Deloitte has published the first edition of its Digital Disruption Index, which has been designed to help remove the hype around technology investment and to help senior executives uncover digital skills gaps. With cross-industry insights across key topics such as digital strategy, talent, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, the findings show a clear gap between the expected impact of digital and the reality of how digital is being delivered, and are as relevant to the public sector as they are to other sectors.

No one doubts the importance of digital. Within the public sector it is now pervasive in all forms of organisational transformation. However, our report highlights that few senior executives believe they have sufficient plans in place to exploit digital technologies and ways of working. According to our survey's findings, digital strategies are not coherent, investment levels are modest and the relevant skills are in short supply. Public sector bodies must focus on putting a coherent digital strategy in place that is not narrowly focused on technology, has a level of investment that reflects the organisation's digital ambition and a direct link to their talent plan.

Senior leaders overwhelmingly expect that digital technologies will change how they engage with the citizen. Conversely, fewer expect digital technologies to impact their supply chain or back office operations significantly. In our view, most public sector leaders recognise that digital must be about more than just the citizen experience, and that digital transformation should embrace opportunities to create operational efficiencies throughout the end-to-end process. The austerity agenda has been and continues to be a key driver of back-office transformation. In addition, digital offers significant opportunities for leveraging greater insights to aid decision making in both public policy and internal operations.

Our report highlights that digital skills are in short supply and high demand. Even the most digitally mature organisations face significant challenges in recruiting and retaining the skills needed to deliver their digital strategies. For public sector organisations, digital skills will sit at the heart of their ability to transform public services, and we believe that public sector leaders must create a digital brand to attract talent, while also using existing talent pools to build digital skills from within. For example, all roles – even non IT roles – should be technology fluent, and organisations should focus on how their existing employees can adapt and build new ways of working in a digital era.

Finally, the Digital Disruption Index highlights that Learning and Development curriculums do not deliver the required support and our survey respondents do not believe school leavers have the right mix of digital skills. This is a key finding for public sector bodies in particular, because in our view, digital skills are a public policy issue, which require changes to curricula to meet the current and future demands of the UK's digital economy.

Read the full Digital Disruption index here.

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