Guest blog: DWP Digital is in the middle of a huge recruitment exercise to bring in hundreds of digital specialists to help transform government digital services. Juan Villamil, director of technology services, DWP Digital, explains the importance of innovation in citizen-first, technology centred services
As a self-confessed geek, I owe my career enthusiasm in part to our inspiring history and flourishing volunteer communities.
Technology in the UK public sector has a storied history, from one of the earliest groundbreaking efforts in computer science happening at Bletchley Park to the successive generations inspired by UK led efforts like the BBC Micro and its spiritual successors, the Raspberry Pi project and micro:bit.
Public sector organisations around the world have gone through their own renaissance, sparked off by pioneers such as HealthCare.gov in the US and the UK’s Government Digital Service. Nearly every large organisation these days realises that in a digital first world, they are a ‘technology company’ regardless of what business or industry they are in.
A lot of work that dominated government IT in the past decades was defined by what to do. But my view is that it’s how technology is done that differentiates an experience.
I talk more about innovation at DWP in my LinkedIn blogpost about how the moments of true delight are the ones where the user interaction does not feel scripted, where the technology itself melts into the background for a seamless experience as opposed to one that frustrates.
DWP will always need to be an organisation that is citizen-first due to the social impact of the work we do, but we’re also embracing a presence that is technology centred at its heart. This allows us meet our purpose more efficiently for our own colleagues as well as our customers.
Move fast and fix things
Yet the scale of the work that DWP does makes me humble about what we owe to our customers. If a social network or e-commerce site ‘moves fast and breaks things’, it might result in lost revenue or lost entertainment – something that can wait.
When you operate at the scale of DWP, every technological change can impact real people’s lives. And when this can impact the most vulnerable in society there is a very real challenge for us to do that technological change even better.
Setbacks happen, but what makes ‘technology companies’ stand out is their ability to fix things fast. When code breaks, it’s this confidence to be able to fix things in a fast and agile fashion– before it impacts anyone – that will truly free up public sector organisations to innovate.
With my passion for technology, my ambition is to provide an environment where colleagues get the support they need to make our customers’ lives better, regardless of whether they have dedicated decades to public service, or just starting out in their technology career.