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WSO2: How APIs and Cloud Are Enabling Public Services to Transform

Guest blog by Chris Davey, VP of Solution Architecture (integration), WSO2 as part of the Digital Transformation In the Public Sector Week. #techUKDigitalPS

The desired outcome for the public sector is to deliver a better customer and digital experience for residents. The UK Government’s 2022 Digital, Data and Technology Playbook, formalised this by identifying key digital targets for the public sector, including the removal of hard to use legacy systems and the prioritisation of a data first approach. 

Undoubtedly, public sector organisations face obstacles as they struggle to keep pace with the digital transformation initiatives needed as services continue to rapidly move online. However, building a new digital platform for rapid software development is difficult.  Part of the challenge involves the complexity of building all the underlying technology and systems for a digital platform. I say this as I have first-hand experience working in central government for 19 years, and typically projects took around 18 months from start to finish, which is not good enough by today’s standards.  Even in our experience here at WSO2, working with hundreds of customers, 60% of digital transformation budgets are dedicated to building internal platforms, and they can take upwards of three years with 100+ team members to complete.

Technologies that enable agile development and the ability to rapidly scale are key to the success of a digital transformation programme. Expensive and failed IT projects will massively hinder public services, potentially more so than their private counterparts. 

Two key technologies that are critical to accelerating digital transformation in the public sector and enable services to move online are:

A strong API layer

The success of digital initiatives has led to an increased demand for online public services as citizens compare their private apps to ones offered by public sector organisations such as local councils. As a result, demand for Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) is accelerating because they enable the digitising of services, and many public sector organisations are now taking an ‘API first’ approach to keep up with the online world around them. Essentially, APIs are the foundation of digital business, helping organisations to accelerate product go-to-market timelines, improve IT productivity, and the speed at which developers can deliver projects, and ultimately unlocking innovation.

A strong API layer allows for agile digitalisation of services, combined with the adoption of cloud technology. It enables public services to completely transform, instead of simply improving an existing service, thereby accelerating digital transformation.

Cloud-native platforms

Fundamentally, APIs bridge the gap between the modern applications required to provide services and the legacy IT commonly used to deliver public services. Utilising cloud technologies provides scalability.  Cloud-native platforms allow for agile services that respond easily to increased digital transformation.

My advice is to start small, build up capabilities, test, iterate and deliver.  But, more importantly, to take advantage of these technologies organisations need a digital platform-as-a-service to help them quickly and easily create and deliver digital services, integrations and APIs, rather than spending years developing their own internal platform. Combining all these technologies will not only accelerate digital transformation but transform the services on offer, benefitting citizens, employees and society as a whole for generations to come.

To read more from #techUKDigitalPS Week, check out our landing page here.

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