The announcement of the new Cloud Services Framework from the Scottish Government brings renewed focus to their Digital Strategy. A strategy which outlines a bold vision for Scotland as “as a vibrant, inclusive, open and outward looking digital nation” and which, in the words of Derek Mackay as the Cabinet Secretary responsible for Digital, “accepts that no single organisation can hope to have the answers [to the questions this vision raises] and therefore looks to create a culture and environment of partnership in which we take collective action to ensure that nobody is left behind and we all remain safe, secure and confident about the future.”
There is a lot to love about this direction of travel – here are five things that I related to in the Scottish Government’s digital strategy:
1. “Realising Scotland’s full potential in a digital world”
Digital is about more than technology. I love that the strategy is centred around outcomes – not what technology is, but about what technology can enable. That might sound odd coming from a technology business like UKCloud, but it aligns perfectly with our motivation for creating our business. We believe that there has historically been too much emphasis on IT, and not enough on user needs – whether that user is a citizen, business, student, patient – or someone who works within the public sector such as a nurse, councillor or teacher. Technologies like cloud, mobile, IoT and AI play a major part in enhancing the user experience, improving the outcomes that the user wants to achieve. And that’s why we do what we do. We focus on the platform and the infrastructure so that our customers and partners can focus on what really matters – harnessing the technology to improve the services they provide.
2. “Create the conditions in which our digital technologies industries can thrive, working with industry to meet a shared objective to employ 150,000 in digital technology roles over the next 5 years”
UKCloud has always been committed to creating ‘social value’ link via the UK GovTech community. We’ve created hundreds of high-calibre jobs (including apprenticeships and student placements) as well as ongoing development of local skills in cyber, cloud and digital. And we’re expert at helping our ecosystem of more than 300 partners, many of which are small British businesses such as software developers and service providers, to grow and develop new capabilities in our communities right here across the UK. Hence, the themes of diversity, innovation and partnership are very well aligned to the philosophy of UKCloud.
3. “Secure and resilient to cyber threat and risk”
The digital strategy recognises that for Scotland to be successful, its government and its businesses need to be secure and resilient to cyber threat and risk. In our experience, many public sector systems we’ve helped modernise were designed to operate in a very different environment – one in which systems are hosted in secure datacentres, accessed via secure community networks (like SWAN) from locked down devices by internal users. But digitalisation requires things to be much more open and interconnected – users are as likely to be external as internal, therefore connecting over the internet to a system hosted on the cloud. And this brings forth cyber risks and threats that organisations have been isolated from. So, it’s great to see this recognition so prominent. UKCloud has developed a range of capabilities which will help organisations understand their cyber health and adopt new approaches to enhance their cyber security operations in a world where systems will span on-premises environments and cloud environments including IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.
4. “Shared technology platforms as a core part of the process of public service reform”
Multi-cloud, crown campus, SWAN – GDS programmes like gov.uk and Verify, etc.
UKCloud has invested almost a decade of effort and £10m+ to create a shared cloud platform that is hosted exclusively in government-grade UK facilities that are extensively used to enable public services across the UK. We offer plenty of connectivity options from DDoS protected internet, through private connections to connectivity via SWAN (Scottish Wide Area Network), PSN, Janet and others. Hence, the Scottish Government’s commitment to shared technology platforms rather than silos of duplicate infrastructure is very welcome. What’s more, we’ve been privileged to support GDS programmes such as gov.uk and Verify – and we expect that Scotland will continue to develop equivalent capabilities to support their vision for a digital future.
5. “Our startup community is already developing a great reputation, with particular strengths in financial technology, data and digital health care”
It’s great that the startup community in Scotland is developing at pace. It’s interesting that Scotland is developing a specialism in similar areas that UKCloud is expanding into. We’ve long been exclusively focused on UK public sector and we are now expanding into regulated industries, like Finance and Insurance, which face similar challenges and constraints as public sector organisations. And our fastest growing business unit has been UKCloud Health where we have supported similar digital health initiatives as those referenced in the Digital Strategy such as Patientrack. Hence, we’re excited about the opportunity to further support health and social care organisations across Scotland deliver better patient outcomes through the use of great technology. In both our core UKCloud business, and our healthcare focused community, we’ve become expert at helping specialist solution providers, many of which are start-ups and SMEs, transform their businesses by using new ways of working to deliver more value and innovation to their customers.
The Scottish Government’s Cloud Services Framework enables UKCloud to help organisations across Scotland to embrace this digital strategy. We have a UK sovereign cloud platform that is proven across hundreds of digital programmes across the UK public sector and can potentially be accessed via SWAN. We have local experts that can help you cultivate a digital culture, not merely building new cloud native applications – but also helping your modernise your existing investments in IT systems, processes and skills. And we’ve nurtured a growing ecosystem of specialist partners, many of which are UK SMEs, to give you access to the capabilities and innovative ideas that will help you make your transformation happen – cheaper, faster and safer.
More information about UKCloud and the work we’re doing with the Scottish Government is available here.