We can use the analogy of DNA to describe how the Department’s IT infrastructure sets the blueprint for future IT services. It’s core to our ability to provide better services to our customers and colleagues. We can also draw parallels with the way DNA in living organisms has evolved to changing environments, with how modern IT infrastructures also need to evolve in small steps. I want to use this analogy to describe the fundamental challenges we now face with our infrastructural DNA.
The evolution of technology has fundamentally changed society’s economic and social structure. We live in an ‘always on’, mobile and connected society, which expects to carry out all their interactions using technology, irrespective of location.
Today’s generation (Y and Z) is ever growing: ‘digital natives’ that have grown up addicted to technology - emotionally attached to their mobile phones. If we are to serve today’s new generation, we have to rethink how we build infrastructure. We can no longer sustain a model where we deploy new infrastructure every time a new disruptive technology service comes along.
Leading organisations have disrupted the way customers are served, by successfully harnessing digital technologies and data insight to provide compelling customer journeys. These deliver convenience and personalised interactions through tailored offerings and location relevant services. They have evolved their infrastructure to, not only provide experiences compelling for an individual customer, but to do so at scale. Customers are applying the same expectations they have of the private sector to their interactions with Government.
The Department is responding with an exciting agenda for data centre, network, software and asset consolidation - reuse and new technology - and the shift towards cloud computing to support services across multiple channels. The technology roadmap, delivered by the Department’s Technology Design Authority, builds on the Government Digital Service standards and code of practice. Mandating the reuse of proven, common application solutions and policies, these solutions must balance the need to be open, accessible and usable with the growing cyber-security threat and the need to handle sensitive information with due care.
Most infrastructures share common elements: continuing to use DNA as the analogy, infrastructures can be viewed as having some common genes and needing to evolve through an effort of continuous refresh. I compare this to the adaptive evolution of DNA, where small variations in genes over time have driven natural selection and survival of the species. What are the infrastructure characteristics of organisations that are most suited to serving their customers and, therefore, most likely to survive?
Changing to survive
We need to ensure our infrastructure is continually evolving so that it can support modern technologies, where we adopt cloud-based services like Platform as a Service/Software as a Service. A focus less about owning fixed assets and systems and more on managing data; balancing greater access to primary data whilst maintaining integrity and ensuring strong security.
Growing the gene pool
But things are changing. We are now well underway with our infrastructure DNA refresh and, in recognition of the shortage of skills and capabilities in the digital and technology sector, we are nurturing apprenticeships and graduates. This is the base from which we will grow the gene pool, create capability and deliver innovation.
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