Digital Transformation Archives - Digital Scotland
British Columbia best practices: Self-Sovereign ID – Building Digital Trust into the Web
Category: Best Practices,Digital Transformation Author: Neil McEvoy Date: 5 days ago Comments: 0

In this earlier blog I introduce and suggest a new technology trend of ‘Self-Sovereign Identity’ is a very powerful development, and that there’s likely an important connection with a nations ambition to achieve self-sovereignty, as you might imagine.

An especially helpful primer to this technology is offered through this webinar, which describes it from a practical, day to day value point of view, in terms of how it might be adopted by governments for functions like online drivers licence services.

John Jordon, Province of British Columbia, describing their work around Digital Identity, collaborating with the Federal and Ontario governments too. He lays out how they have been and still are today globally pioneering the role identity plays in facilitating Digital Government services.

My favourite part is the introduction, where John describes how the part of Canada he comes from is where the beavers and cows are. That’s just peak Canadian.

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Agile Cloud Migration – Modernizing for Digital Transformation
Category: Best Practices,Digital Transformation Author: Neil McEvoy Date: 2 weeks ago Comments: 0

With the Scottish Government about to embark on a Cloud First policy to migrate their estate of legacy data centres and applications to the Cloud, a critical skill set needed for the local market is ‘Agile Cloud Migration’ – Extending the scope of Agile development teams to include the migration of legacy applications.

Problem Statement

Building new Cloud services from scratch is a relatively simple proposition and is why startups can take to Cloud adoption quickly and easily.

For large enterprise organizations like government their primary challenge is their existing legacy systems, they operate huge data centres that over time have accumulated multiple eras of hardware platforms, operating systems, databases and applications, stretching as far back as the original mainframes.

There is also a long tail of thousands of Microsoft Access databases and Excel spreadsheets littered across departmental PCs, and broader still, the use of paper-based forms that must be completed by hand to execute some processes, or at best downloaded and submitted via email.

In many cases the original skills required to maintain these systems are long gone and the systems have hardened to become black boxes, the organization dare not try and adapt them lest they break and no one knows how to fix them, but they still work and so are kept in place.

For the Government sector elderly systems like COBOL are still prevalent, indeed in the USA they account for 70% of IT spend, and cost the government nearly $40 billion a year to maintain. This is why they aren’t investing as much in new innovation-enabling technologies like Cloud as they might.

In Oct 15 the UK Authority web site reported that the National Audit Office said the public sector is still struggling to master and realize the potential of digital transformation, despite the citizen and cost benefits it’s known to deliver.

They also identified legacy applications as the root cause of this lack of progress in all of these areas, reporting that over £480 billion of government revenues were reliant on them highlighting the many risks this presents, most notably resistance to the new digital innovations governments are required to adopt to achieve new online services:

“The government’s ICT strategy, published in March 2011, recognized legacy ICT as a barrier to the rapid introduction of new policies and particularly the move to ‘digital by default’.

Legacy ICT reduces the flexibility to improve public services, makes it harder to protect against evolving cyber threats and increases government’s reliance on long-term contracts with large ICT companies. It is also likely to increase the cost of operating public services by preventing higher levels of automation and hinder data sharing intended to prevent fraud and error.”

In their audit they review a sample of government department situations and their legacy application challenges – the DWP Pension Service, HMRC VAT Collection, NHS Prescription Payment Service and the OFTs Consumer Credit Licencing Service.

These scenarios feature a variety of aged technologies, some originating as far back as 1973 running on a mainframe computer. The HMRC identified in 2009 that their 600 systems were “complex, ageing and costly”, and the report highlights how expensive a burden this is: The VAT collection service costs £430 million per annum to operate, and the DWP’s Pension Payment service £385 million per annum. That’s almost a billion pounds a year just for two applications.

Platform Modernization

Simply ‘lifting and shifting‘ these apps to the Cloud, ie virtualizing and deploying them to IaaS, won’t address the bulk of this challenge. Yes it will tackle the issue of aged hardware but the code remains as is.

The critical consequence of this is that the code is therefore still as difficult to modify as before, no transformational benefits have been achieved, it is still an inhibitor to digital transformation.

Therefore the first aspect and defining goal of Agile Cloud Migration is to migrate these systems into new DevOps environments so that this becomes possible, and new innovations can be developed and deployed at the fast pace these techniques make possible.

In short it must also be combined with application modernization best practices, as CIO.com begins to touch on, achieving a full transformation of the application stack.

Legacy modernization best practices can address these issues, delivering business benefits including:

  • Untangle and map legacy application complexities – Build a basis of understanding of existing application and data architectures to establish more intelligent IT planning concepts in line with business and technical demands. Developers with no experience of the legacy software can be enabled to implement changes in line with business needs.
  • Extend the life of legacy applications without the risks of greenfield COTS projects – Numerous reports highlight how a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) approach to modernization is very high risk with expensive failure rates.
  • Align user interfaces and back-end application and data models with modern business processes – Modernization can be used to achieve IT objectives such as SOA, Cloud migration and Web-enablement of applications.
  • Leverage new technologies and tools – The overarching benefit is the transformation of software that is now resistant to change and thus innovation, as the required skills have long since retired and/or the suppliers are no longer in business. By moving it to a modern software platform new tools and techniques like ‘DevOps’ can be implemented to speed the rates of innovation.

A couple of case studies illustrate the basic principles for AWS and Azure respectively:

Netflix – Netflix is the poster child for ‘Cloud Native’ development but at one time they too operated a traditional enterprise IT approach. To achieve the massively disruptive digital services platform they now operate they underwent a holistic migration and transformation, to the AWS Cloud.

In this blog they focus on the migration of the core Netflix billing systems from their own data centre to AWS, and from Oracle to a Cassandra / MySQL combination, emphasizing in particular the scale and complexity of this database migration part of the Cloud Migration journey.

They also reference a previous blog also describing this overall AWS journey, again quickly making the most incisive point – this time describing the primary inflection point in CIO decision making that this shift represents, a move to ‘Web Scale IT‘:

That is when we realized that we had to move away from vertically scaled single points of failure, like relational databases in our datacenter, towards highly reliable, horizontally scalable, distributed systems in the cloud.

Microsoft MS Sales – Microsoft’s core Revenue Reporting system had reached the limits of both the underlying infrastructure and also the application functionality essential to agile competitiveness.

It was identified that Lift and Shift only would not address the latter challenge, and so additionally the apps were modernized for Azure PaaS to leverage a Microservices and Big Data architecture.

Monolith to Microservices

The Microsoft case study highlights the essential dimension to this transformative Cloud migration approach – Modernizing the core architecture of the enterprise software, from a monolith to a microservices model.

A microservices software architecture is the pinnacle of Cloud Native computing, and is relatively simple to understand when considering greenfield projects, but for most enterprise organizations it quickly brings them back around to the topic of legacy modernization, requiring a much more complex challenge of how to adapt their existing systems to this new approach. InfoQ offers a great series of articles on the topic. That poor old monolith, you can migrate it, transform it, decompose it, break it, smash it, or just skip it.

This presentation from Linkedin offers a detailed case study, describing their approach for exactly this scenario – From a Monolith to Microservices + REST:

This describes:

  • A legacy estate of Java, Servlets, JSP and Oracle databases.
  • A need to support fast release iterations as far back as 2010, which ran into the core challenges associated with monolith software: Test failures, rollback difficulties and complex orchestration and dependencies between services.
  • So they broke apart the codebase, adopted Continuous Delivery practices and devolved controls, implementing a decentralized code base.
  • The use of Java RPC meant a proliferation of APIs made backwards compatibility a big problem, a situation they addressed by moving to Rest.li , a REST + JSON framework, key components from the Netflix suite – Apache Zookeeper for dynamic service discovery, and DECO for URN resolution to explore data graphs.

This combination formed their particular ‘Microservices Recipe’, and when you consider the role social graphs play across the Linkedin environment, how our business contacts are inter-connected and we dynamically explore our way through them, you can see how it would be an ideal design for this type of web site.

Others offer very practical permutations. For example in this article Flickr describe how you can utilize Github to operate a ‘Microservices Store’.

“Some of the products that we work with at Yahoo have a very granular architecture with hundreds of micro-services working together. For scenarios like this, it’s convenient to store configurations for all services in a single repository. It greatly reduces the overhead of maintaining multiple repositories. We support this use case by having multiple top-level directories, each holding configurations for one service only.”

 

This is a great idea when you consider Github can provide the foundation for a complete DevOps toolchain, augmented in many ways such as adding apps to support Agile practices.

Similarly Sensedia propose a recipe for Legacy Modernization that defines how microservices can be utilized as an API enablement strategy.

Chandra Rajasekharaiah, Enterprise Solutions Architect at Macy’s, published this excellent deep dive analysis of the Monolith to Microservices transformation and the software engineering challenges it presents, and Anil Madan, VP of Engineering at Intuit also describes the same journey encompassing a broader perspective of platforms and organizations.

Agile Cloud Migration

AWS offers a wealth of insights developed from their experience of having now migrated hundreds of enterprise customers to their Cloud.

For example this presentation describes an ‘Agile Approach to Mass Migrations‘, providing a comprehensive primer on a wholesale transformation framework that is based on and can integrate with existing Agile practices, achieved through building a Cloud Centre of Excellence and referencing thought leaders such as Gene Kim’s Phoenix Project and Jez Humble’s Lean Enterprise principles.

Best practice resources

They also offer an extensive supporting library of further resources:

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Digital Government Transformation Blueprint: HM Land Registry
Category: Digital Transformation Author: Neil McEvoy Date: 2 weeks ago Comments: 0

The UK Government’s Land Registry documented their digital strategy plan here; this can form a general digital transformation template model for any government agencies, and also provides specific innovation insights for other land registry organizations.

The first simple component of the open government policy template in action is the first paragraph defining the document itself as available via an open source licence.

Brilliant at the Basics: Case Management Digitization %

It’s an ideal baseline for a maturity model building reference case study, particularly as their headline theme of ‘Brilliant at the Basics’ is ideal for characterizing of the first step on the ladder.

The Land Registry case workers process 20,000 applications per day, with 650,000 received via post annually. Via a set of ‘Customer Targets’ they specify KPIs for the response rate levels expected of them for handling these, as well as ultimately a customer satisfaction rating for doing so.

The basic building block of Digital Government is the digitization of core business workflows like these claims, and the Registry reported an 81% level of automation in 2016, with a target of achieving 95% by 2022.

Having detailed Case Management targets like the Land Registry is thus the ideal end state of a basic level of digital maturity.

Digital Innovations

Similarly they also state ‘Digital Targets’ for their performance goals in a second main area of focus of digital innovations – What might they offer in the future that they don’t currently, and how might this benefits their customers and ‘disrupt’ their sector?

Digital Targets build on the previous KPIs, such as defining a metric of ‘we will average at least 99.6% availability for external e-services during published service hours’.

It also identifies specific technological advances and the new digital services they might make possible, for example launching ‘the Digital Mortgage service to create, sign and register a mortgage for approved partners‘.

A key component of this focus is the inclusion of specific key technology trends, most notably Open Data and the Blockchain. Highlighting that:

HM Land Registry holds a rich variety of publishable data of potential interest to individuals, customers, governments, lawyers, conveyancers and financial institutions. Every plot of registered land has a unique register title with corresponding number and plan. Information stored relates to people, places, rights and restrictions.

the Land Registry describes how they publish a number of open data sets and highlights the essential dynamic, how these enable new digital services, such as MapSearch.

Other data sets include Price Paid Data and monthly Transaction Data, as well as the UK House Price Index.

Digital Street 2030

This all culminates towards their pinnacle digital initiative ‘Digital Street’, “groundbreaking research that is exploring how land registration might work in 2030”, and is also how they express their highest stretch target of pioneering a world-class capability:

We will then apply real-life scenarios to demonstrate how a fully geospatially enabled digital register might revolutionise future property transactions, including using Blockchain technology, putting HM Land Registry at the forefront of global land registration innovation.

Digital Street is a new prototype registry that will enable this new real-time, machine-readable information platform.

The goals are to harness AI and other emergent tech and apply them towards impacts like improving the conveyancing process. Here is where they see the potential for Blockchain in particular:

New technologies such as Blockchain might enable the register to be distributed among trusted parties such as lenders and conveyancers, giving them the ability to operate and update in a secure and tamper-proof manner. We will explore the benefits of this alternative approach to managing a digital land register.

Digital Business Model Canvas

Their digital plan also outlines how to build a ‘digital business model canvas’ – Before web sites and code the team should have a clear understanding of the who, what and how of the new digital services.

This is an ideal early ‘forming’ process of bringing a team together, and can be populated from landscape reviews of what other similar organizations are doing. For example comparable initiatives include the Future Cities Catapult Land Information Platform, and in Estonia E-Estonia e-land register.

A key section to review is on page 14 where they describe their approach to exploring and formulating a customer/partner segmentation framework for expressing these as ‘digital ecosystems’, such as clustering groups like FinTech, LawTech and PropTech. Jargonistic yes but actually very helpful for populating a business model canvas and planning related activities.

The primary ‘value chain’ built atop the Land Registry is naturally all related processes: Conveyancing, property building, property selling, .. etc. This implements particular workflows across those defined groups and there is no doubt there is still much opportunity for better digital services between them. Digital business model canvas planning is the ideal way to draw out these service ideas.

Identity-Enabled Digital Services

What’s immediately notable is the involvement of Identity technologies too, the two are practically inseparable.

For example this enabling role of new digital service innovations is effectively highlighted in the UK Government’s HM Land Registry digital business plan, in which they describe a future intention of:

“We will continue to enhance and expand our existing e-enabled services, such as our innovative Digital Mortgage service that uses secure identity assurance techniques to enable a customer to sign their mortgage deed digitally. Across all stages of digital service development, the needs of the user and a drive for speed and simplicity will be at the heart of our design.

  • we will launch a Developer service to provide a digital online lodgement and approval of estate plans and template leases and transfers.
  • we will launch a Digital Transfer service to create, sign and register a transfer of a registered title.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark believes these Digital Mortgages could help reduce fraud.

The role of Identity highlights services / organizations such as Gov.UK Verify. For example in this PropertySolvers article the author explores the scenario, in particular noting the HM Land Registry ambitions:

“Graham Farrant, chief executive and chief land registrar at the HMLR reported on testing the Sign Your Mortgage Deed service for remortgaging homeowners.

The mortgage deed will be produced and signed as part of a largely disintermediated digital conveyance process legitimately recorded at the Land Registry. Identity assurance will be provided by the GOV.UK Verify service.”

This is especially notable because it is a significant technological leap, to accept Identity-related authorizations from a third-party rather than directly yourself, and this concept is currently experiencing teething issues, with Verify receiving considerable negative press for adoption and user abandonment issues.

For example the Law Gazette writes specifically on this relevant to this evolution of e-conveyancing, highlighting the basic evolution to online service is essential but the choice of Verify adds an element of doubt.

Blockchain Registries

New technology innovations provide a further stimulus through introducing new capabilities that weren’t previously possible. Where Open Data makes information more accessible and programmable, the Blockchain provides a more secure transaction platform.

Given the Blockchain is fundamentally a registry system then naturally all registry-related activities are a fertile area for its application.

As Anglia Research describes it is specifically intended as a ledger system for enabling and recording asset transfers, and CoinDesk provides this detailed examination of the use case, highlighting how one aspect of natural disasters is the potential loss of all paper based versions of these records, avoidable through encoding them on the Blockchain.

A number of countries are already blazing a trail in this area, including the UK, Sweden and Georgia each trialling implementations at different stages; it’s estimated the Swedish adoption could save taxpayers €100m. Chromaway, the supplier behind the Georgian system, discuss the scenario in more technical detail through this presentation, and this paper ‘A blockchain­ based property ownership recording system‘.

In Scotland

Scotland operates their own registry organization through ‘RoS’ – Registers of Scotland.

At 400 years old the Registers of Scotland is the world’s oldest public land register, but today act as a beacon of excellence in harnessing technology modernization towards this goal, for all of Scotland’s public sector to follow.

RoS has a range of customers including solicitors, estate agents, construction companies, central government and local authorities among others, whose requirements provide the focus of their Digital Transformation program.

This includes better utlizing their data to personalize online services, like producing bespoke reports for clients such as the Royal Bank of Scotland case study, which describes how they provide weekly reports to eliminate the considerable manual workfload the bank mortgage team faced when monitoring their applications.

The registers are central to a range of industry workflows, for example the Development Plan Approval is used for new housing developments, and they have improved this process by working collaboratively with key users like house builders and solicitors, as described in video interviews with Taylor Wimpey and Gillespie MacAndrew.

They also have in place the basics of online engagement tools, such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter accounts, as well as a well stocked, nicely produced Youtube library.

Their blog provides a peek Inside RoS, and a web library in the style of Gov.uk offering literature such as new deed plans.

Open Data Mapping

Their strategies are more or less identical including the focus on open data mapping as the flagship digital initiative, the launch of ScotLIS bringing a similar capability to market as Digital Street.

Open data mapping and blockchain technologies are each alone hugely powerful technologies to exploit, and with such a natural synergy given the role of ‘trusted ledgers’ and registry organization, when combined through this scenario will prove especially

There is considerable potential for other related agencies too. For example the delightful juxtapose of such ancient documents being transposed to such modern digital facilites, like the St Giles Cathedral, also highlight how this content would be ideal for ‘digital tourism’ too – Showcasing this heritage to the broader world to attract more online attention to Scotland and ultimately visitors too.

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Cloud RPA as a Foundation for Transformational Digital Government
Category: Best Practices,Digital Transformation Author: Neil McEvoy Date: 2 weeks ago Comments: 0

The theory is there is no silver bullet in IT, but actually there are common requirements that manifest repeatedly across all types of organizations and that can be addressed that way.

CRM isn’t this approach, it’s a specific functionality for a specific business scenario. In contrast ‘RPA‘ – Robotic Process Automation, is such a general purpose solution, as the term suggests it automates any and all kinds of processes.

RPA – Robotic Process Automation

FinTech Futures explores the potential for automation financial compliance procedures for example.

The huge potential it offers can be fully realized when considered within a context of outsourcing, from Cloud through traditional, large scale BPM outsources.

Furthermore this context and these deals can be further scrutinized through a microscope of Digital Transformation – How did they enable the organization to bring new digital services and capabilities to market? For the public sector today this is Goal #1.

However these deals are notorious for expensive and poor delivery success stories (e.g. Edinburgh City) and one of the primary causes of this is a failure to achieve a more advanced, better optimized IT platform. In short they simply transfer the entire estate often including all the people, to the outsourcer, with the theory being the outsourcer will then realized multiple customer economies of scale and deliver better IT for all of them at a shared cost rate.

This logic ultimately leads you to Cloud computing, it’s the full conclusion to that principle on a global scale, but it also highlights the root challenge: Legacy IT. For example simply “lifting and shifting” your app as is to an IaaS environment won’t deliver transformational benefit either. If you don’t also modernize the app itself and the tools and methods used to enhance it (DevOps et al), then the business benefits of Cloud Migration will be minimal and all technical in nature.

The same principle applies to outsourcing. If you ‘lift and shift’ your IBM mainframe to be run entirely by IBM, then yes it’s in a safe pair of hands and off your plate, but the root problem itself has simply been moved from one place to another. Indeed what customers often find is that once the services team are behind change control procedures, technology dynamism is entirely lost, their IT has become a black box that works fine but can’t easily be altered or extended, the fundamental activity of Digital Transformation.

Hence why many senior executives often find themselves surprised, that this partnering with a tech leader doesn’t result in cool new tech advances for their business, but rather cements them in place with the legacy platform they already had, and with the added complexity of outsourcing procedures has become more cumbersome not less, and critically, fails to realize any efficiency and cost savings.

Cloud RPA – The Cloud as Smart Middleware

Actually outsourcing is somewhat of a red herring. As this UKA news highlights the same issues cause the same effect even when IT is run in-house, with this locked in nature also being the reason for not adopting new, innovative technologies. Organizations are hard coded to their data centres, whether they run them in-house or outsource them, and this resistance is the main reason why Cloud adoption on a large wholescale has yet to happen.

However the outsourcing dynamic is key, because how you adopt the Cloud is the critical factor. Thinking about Cloud only in Lift and Shift terms is the wrong perspective, because you’re only considering a scope of technology that you already have and a migration that won’t expand its’ capability in any meaningful business way.

In contrast sourcing a new technology capability is a very powerful advance, and is especially so when it is used in such a way as to augment and enhance the value of the existing IT. Think of adopting the Cloud as applying an “overlay” across your existing IT, a new surrounding layer not just a place to host what you already have.

RPA is a perfect example – An advanced technology that is best adopted As A Service and that can automate the integration between multiple existing legacy systems. This type of system integration to enable streamlined BPM is again one of those scenarios that is a major pain point for every and all IT implementations, hence the point about it being a generalized solution.

Digital Government Transformation

Vendors like Thoughtonomy offer an entirely new paradigm for solving this thorn in the foot issue – A ‘Virtual Worker’ approach.

Some organizations solve the challenge through ‘swivel chair integration’ – They simply hire staff to re-key data from one system to another, offering easy insights into how legacy IT costs balloon. Virtual Workers are simply the automation of that manual labour, what technology is ideal for and how it delivers cost efficiency benefits.

It also highlights the realities of Digital Government projects today. The ‘GDS Cult’ has somewhat positioned Agile software development as the hammer for every nail, with a consequence being they are excellent at digitizing a few big processes, but the reality of every government agency is that they are a maze of these swivel chair integrations and manual procedures.

You might be able to complete one part of a government procedure via a super whizzy web front end app, but then later to complete it in full you have to print out and post back a hard copy form. Or you have to send an email to someone who is currently on vacation, or phone a call centre who knows nothing about this first digital service, and so on.

It’s difficult to automate these types of lots of little interactions via software development, but it’s what RPA is ideal for. No need to reinvent the wheel each time, just automate it appropriately using pre-developed and proven modules for that task.

Building this capability into outsourcing/Cloud deals is therefore what designs in the ability to deliver what senior executives want from them – Cost savings resulting from efficiencies that are passed on to the customer, and improve digital capabilities. Identifying areas where they incur excessive manual bureaucracy and automating those areas, as a standard activity of the outsource, will realize both.

Conclusion

The main tools of government procurement today: In-house, outsourcing or G-Cloud, bring some but not all pieces of the jigsaw for what’s needed to truly achieve Digital Transformation in the public sector, given the scale and complexity of this manual procedure landscape.

Software dev can digitize key processes, Cloud migration and outsourcing provides the core IT infrastructure capacities, but neither addresses this long tail of manual process, meaning by definition it’s not end to end and thus not fully digitally transformed.

RPA is the category of technology that maps entirely to this category of unaddressed scope, hence it’s silver bullet nature. It’s an example of how adopting Cloud today can deliver transformational impact and in a way that fixes rather than is stymied by the issue of legacy app complexity.

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Napier University – Blockchain Cloud Identity pioneer
Category: Digital Transformation,Technology Innovation Author: Digital Scotland Date: 2 weeks ago Comments: 0

Professor Bill Buchanan is well renowned across Scotland for his visionary blockchain expertise, and he’s not alone, indeed Napier University is demonstrating how effectively they have a handle on the latest, cutting edge developments powering the tech sector.

Liam Bell is the Research Fellow leading the ‘Blockpass Identity Lab‘, a £600k collaboration with Hong Kong based Blockpass, intended to ‘explore ways in which blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers.’

Blockchain Cloud Identity

This is a massive, massive growth opportunity for Scotland. In terms of identifying the hot tech growth sectors, one of the most powerful techniques is to define the intersection between individual trends, in this case the blockchain, digital identity and the Cloud.

For example Blockstack offers this proposed definition of Blockchain Identity:

A blockchain identity (or blockchain ID) is a generic term used to refer to any identity on the blockchain. Users can have one blockchain identity or many and can register them just like one would register domain names or accounts on Facebook or Twitter.

BraveNewCoin writes about the ‘Blockchain Cloud’, exploring further integration between the blockchain and the computing infrastructure of the Internet. Cloud providers like Microsoft offer ‘BaaS’ – Blockchain as a Service.

Foundations for Digital Transformation

The best way to think about this type of technology is that it plays a keystone role for all aspects of the digital economy. It’s not a point solution to one specific scenario, for example Bitcoin leverages the blockchain to facilitate a secure digital currency, but it’s only one of a myriad of potential applications.

The critical role of Identity is easy to quantify – Government programs like Gov.UK Verify are the early steps to better join up government systems via Identity as the common mechanism, so that access to online government services is much smoother and quicker, but again that’s only one small step (on a journey towards Self-Sovereign Identity).

Shocard is an example of a vendor providing this type of technology, highlighting how it can be used for a multitude of possible scenarios, from online government through exciting new FinTech scenarios.

Microsoft also wants to leverage the blockchain to secure your identity, and VentureBeat writes about how empowering users with control over their own data is another killer blockchain scenario.

Digital Economy Infrastructure

Another key perspective is to consider the technology as a wholesale ‘upgrade’ to the Internet itself, such that these powerful features are built right into it, in the same way HTTP is the common protocol for sharing web information.

For example as Namecoin describes the DNS is the current backbone identity system, it translates domain names into IP addresses. It works very effectively but it’s really quite an old technology and thus is ideal for this type of upgrade. In this article they highlight many benefits including those for democracy:

Censorship-Resistance

With standard DNS, the digital phonebook can falsely claim “there’s no website here”; this is what SOPA would have mandated in the U.S. Dot-Bit cannot easily be censored, for the same reasons that no one can easily prevent you from spending bitcoins.

In conclusion we can also identify applications that offer great value to the practical challenges that the Scottish Government faces today.

In particular sharing information between different, isolated IT systems is still by far the main impediment to delivering integrated online services, and again is a challenge that Blockchain Identity is ideal for solving. In his Linkedin blog Blair Kjenner describes a model for a ‘Blockchain Data Exchange’ for exactly this purpose.

Another blog builds on the principle for industry scenarios such as Healthcare, so it’s clear there is a goldmine of opportunity areas that can be exploited by harnessing these exciting trends.

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Agile Digital Transformation exemplar case study – Registers of Scotland
Category: Best Practices,Digital Transformation Author: Digital Scotland Date: 4 weeks ago Comments: 0

With an headline goal of establishing Scotland as a world-class digital leader a key activity is to showcase case studies of those who are already pioneering this innovation, for others to emulate.

At 400 years old the Registers of Scotland is the world’s oldest public land register, but today act as a beacon of excellence in harnessing technology modernization towards this goal, for all of Scotland’s public sector to follow.

Digital Service Enablement

RoS has a range of customers including solicitors, estate agents, construction companies, central government and local authorities among others, whose requirements provide the focus of their Digital Transformation program.

This includes better utlizing their data to personalize online services, like producing bespoke reports for clients such as the Royal Bank of Scotland case study, which describes how they provide weekly reports to eliminate the considerable manual workfload the bank mortgage team faced when monitoring their applications.

The registers are central to a range of industry workflows, for example the Development Plan Approval is used for new housing developments, and they have improved this process by working collaboratively with key users like house builders and solicitors, as described in video interviews with Taylor Wimpey and Gillespie MacAndrew.

They also have in place the basics of online engagement tools, such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter accounts, as well as a well stocked, nicely produced Youtube library.

Building Digital Skills

Cultivating the skills required to achieve these improvements highlights the importance of other Scottish initiatives such as CodeClan.

As described in this blog, RoS undertakes a program of ‘Developing the Developers’, building skills across essential functions such as Agile Scrum masters, UX design and Business Analysis, and have sourced some of these talented individuals by recruiting CodeClan graduates.

Government as a Platform

This greater depth of technical skills enables more proactive innovation and development of new digital services, such as ScotLIS, a “one stop shop digital database for land and information services”, an online land and information system that will ultimately allow citizens, communities, professionals and business users to find out comprehensive information about any piece of land or property in Scotland with a single enquiry.

Furthermore they are also pioneering ‘Government as a Platform’, the central feature being a software API that enables third parties to build upon your systems and extend them in new, innovative ways.

RoS presents API Services, with supporting documentation, offering programmatic access to services such as the Land Register. As explained in this blog this enables their customers to embed their services directly into their own workflow systems, such as legal firms like Russell & Aitken who have leveraged the API to integrate the process into their own internal case management application to better streamline their own business operations.

Innovation Futures

What future innovations might RoS pioneer next? How might they encourage Scotland’s entrepreneur community to leverage their APIs and create new digital business models atop these data and registry workflow foundations?

This highlights the other critical dimension of their Digital Transformation strategy, the emphasis on focused innovation. As they highlight on their blog RoS has established innovation centres, to cultivate exactly this type of organizational brainstorming, through a variety of activities such as hosting guests to share their experiences.

Blockchain Registries

In terms of technological innovations of course the Blockchain is one highly likely to feature in their future at some point.

Given the Blockchain is fundamentally a registry system then naturally this is a very fertile area for its application. As Anglia Research describes it is specifically intended as a ledger system for enabling and recording asset transfers, and CoinDesk provides this detailed examination of the use case, highlighting how one aspect of natural disasters is the potential loss of all paper based versions of these records, avoidable through encoding them on the Blockchain.

A number of countries are already blazing a trail in this area, including the UK, Sweden and Georgia each trialling implementations at different stages; it’s estimated the Swedish adoption could save taxpayers €100m. Chromaway, the supplier behind the Georgian system, discuss the scenario in more technical detail through this presentation, and this paper ‘A blockchain­ based property ownership recording system‘.

Registers of Scotland recently held an ‘innovation month’ to introduce and brainstorm the potential.

 

 

 

 

Registers of Scotland

Our case study of Registers of Scotland describes them as an exemplar of Scottish public sector digital transformation, and similarly Audit Scotland hold them up as an example for their use of an Agile methodology to achieve these required high standards.

Noting that they didn’t have the right skills and experience in place they took the following actions:

  • Internal staff and contractors took part in an ongoing Agile training programme which aimed at producing a number of accredited practitioners.
  • The executive management team received introductory Agile training. This helped them understand the process and the information they needed to oversee the project.
  • RoS recruited an Agile coach to help make this approach an integral part of its organisational culture so that it can be used for future projects.

RoS is now using Agile delivery for its major Business Transformation Programme. It has established Agile delivery, supported by investment and training, as its preferred route to maintain quality, customer focus and flexibility. RoS has continued to provide Agile training to all levels of the organisation, with around 150 staff now trained in Agile and six in Agile coaching.

Innovation Centres

To achieve the critical goal of putting users needs first and foremost, Audit Scotland also highlight how RoS implemented an Innovation Centre.

“Registers of Scotland created an Innovation Centre in July 2016, providing a safe environment for users to test ideas, improve business processes, and optimise software before rolling it out into the business. A core team is supported by around 150 volunteers from all levels of the organisation, with up to 40 people working in the centre at any one time.

The centre helps get buy-in from system users before business roll-out. It helps inform the roll-out process, ensuring business readiness and supporting organisational change.”

Learn more in their video:

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Aberdeen City Council – Digital Transformation Blueprint
Category: Best Practices,Digital Transformation Author: Digital Scotland Date: 4 weeks ago Comments: 0

Aberdeen City offers an ideal example blueprint of how to approach the new dynamic mode of agile procurement that the Scottish Government’s new digital marketplace is setting out to enable.

As UKAuthority reports they are seeking a digital partner who can provide the skills required to achieve their digital transformation strategy:

  • Senior, strategic advisory support – a highly experienced support who provides periodic, strategic input into the digital portfolio as it delivers the transformation.
  • Digital consultancy support – subject matter experts who work closely with the Council, in teams, in areas such as business case development, process re-design, customer experience mapping and design, digital supply chain re-engineering, change management etc.
  • Digital technical support – digital specialists who know how to build customer technology interfaces eg. mobile applications, websites, social media campaigns, digital advertising etc.

The purpose of the engagement is described as:

A digital partnership will provide us with access to expert knowledge or skills, offer a pathway to a new customer markets (enterprising council), or lend itself to a more agile approach. Essentially, it allows us to focus on our core expertise while supplementing it with digital expertise.

The full strategy plan is detailed in this report.

Digital Transformation Blueprint

Building on their Digital Transformation Strategy Being Digital this report establishes the linkages between the digital program and the Council’s overall strategy and goals, notably the Local Outcome Plan, which seeks outcomes such as tackling poverty and inequality and accelerating small business growth.

This will build on the developing approach to regeneration priorities, the work of the Health and Social Care Partnership and the inclusive economic objectives contained within the Regional Economic Strategy.

Target Operating Model

How the digital strategy will be implemented to support these goals is articulated through a comprehensive Target Operating Model, defining the Digital Transformation Blueprint, intended to achieve a primary overall goal of delivering up to £125 million of benefits realisation (or savings) over five years (2018/19 to 2022/23).

Digital Programmes

Digital Programmes defines the combined implementation of people, organization and technologies that are aligned towards the high level goals such as Aberdeen Prospers and Children Are Our Future.

  • Digital customer and community – Primary methods of engaging with citizens and delivering online services.
  • Digital workforce – Staff working and collaboration.
  • Digital supply chain and assets – The smart city framework for IoT asset tracking.

Digital Outcomes describes the types of benefits and results that the Digital Programmes are intended to achieve.

This explores high level use cases and begins to ask the questions of how they would be fulfilled, for example:

Digital Outcome

Outcomes focused delivery models, underpinned by Digital platforms.

What this could mean

Using digital solutions to enable Services to become a ‘broker’, matching customer need with supply, rather than delivering the service itself e.g. Homecare.

Enabling collaboration around a family, using digital solutions to draw key data into a single place and allow professionals (cross-organisation) to work securely together to deliver better outcomes.

Key considerations

  • Do we encourage and reward customer driven service delivery?
  • Are we ready to implement new business/ delivery models?
  • Where will these new models deliver most value?

Capability Map

The Capability Map defines the business capabilities needed to fulfil the programmes, such as:

Customer Platform

  • Information and advice – In and outbound.
  • Transactions and self-service.
  • Assessment and eligibility.

Resource Management:

  • Staff portal, for self-service delivery
  • Second/ third response – Transaction processing, case management

Roadmap

The Roadmap charts how Aberdeen will progress from their current position to this future state, across three main phases, which encapsulate a number of key deliverables:

Phase 1 – Foundation

Establish the fundamental building blocks, such as:

  • Skills audit and delivery plan rollout.
  • Procurement of new Customer Portal and CRM.
  • Agree Assisted Digital strategy.

Phase 2 – Transition

Begin implementation of digital services, such as:

  • Implement ‘My Account’ for customers.
  • Implement process automation.

Phase 3 – Optimization

Ongoing enhancement, delivering:

  • Community engagement to deepen citizen participation.
  • Expand ‘My Account’ to wider group of stakeholders.

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