a major contribution to this.

Another key reform has been the Government Digital Service (GDS), which has revolutionised the way government delivers citizen services. By bringing in outside talent, and focusing on user needs and good design principles, GDS has been able to transform a wide range of services people use every day. Citizens can now register to vote, renew a patent, apply for carer’s allowance, and even book a prison visit, using online processes as straightforward as anything produced by the likes of Google or Amazon.

Continuing the Digital Revolution

At the Autumn Statement in December, the Government shared the first details of its plans to continue the digital revolution after the election. The use of cloud-based services and digitisation will increase, but instead of simply putting services online, the goal is to increase digital uptake of services to 90% by 2020 by developing new cross-government platforms to deliver payments, track applications (e.g. for a driving license or passport), and book appointments. To encourage private sector innovation, all new digital services will be available via an open Application Programming Interface (API) as well as a web browser, and more data sets will be opened up. Many of these ideas were first proposed by Policy Exchange’s Tech Manifesto for government, which EMC supported.

If the Conservatives intend to go further and faster on government transformation, what of the other two main parties? Watch out for our next blog post, which will look at Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and what they have in store for tech.

EMC breaks fundraising record for Prince’s Trust

As a longstanding supporter of the Prince’s Trust and proud Platinum Patrons, over the year’s EMC employees have dedicated their time and resources to raising money for a meaningful charity which offers young people in difficult circumstances practical and financial support in order to stabilise their lives.

Over the past year, EMC’s Team Transformers have been taking part in Million Makers, an entrepreneurial fundraising competition where teams from leading UK companies across the country compete to raise the most money, whilst improving their business skills.

Last week, EMC’s Team Transformers attended an awards ceremony where they were crowned the regional Million Makers fundraising champions, after raising over £160K for the cause. Samantha Cooper, EMC’s Senior Systems Engineer also won the Outstanding Individual award for her fundraising achievements.

This follows a successful Prince’s Trust and EMC Leadership Dinner last month, attended by HRH The Prince of Wales and Baroness Joanna Shields OBE – Advisor on the Digital Economy, Chairman of Tech City UK, which raised over £400,000 for the Trust.

If you would like to donate to this charitable cause or see how you can offer your support please visit the website here.