Digital Devolution or Digital Evolution

I was compelled to write this blog after a conference I attended recently, where I was given the opportunity to speak.  The conference was run by Bluefin Solutions and focused on Delivering Digital Devolution in Local Authorities.  It was a great event and if you didn’t make it you really missed out!  I learnt about some really inspiring work that’s happening in different Local Governments, across the country. They are all trying to improve their services and processes not just for the customer’s benefit, but for their staff too.

However, whilst I was sat there watching demos and listening to talks I realised that no one actually defined what “Digital Devolution” meant, including myself. So after some time researching here is the definition I came up with.

“Modernising processes and services through the use of technology in order to become more efficient”

For many organisations the aim of digital devolution is to either generate savings, or increase income generation, in most cases both.

So here is my question…

Should we be talking about digital devolution, or digital evolution?

Devolution implies handing over the power of public services to one central organisation, as is stipulated by central government.  When you add technology in to the mix are we, and should we be handing over power to technology?  As I saw from the event I attended many local authorities are already taking steps to change the way they work with the use of technology.  But, from what I saw they aren’t digitally devolving, they are actually Evolving, and creating something new.  They are becoming innovative and creative in the ways that they work and taking risks to achieve something better.

We aren’t seeing a hand over to technology, we are seeing organisations actually taking control, working together and evolving with the times, as they cope with demographic and societal changes, along with further financial pressure.  They are putting technology on the front line and handing control to citizens/users/customers, allowing them to self-serve in ways they never could before.

Whilst devolution is something we may not be able to control, digital technology certainly is and we have the to power, change, improve, evolve.

Original Post: December 11, 2015
Image Credit: Chantele Smith

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