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Building back better: education sector falling behind on digital adoption, as red flags reported in the public sector

As the UK government and public sector seeks to ‘build back better’ from the Covid-19 pandemic, connectivity funding is revealed as the key to successful growth.

The education sector is being left in the digital dark ages due to insufficient investment in core IT connectivity systems. A new report has found that the public sector only met around a third of key indicators for successful digital transformation initiatives, scoring lower than all other industries involved in the study.

These real-world indicators were identified in a survey of 247 medium-to-large UK organisations, and data, cloud and network infrastructure service providers. Overall, four in every five UK organisations are unable to scale plans to their fullest potential with current connectivity arrangements. Just 20% of UK organisations state they are in a position to undertake digital transformation plans.

Conducted by leading dedicated internet access and business connectivity provider Neos Networks, the findings highlight challenges the education sector faces in ‘building back better’. The report also focuses on what’s needed to ensure UK business has future-ready systems and just how many companies need connectivity investment to grow.

Full report available here: 

The findings come after an independent report from the Digital Economy Council, which stated that the state of government digital services was ‘one of the greatest barriers’ to civil service innovation. 

Responding to the Neos Network’s report on digital transformation, 84% of organisations state their digital transformation plans have accelerated due to Covid-19. For almost half (49%) of those surveyed, these plans have been accelerated by a year or more. Almost every organisation (98%) said they consider digital transformation to be important to their future strategy.

The factors that influence education sector digital transformation success

The report found that four in five companies saw a ‘highly successful’ digital transformation success rate when up to 20% or more of the digital transformation budget was devoted to connectivity or networking. For companies allocating 10% or less of their budget to connectivity or networking, the success rate dropped to one in five, illustrating the fundamental role that connectivity plays in digital development.

The report highlighted 14 ‘keys to success’ surrounding digital transformation. The following factors are those most common to highly successful firms:

  • 90% of highly successful firms — recognition of significant benefits conferred by SD-WAN (which include proactive management, better performance information and control of applications)
  • 74% — IT department is always involved in specifying and implementing connectivity solutions used in digital transformation
  • 72% — connectivity and networking budget is 10% or more of the overall digital transformation budget
  • 72% — have a ‘very supportive’ telecoms partner
  • 63% — seeing securing remote internet connections as very important

Industries that embraced these digital transformation indicators are more likely to enjoy ‘highly successful’ digital transformation outcomes. Energy & utility firms are best positioned, holding seven ‘keys to success’, on average. They are closely followed by the transport sector, which has just under seven keys.

The industry with the lowest score was the government & public sector, with just over five indicators met. However, the reality is that organisations from all sectors have work to do, with none demonstrating more than half of the 14 ‘keys to success’ identified.

Andy Bell, Sales Director for Public Sector at Neos Networks, says:

“With the economic landscape we’re seeing right now, UK business desperately needs investment, particularly in the digital sphere. We know that connectivity is absolutely integral when organisations are pursuing digital transformation and this report bears that out: businesses’ digital initiatives are more successful when there’s a real focus on connectivity.

“When Covid-19 came along and enforced remote working, many ‘digital dinosaur’ organisations had no choice but to invest in connectivity. It’s important to keep the momentum going though, because the UK needs advanced connectivity if it’s to achieve economic growth in the current economic climate. 

“And looking further ahead, the education sector cannot be allowed to lag behind when it comes to digital: the next generation must have access to up-to-date digital systems. After all, they’re the ones who’ll be powering tomorrow’s economy.”

Lyall Creswell, founder & CEO of Transport Exchange Group, says:

“There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation initiatives. In our industry, this has been driven primarily by changes to consumer behaviour and the huge increase in online purchases and more deliveries. Consumers have warmed to the idea of using ecommerce for everything from grocery shopping to financial transactions, and this has had a massive impact on the logistics industry.

“One of the biggest issues in our sector is a skills shortage – most courier and haulage businesses don’t have dedicated IT resource to map out a proper digital transformation strategy and implement the right tech. Sometimes, there’s also a reluctance to fully support digitalisation. But there’s been a sharp contrast around the acceptance of digital workflow pre and during the pandemic.

Pete Hanlon, CTO at Moneypenny, says:

“It’s easy to be consumed by day-to-day work and put off large projects like digital transformation until next year. It’s also easy to think that it’s just a technology project, rather than business change. Without the right level of focus and buy-in from across all areas of the business, digital transformation will never happen.

“Companies that are more agile and take a digital-first approach have been best placed to ride out the challenges over the past two years. I believe we will see an unprecedented level of investment in digital transformation over the next few years as more and more companies adopt a similar digital-first approach. This investment can only be a good thing for the post-pandemic recovery.”

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