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April 2020
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GPSJ Exclusive: Top Five Tech Trends Impacting the UK Public Sector

GPSJ Government & Public Sector Journal

George Brasher

George Brasher, Managing Director, HP UK and Ireland talks exclusively to GPSJ

Talking to GPSJ editor, Stuart Littleford, George said: “With the new decade well underway, government departments are rightly continuing to explore new digital frontiers. From recent conversations with industry and government leaders.”  He has identified five public sector trends to keep an eye on:

  1. Quantum Computing Takes a Quantum Leap

The Government will continue to explore the possibilities around quantum computing in the coming year. Whereas traditional computers are built around 1s and 0s, or what we call “bits,” quantum computers will use subatomic quantum bits or “qubits” that can simultaneously exist as a one and zero. This nascent technology could eventually solve problems in minutes rather than thousands of years.

In fact, Google claimed it achieved “quantum supremacy” in October 2019, with its chip completing a task in 200 seconds that researches estimated would take a current supercomputer 10,000 years or more. This could dramatically accelerate how people create everything from drugs to cars to new food sources.

Last June, the Government announced a fresh £153 million investment in efforts to commercialise quantum computing, increasing its total commitment to its 6-year-old National Quantum Technologies Programme to more than £1 billion. Former Science Minister Chris Skidmore also announced £94 million of funding for the UK’s Quantum Technologies Research Hubs, located at Oxford, Birmingham, Glasgow and York.

According to the University of Oxford, quantum research under way already includes technologies to help fire crews see through smoke and dust, construction projects to visualise unmapped terrain such as the innards of old mines and cameras that let motor vehicles to peer around corners.  Government interest in quantum computing is expected to rise and intensify as new applications for the technology become inescapably apparent.

  1. Everything-as-a-Service Goes Mainstream

We’re continuing to see rapid momentum towards subscription-based consumption models in both commercial and consumer capacities. Public bodies appear to be far more open today to service models than they were just a few years ago, mirroring a global trend in which more than 80 percent of new technology solutions adopted by governments are expected to be delivered and supported by service models as early as 2023, according to Gartner.

This is significantly changing the way technology purchases are managed within organisations. Previously, when a business purchased PCs or a fleet of printers, it tended to purchase in bulk all at once, meaning there was a large investment upfront. They then had to either staff up internally to manage and secure those devices or hire outside maintenance teams to manage the fleet.

With a Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) or Managed Print Services (MPS) approach, computer and printer purchases become a monthly operating expense, so the investment is spread out over time. These services ensure customers always have access to the latest devices—which are maintained and secured by outside experts—and business leaders can better predict costs and reduce downtime. IT personnel are then free to focus on more strategic matters, such as critical management and operations functions beyond device maintenance.

  1. Supply Chain Security Becomes Critical

One of the greatest concerns of any supply chain — especially for technology purchased by the Government from international vendors — is the potential for parts suppliers to be compromised by foreign governments.

This is an issue of national security because every part of the supply chain can be attacked, including emerging 5G networks. This is why public sector technology purchasing decisions are so critical. In the past, many budget-minded government agencies have defaulted to purchasing lowest priced technically acceptable (LPTA) computers and printers because that’s how they’ve always done it. But with cyberthreats against government institutions increasing in frequency and maliciousness, every department should only be purchasing equipment from vendors with trustworthy supply chains.

More progress around government legislation is expected – such as the Telecoms Supply Chain Review, which aims to toughen cybersecurity controls over the telecommunications supply chain and developing 5G infrastructure.

  1. AI Continues Its March in the Public Sector

The way some people talk about it, artificial intelligence often sounds like a magical technology that can cure almost any societal ill. But the fact is AI algorithms are great at certain things and not so good at others, such as accurately recognising objects.

For government purposes, though, AI is becoming increasingly interesting because of its ability to automate time-consuming and repetitive tasks, such as data research and citizen support. At the same time, it also presents amazing opportunities for instinctively detecting and guarding against unknown — or zero day — cyberattacks that many IT security professionals might not otherwise catch.

  1. Comprehensive Security at the Edge

The news of the next major security breach barely registers as a shock given how ubiquitous cybercrime has become. In the public sector, the statistics are grim: 18 percent of the UK’s public organisations suffered more than 1,000 cyberattacks in 2018 alone, exposing millions of potentially sensitive records. As cybercriminals become smarter, faster and better at deploying new methods of attack, yesterday’s security protocols will no longer suffice.

In the same way the private sector is rethinking comprehensive security, so too must government entities. Networks are only as strong as their weakest point—whether it be a PC, printer, phone, tablet or other connected device—and cybercriminals have become masters at probing for and exploiting these soft spots. Embedded security in endpoint devices is an investment small business and enterprises alike must consider to properly protect data, detect malware and recover potentially compromised data.

But what is most important among government leaders is to create a culture of education and security literacy within their organisations, especially as the UK determines if they will continue adhering to EU security protocols post-Brexit. Looking ahead, one thing is certain: government agencies need to ditch the old LPTA procurement model and focus, instead, on options offering better operational efficiency, productivity and security.

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