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The challenge of government digital asset management

By: Lydia Bird

Public bodies are adopting the cloud to do more with less: achieving greater efficiency with smaller budgets while opening their data to the public. Yet amid and beyond the pandemic, these organisations can lack the agility to adapt. The key is to add resilience and flexibility through secure and trusted cloud services.

The Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone’s finances. Individual incomes have fallen, business revenues are down, and limited government funding has needed to stretch even further. But while the economy shows signs of recovering from the immediate impact of a national lockdown, longer term issues remain.

In the public sector, many organisations are reeling from the effects of disruption to their daily operations. Nearly six months after lockdown started, more than 40% of the UK’s workforce was still working from home – just as a second wave of Covid-19 infections began to gather pace.

Publicly funded bodies face the additional challenge that the government needs to offset the money it has already spent on tackling the crisis. While tax rises may fill some of the huge hole in public finances, pressure to slash routine spending could lead to devastating cuts.

Faced with the prospect of reduced funding, public organisations must still push forward with efficiency programmes. With renewed and extended lockdown measures likely, it’s also imperative to press ahead with business continuity projects – such as providing effective and robust cloud-based systems that enable working from home.

Moving to the cloud is more than just a safety net against disruption.

But moving to the cloud is more than just a safety net against disruption. With the right partners, cloud platforms provide new ways to improve efficiency and maximise the value of assets. Cloud delivery allows public bodies to reach individuals, providing continuity in key services. In many cases, the cloud can enable new commercial partnerships, and even create new revenue streams.

Why adopt public-sector cloud software?

For organisations seeking to ride out the ongoing disruption of Covid-19, cloud systems are a fundamental part of continuity planning. Mature, secure, and available anywhere, office platforms like Microsoft Teams and G-Suite have proved their worth in keeping things flowing while teams are scattered and working from home. Video training, onboarding and conferencing also play a key role in maintaining team cohesion and supporting the company culture. Meanwhile, digital asset management platforms have become an essential way to centralise and coordinate documents, media and other files across distributed stakeholders.

Yet the value of cloud-based solutions extends well beyond the eventual end of the pandemic. Covid-19 will leave permanent changes to the way we interact and do business, and for many, working from home will become a permanent shift. For organisations, the sustained transition to more distributed working provides an opportunity to lower baseline costs by reducing spending on office space and equipment.

For many public bodies, there’s a need to accelerate digital transformation to adapt to a world that’s suddenly a lot more ‘online’. With less opportunity and demand for the face-to-face provision of goods and services, existing modernisation programmes become more pressing. In addition, there’s an urgent need to devise alternatives and put in the systems to support them.

It’s an acute challenge, where the demand to support a distributed workforce coincides with the need to provide new delivery models to a changing society. And in the public sector, large projects with multiple stakeholders complicate the picture further – particularly when many management and technical teams are themselves working from home.

Becoming agile with cloud software

Despite the urgency, achieving the best results at scale demands careful planning and the right technology choices. Public sector organisations face many of the same pressures as private companies – perhaps more so when it comes to public expectations of service availability, and the regulatory requirements for security and privacy.

Security and robustness are key areas on which to evaluate potential platforms and partners.

For these reasons, security and robustness are key areas on which to evaluate potential platforms and partners. But the public sector often works differently to private enterprise when it comes to budgeting and procurement. For the best results, and to ensure value, it’s important to choose long-term partnerships with experienced providers.

This is particularly true for organisations undergoing an accelerated digital transformation. With the need to connect staff, customers and private-sector partners with rapidly expanding libraries of digital assets, organisations need to consider versatile cloud platforms designed for appropriate levels of security and availability.

In the case of NatureScot, formerly known as Scottish Natural Heritage, that meant finding a digital asset management (DAM) platform capable of securely sharing an enormous catalogue of image, video and audio assets among more than 700 staff in 40 locations.

“What we needed was one source of truth,” says Stephen Gerrard, NatureScot’s information management programme manager. “One system that held all of that data together to let staff access the information.”

Gerrard explains that the organisation’s need to effectively categorise and share this data across the organisation was only part of the reason it chose the Imagen platform. “Eventually it’s about making all of that information available to the public. Under Open Data we’re expected to publish our data, as much of it as we can, and Imagen will help us do that.”

The right government cloud software

Publishing is at the heart of operations for RAF Media and Communications, responsible for representing the RAF’s role and activities to the media and public. Originally commissioned to ensure fast and secure upload, storage and search of RAF multimedia content, Imagen helped the RAF react quickly to changes brought about by the pandemic.

“The platform has become invaluable to the team by making the process of sharing media assets internally and externally more streamlined,” says media and communications officer, Flight Lieutenant Ronan Carey. “As well as fulfilling this brief, the platform has become essential since RAF Media and Communications has had to transition to working almost entirely remotely at this time.”

The pandemic has created the perfect storm of reasons for public sector organisations to accelerate their digital transformation and cloud delivery programmes. Yet at the same time, its impact on working conditions and budgets threatens programme delivery. For all organisations, the key to coping with an increasingly digital world is to push ahead with modernisation programmes, choosing experienced public-sector partners who can offer mature, robust and scalable platforms.

Discover how Imagen can help you protect and reimagine delivery in a rapidly changing world. Get in touch to book a demo.

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