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Socitm highlights low code, no code potential for public sector


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Increasing the use of low code and no code digital systems is likely to be one of main trends of public sector IT over the coming year, according to Socitm.

The public sector IT association has published a new report that points to the issue as one of a number of developments for 2019, along with emerging technologies such as augmented reality and the internet of things, and more established priorities such as cyber resilience and a move to cloud.

Authored by Jos Creese, it identifies the increasing interest in digital platforms that make it possible to build services primarily by configuration of the components, rather than requiring extensive coding. While these require some technical know-how and service experience, they can be used to reduce IT overheads and develop systems more quickly, and provide the potential for integration with AI solutions.

But the forecast includes a note of caution, saying this is a fundamentally new approach that will take time and is not a low cost option. Instead the business case should be focused on automation and agile service development.

Councils' plans

It reflects a move within a few councils over the past couple of years to deploy platforms that can be used for the development of services without recourse to extensive, complex coding. Adur and Worthing Councils have been developing a system with Matssoft, Devon has signed up to use the OutSytems platform, and Folkestone & Hythe has identified it as part of its digital transformation programme.

The report highlights eight other trends:

  • A sustained emphasis on cyber relisience.

  • More data mash-ups and information analytics.

  • Increasing the use of virtual and augmented reality. The former can offer a powerful tool for design, while the latter can provide avatars for dealing with customers.

  • More IT partnerships and local sharing.

  • A move for IT strategies to evolve and provide scope to respond better to technology trends.

  • The adoption of cloud and new IT supply models.

  • Increased use of the internet of things. It can be used for building and asset monitoring, and built into systems such as customer service points and employee activities.

  • Further deployment of robotic process automation, and developing the potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Socitm says that in adopting many technologies, digital and IT leaders will need to build open, standards based architectures for the future, and that it expects to see an increased focus on the use of data standards, ethics, sharing and analytics.

It also attempts to dampen down speculation over the potential for a handful of emerging technologies – blockchain, autonomous vehicles, drones and quantum computing – saying adoption will be slower than many expect and they will not be a big feature in plans for most public sector organisations over the next year.

Control hype

The report includes a word of caution that IT leaders need to “control IT hype” in taking advantage of new technology, and need to make their own judgements about where and how the trends should apply to their IT planning.

Martin Ferguson, director of policy and research at Socitm, commented: “Councils need to look ahead to embrace the new digital opportunities for automation, resilience, innovation and, most importantly, improved outcomes for people in the places that they serve.”

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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