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Digital transformation at the Home Office

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Leadership, Transformation

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We’re celebrating 7 years since the Home Office’s Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) function was established. As the Chief Technology Officer, I’ve been reflecting on the progress we’ve made with digital transformation in my department since I joined in October 2018.  

What do we mean by digital transformation at the Home Office?    

For me, digital transformation is about adapting an organisation’s strategy and structure to capture opportunities enabled by digital technologies. It requires a mindset shift that lets us adapt and respond confidently to emerging needs and challenges so we can serve the public better.   

While transformation by its nature will never stop, I’d say we’re about halfway through our current journey. Our intent is that we are able to make rapid and strategic changes across all the Home Office systems and some of our recent successes showcase what is now possible.   

We have completely revolutionised how the police work with data. Our Law Enforcement Data Service is a scalable cloud platform that empowers operational officers, giving them access to vital information and critical new insights as soon as they become available, helping officers make informed decisions in real time. 

The e-gates, at the point of entry to the United Kingdom ('the UK'), process more passengers than any equivalent system worldwide. These systems have transformed border crossings by significantly reducing wait times, enhancing security through biometric authentication and providing a self-service experience that improves traveller convenience, while allowing Border Control Officers to focus on analysing risks. This progress with e-gates has been down to the hard work of everyone in our Digital Services at the Border Programme, which has digitised regular migration and provided a single view of people crossing the border using the Person Centric Data Platform. 

We’ve greatly modernised the immigration service, for example, through rolling out a new digital case-working system called Atlas. Atlas automates large parts of the immigration casework process and will ultimately eradicate the use of paper. Information from historic case files have also been migrated onto the new platform so case workers can easily access all the data they need to. Our colleagues can now spend more time identifying potential security risks, ensuring the safety of the public. Meanwhile applications of those who are migrating to the UK are dealt with far more swifty, thereby improving the user experience.  

Home Office colleagues are contributing ideas to digital transformation  

We’re further evaluating how we continue to improve our operations and achieve true digital transformation through ‘Connect Conversations’ held across the Home Office.   

These conversations are a series of events that give colleagues the opportunity to share their views on a particular topic. The topics are chosen in response to interest and, this year, colleagues want to discuss digital transformation.   

We’ll be asking questions like how the specific processes in day-to-day operations can be made more efficient. For example, could a particular administrative process be more joined-up or even automated?   

We’ll use the data collated from these conversations to strengthen our ability to transform.   

Implementing other digital transformation initiatives  

DDaT stands for more than technology, tooling and automation. Wider digital transformation involves us having to rethink and improve how the Home Office operates. And this is why everyone across the department has a role to play – our people, no matter their role, are the key to helping us become a more modern department. If we want to transform our services, we need to transform the way we think and work.    

It’s why the DDaT Strategy and our Home Office CoLab highlight the importance of initiatives such as product-centricity. Both provide ways to introduce digital behaviours that can help us transform our culture and change how we design and deliver services. By breaking down siloes and encouraging cross-functional teams, they’re enabling us to unlock opportunities and respond more effectively to the challenges we face.   

We need to ensure native digital behaviours – like openness, empowerment and collaboration – are embedded into our culture so that we understand and make the most of what technology can do for us.   

Connect Conversations are tapping into our colleagues’ curiosity about the potential for digital transformation across the Home Office. We’d love to hear from other large departments who are working on a similar digital cultural shift and the initiatives they’re leading to enable this. Please let us know using the comments below.  

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