In a world where people are making informed choices about almost every aspect of their life in a way that is convenient for them and often aided and assisted by new technology, public services need to be equally responsive to these demands.
Although collaborative technologies can be assembled as tools that help users do more for themselves, they need to be designed in a way that makes this new kind of behaviour easy. Why? Because people need to feel motivated to embrace the change that collaborative technologies facilitate, so it is important they are designed to be useful, useable and delightful.
As technology becomes increasingly social, innovation can happen anywhere people can take for granted the idea they can work with others in the pursuit of a shared outcome But public services need to do more to share knowledge and skills across this emerging space because the dissemination of innovative ideas will support the spread of knowledge and is a good way of sharing skills and expertise.
As collaborative technologies facilitate greater involvement from service users in the way public services are commissioned, designed and delivered, so service roles will also change. This inevitably raises questions about professionals and how their roles will evolve.
Collecting evidence on the impact of a digital intervention is vital to developing radical, innovative solutions to the problems facing public services today. The benefits of grounding the development of new service delivery tools in rigorous evidence should be obvious: being able to demonstrate an innovation works points to its potential longer term impact and will increase the likelihood it will be taken to scale.
The need for organisational change that creates the necessary conditions for digital innovation to happen is clear, but if services are going to evolve then working practices need to evolve too. More often than not, current systems and ways of working in the public sector inhibit rather than enable technological innovation.
Developing a digital innovation will inevitably raise a variety of issues, risks and concerns that will need to be thought through and addressed as part of the innovation process. What impact will a new approach have? Will users be safe? Will it work as well as the current service offer? How will relationships between professionals and service users be affected? Is the new approach legal? What legislation needs to be considered? How will the information that is collected be protected?
Different people see and think differently and radical ideas can come from many sources, so it is important to tap into this diversity and uncover creative, new ideas in response to the problem that has been identified. But who are the right people to bring in, how should they be involved and when is the right time to do this?
The tough social problems we have focussed on through Reboot Britain have often defied solutions for significant periods of time. When coupled with the fact innovators are experimenting with untested tools, this means development processes must be agile and able to evolve in the face of extreme uncertainty if they are to be successful.
People rightly expect to receive accessible, high quality public services that they get choice and control over, but they have an increasingly important role to play if these demands are to be met in the future. This will only happen if public services can organise people and provide services in a way that leads to outputs that are empowering, coherent and offer lasting value. But how can public services make it easier for people to meet their own and other people's needs?
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