It’s ok to experiment with emerging technology.
It’s undeniable that there’s a huge amount of exciting technology innovation coming to market. We first hear about these technology innovations through buzzwords like ‘Blockchain’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Along with these buzzwords come promises that these technologies can provide new ways of delivering services to citizens and customers.
It’s also clear that understanding the range of technologies – and crucially, where they can be applied appropriately – is a major challenge for public and private sector organisations.
At Methods, we are currently seeing growing pressure for organisations to ‘do things differently’ by making use of these new technologies. However, it can be difficult to know where to get started and how to move forward. We know, it’s crucial to make sure the focus always remains on the user and not to get caught up in the trap of “tech for tech’s sake.”
We are a healthy mix of scepticism and excitement about these emerging technologies!
For these reasons, we’ve spent the last few months establishing an Emerging Technology team to understand these new technologies and really dig into how they might be used to improve public services.
The Emerging Technology team focuses on a number of different technology areas including:
The Emerging Technology team’s role is to help current and future clients in these key areas:
- Busting the hype by understanding and ‘demystifying’ the range of emerging technologies that are now available.
- Identifying the user needs and pain points that can be addressed by these technologies by connecting, how they are being used in the wider market with where they could be used to enhance service delivery.
- Really thinking critically about the strategic and ethical considerations of using these technologies.
- Finding an appropriate problem to solve and then working to prototype or deliver a full implementation of an emerging technology solution.
- Standing back and thinking about whether these technologies can enable common service patterns and capabilities across different organisations or industries.
So what have we actually done in the Emerging Technology space?
We’ve already completed some good work that we’re proud of – including leading our own internal R&D activities and completing a range of client engagements, including:
- Interactive demos which highlight the ‘Art of the Possible’ as well as bringing things like ethical considerations to life. For example, Methods’ first deep learning demo – successfully presented during multiple client workshops, combined facial recognition with Deep Learning and has delighted clients and staff alike.
- ‘Introduction to Artificial Intelligence’ workshops that help to demystify what AI is, and identify the different areas where it could help the client solve its business or service problems.
- The ‘Digital Street’ project with HM Land Registry where we used Corda, technology firm R3’s blockchain platform, to explore how Blockchain
could revolutionise the land registration and property buy-sell process, making it easier, faster and more transparent.
- A reference architecture for each area, that is designed to provide technology and vendoragnostic blueprints of ‘what good looks like’. Our public sector clients can then use these architectural artefacts (as evidenced by our work at the DVLA and NHS) to conceptualise their problem statements, define project scope & technology roadmaps, and to identify risk & capability gaps. These have already been used by clients successfully, for example, defining a 3-year roadmap using our MI / BI reference architecture.
To support all of this, we’re in the process of building on our existing network of best-in-class technology partners that we can call upon. Methods is technology-agnostic – we aren’t re-sellers of any particular technology – and we pride ourselves on identifying the best technology for the job. Our work with R3 Corda and the Land Registry is an example of this – and I have no doubt there will be more in future.
We’re evolving alongside the GovTech movement
With this is mind, we welcome the recent increased focus on GovTech, as we recognise that there are a large number of start-ups and more established companies out there that can help clients, including in the public sector, address user needs more effectively. An important role for us is to be fully aware of what’s happening in the wider emerging technology market; to be able to advise clients authoritatively; and to be able to work with technology partners on client projects.
Finally, I was delighted to see the Government Digital Service blog saying it’s okay to experiment with emerging technology. Our new Emerging Technology team is obsessed with experimentation!
I’m a big believer that the best use of sometimes these new and emerging technologies are not always obvious – so we need to test new ways of doing things in order to unlock innovation and improved ways of working. And that doing this responsibly through a well-managed process can reap real benefits. Long may this mindset continue!
If any of this sounds interesting to you, or you feel you might have some user needs that could be helped through emerging technology like Blockchain or Artificial Intelligence then please get in touch!
We’re especially proud of our ‘Introduction to Artificial Intelligence’ workshops and are always on the lookout for new partners to help prototype, experiment or pilot projects with these emerging technologies.
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org