New digital maturity assessment tool


With just five days to go until President’s Conference, we wanted to share an exciting development to Improve, our public sector specific benchmarking service.

At the conference, Socitm will be launching a brand-new Digital Maturity Assessment (DMA) toolbox as part of its Improve programme. Featuring a brand-new, fully revised question set, the online framework is based on nine key functions and pre-determined criteria that will enable organisations to assess their digital maturity and associated gaps.

Improve is comprised of five modules: User Satisfaction, Digital, Estate, Cost and Performance. Each of these has been designed to help our members advance their IT and digital services through the use of highly relevant data.

Improve’s Digital model, including the new DMA, provides unrivalled insight into the extent to which an organisation’s ICT is digitally mature. It examines where best practice measures have been adopted and what degree of commitment has been invested in digital services. The new DMA enriches this process by adding five layers of maturity to the way data is collected.

Digital is about more than changing working practices and the redesign of services. The DMA also includes measurement of Digital Leadership and consideration of Cultural Change. The new DMA was developed by considering the existing Socitm Improve Digital Module, comparing and reviewing it against GDS/Local Digital Best Practice Models and other best practice models.

This results in several metrics comparing the level of commitment and the maturity of digital services. Additionally, the new DMA examples the provision and take up of agile working. To take part in the service, each participating organisation must be prepared to answer approximately ninety Yes/No questions related to the policy decisions that have been made. This gives the most comprehensive overview of digital maturity to date and the information gathered is tailored specifically to meet the requirements of the public sector.

The DMA will be launched as part of a workshop hosted by incoming Socitm President, Sandra Taylor at 13:30 on day one of the President’s Conference (18 June). The workshop focuses on how we can create a digitally responsive culture in local government and the benefits and innovation this achieves.

This is just one of the highlights of what promises to be an exceptionally enlightening and invigorating conference.

We have great pleasure in attaching your brochure for the event. Including a detailed breakdown of all of the sessions taking place over both days, this will help you not to miss a thing.

We can’t wait to see you there!

New digital maturity assessment tool

Bringing location to life


The GeoPlace annual conference was held on 9 May 2019. With more than 550 delegates and a vast array of exhibitors, including Socitm, it is one of the biggest conferences of its type in the UK.

The conference focussed on the address and street data managed by local authority LLPG and LSG Custodians which now contains 44 million addresses and 1.39 million streets.

Non-executive director of Socitm, digital advisor, business consultant, researcher, event coordinator, experienced CIO and CDO, Jos Creese attended and has written an exclusive blog explaining why he was struck by the huge progress in using GIS in local public services over the last few years.

Tools, Toys and Technologies

GeoPlace had an enormous screen display at the entrance, showing videos of the latest IT on offer, from aerial place recognition and drones to artificial intelligence agents supporting street-based planning. Today’s mapping tools are certainly visually attractive and interactive, with sophisticated capabilities to exploit rich, granular and growing geospatial data resources.

Street level 3D modelling tools can absorb data from multiple sources, presenting an augmented reality image which aids local planners and public protection agencies. They can, also, simply just promote tourism. There are even 4D time-lapse solutions available replete with AI engines able to predict patterns of use in a location and how this could change over time.

The Lego brick shift

Many of the suppliers I spoke to also offer low-code or no-code development platforms. The Lego brick approach this enables represents a fundamental shift from the time when GIS use was owned in proprietary and professional silos. It allows faster and interactive development, and greater flexibility in using GIS technologies with geospatial data to solve complex public policy priorities.

Yet, despite the amazing progress in tools and methods, it occurs to me that there is much more that could be done with geospatial data in local public services.

There’s been big growth in using geospatial data in the private sector beyond traditional transport and logistics planning. Complex and sophisticated machine learning and robotic process automation are already being used. they connect disparate data sets about people, places and services to give insight and intelligence to multiple sectors, for example: buying habits.

The Government recently published its Industrial Strategy. It says that the UK digital economy depends on ‘world-class data, from the highest quality geospatial and climatic analysis to company information’.

I’ve written a thorough report investigating the implications of GIS for the public sector and what the Industrial Strategy means in real terms. Socitm will publish this soon. In the meantime, please share your thoughts on the issue via Twitter: @joscreese @socitm.

Bringing location to life

Our May Leadership Academy advocate

LeadershipAdvocate-May-BlogTop Talent – Give it a go, pause the working day, and focus on yourself. You get as much out of it as you put in!

I got offered a place on a pilot of the Socitm Top Talent course, to help refine and develop the course. The opportunity took me by surprise when Nadira Hussain made the offer at the West Midlands Socitm regional meetings. Especially, as being 30, I feel relatively young for leadership, despite 15 years’ experience in the industry.

Today, I am Lead Architect at Coventry City Council, responsible for Technology and Innovation for the Internal IT Service and the City Public Realm. This includes everything from Office 365, modernising internal IT systems to getting Driverless Cars, 5G, IoT and Superfast Broadband into the city in the run up to City of Culture 2021 and beyond.

Anyway, on to the Top-Talent programme, I’ll be honest in that I didn’t really know what to expect and often these courses feel like sitting in a room always learning ‘theories’ and rehashing stuff you’ve heard before. As an example, having attended traditional training, they always offer a good foundation and opportunity to network but, they have often reassured me my approach to leadership is modern, rather than picking up new skills. The Top Talent programme was different.

There are two things about the Top-Talent programme that really made a difference for me. Firstly, was being part of a group with wide-ranging backgrounds. From project managers, techie’s, experienced leaders, new leaders and some who are completely new to the industry, it’s a diverse group. It was a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and connections. Over the programme the group builds a level of trust, becoming a safe space to share challenges you face at work (or personally) and work out solutions. You don’t get this much perspective, diversity of approaches and feeling of a safe space from ‘traditional training’ courses.

Secondly, one part of the programme focuses entirely on you, it’s probably the most tiring day but really starting to question what your beliefs and values are, what inspires you, what you enjoy about your life / job. It’s amazing how much self-confidence you get when you know what makes you tick and the one to one mentoring session is cathartic, being able to unload a load of thoughts to an impartial sounding board and have the space to ‘pause the working day, and focus on yourself’. Knowing what my beliefs and values makes building trust with colleagues more natural and makes it easier to have a shared vision. Work now feels like a group of people working together for a common goal rather than following or giving orders.

Socitim’s Top Talent course reassures me that the IT Industry is finally helping future leaders to develop personal skills based around collaboration, innovation and be person-centric rather than models, hierarchies and fixed ways of doing things. It was a pleasure to be involved with its development.

The programme never really felt like work, a drag, or training – it was light-hearted, fun and engaging throughout – We discovered that someone fears Owls, that they have tiny bodies underneath all the feathers and a rather odd discussion about ‘do fish have eye lids?’ Yes, sort of!

By Adam Simmonds

Lead Architect @ Coventry City Council

Our May Leadership Academy advocate

Six reasons to train public sector leaders

We understand our members. We know they’re constrained by multiple factors including austerity, the drive to deliver ever better services and the need to push against resistant organisational cultures where people are often reluctant to change the way they do things.

Innovative, passionate and dedicated to improving outcomes for service users, the senior IT professionals who make up our network put their all into the tireless transformation of local, regional and national public services. Many of them think they simply don’t have the time to train.

However, our Leadership Academy alumni are adamant that lifelong learning is vital. Here are six reasons they say public sector leaders not only gain from training but need it.

1 Increased productivity

The right, consistent leadership can increase the productivity of your people. Fundamentally, leadership is about understanding your people emotionally. Emotional intelligence is critical to the success of a leader and that means using empathy effectively to empower and engage employees. Leadership training that encompasses emotional intelligence can hone these emotional skills in your people managers and leaders.

2 Retain your people

75% of people voluntarily resigning from jobs don’t leave their roles, they leave their managers. Ineffective leaders are exceptionally hard to work for. By investing in leadership training, you can retain your people and cut down on the drawbacks of a lengthy recruitment process.

3 Nurture future leaders

Developing and nurturing future leaders is vital. All too often, leadership roles are given to the most forward candidates with dominant personalities rather than those with the greatest potential. Identifying those who have what it takes and providing them with targeted leadership training is a skill. One that can be honed by leadership training.

4 Increase employee engagement

Feedback and encouragement are a vital facet of leadership. Giving feedback is a skill of successful leaders. Through leadership training, you can teach effective ways to give feedback to motivate and increase the skill level of your team.

5 Communicate for culture train

There are several leadership styles, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. In the public sector, particularly, leaders need to be able to communicate effectively with people at all levels. Changing an organisation’s culture to one where digital transformation becomes an objective for everyone (from the top down) requires distinct skills. Leadership training can help you develop these.

6 Make better decisions

Leadership training can result in better decision-making. Leaders functioning at a high level of emotional intelligence have the perspective to make informed, intelligent business decisions. For that reason alone, you can consider your leadership training an investment returned.

Leadership academy

Our Senior Leader workshops last one day and offer an opportunity to discuss and explore the challenges faced by senior ICT leaders. Collaborative and hands-on, the Senior Leader workshop provides you with the practical tools required to communicate effectively at all levels, maximising influence and effecting positive and lasting organisational change.

With corporate members having one free place, the Socitm Senior Leader workshop is a worthy time-investment in elevating effective communication and wider digital engagement throughout the public sector. It also opens-up networking opportunities and allows you to collaborate and share excellence and best practice with your peers. Find out more.

Six reasons to train public sector leaders

Why won’t girls study Computer Science?


Following our recent Share Cambridge event, incorporating our Women in IT meeting, we asked for our members’ feedback. Gathered by means of an anonymous survey, we were delighted that the responses included the following topical opinion piece. Socitm is all about conversation and we’d love to hear your views as to how we as a community can inspire more girls to build careers in technology and become digital leaders.

“In an increasingly digitalised world, we need more people to study computing than ever before. We also need an increasingly diverse and inclusive workforce in order to bridge a looming digital skills gap. As we stand on the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution, it’s imperative we attract and retain interest and engagement in computing early and we need to start in schools.

Alarmingly, however, research by the University of Roehampton and the Royal Society recently found that only 20% of candidates for GCSE Computer Science, and 10% for A level Computer Science, are girls.

While it’s encouraging to hear that the Department for Education has granted £2.4 million of funding to ‘Gender Balance in Computing’, a research project established to trial new initiatives designed to boost girls’ participation in computing, we need to ask some big questions. If we are going to remedy the situation, we need to understand the entrenched and complex reasons behind girls’ reluctance to study STEM subjects.

In 2018, despite the overall number of A level entries across all subjects falling, there was a 4% increase in girls taking STEM subjects on the previous year.  While – in real terms – this equates to 5,000 more girls taking STEM A levels than in 2017, actual numbers are considerably lower than for boys.  Consequently, 2018 research by PWC revealed only 15% of employees working in STEM roles in the UK are female. Distressingly, only 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women.

One of the most often aired explanations for this staggering gender imbalance is that girls simply aren’t interested in STEM subjects, particularly post 16. However, anyone who has ever spent time around young children and tablet devices, knows this is absurdly untrue. While a degree of disinterest is inevitable in either sex, research shows that where girls are given practical technological tasks to complete and enjoy as frequently as their male counterparts, their interest is piqued and retained at a corresponding level. Disengagement typically occurs when peers, parents and teaching staff, wittingly or otherwise, begin to suggest or promote segregation in the way girls and boys evaluate and solve technical problems. Where there is equality between the sexes in terms of practical digital experiences, girls show more than enough aptitude, understanding and enthusiasm.

The truth is that in Western society, girls are constantly subject to an influx of subliminal messaging pushing them towards so-called ‘soft subjects’. While boys are encouraged to get their hands dirty and be assertive, girls are told, emphatically, that their role is to mediate, negotiate and people please. Arguably, what the today’s emergence of technology does (as well as being an operational game changer) is to elevate those self-same ‘soft skills’ from a position of perceived inferiority to the vanguard of a sector revolution. In placing collaboration and communication at the fore, digital transformation is dependent on professionals who have a broad understanding of its value as a philosophy rather than viewing it merely as ‘tech’. With this in mind, after years of being dissuaded from technology roles, girls are now ideally placed to lead the industry as it transitions and blossoms?

Unfortunately, with so few women visible in the sector, the challenge of bridging the technology gender divide all too often falls almost exclusively to teachers and the lack of practical opportunities available in a classroom setting all too often fail to inspire. Furthermore, non-specialist educationalists – outside of further and higher education – are unlikely to have the digital skills to teach computer science at the required level.

Without Digital Leaders stepping in to make-up the classroom shortfall, it seems unlikely that the UK’s digital skills shortage will be fully addressed and that’s a huge blow to everyone. Perhaps what is required is a targeted and meaningful campaign whereby we – as public sector professionals – step in and offer girls (and boys) the chance to understand the potential and importance of careers in technology. If not, the future of the industry is set to suffer worldwide as the skills shortage spreads and grows.”

Share your views on Twitter @socitm or by email:

Why won’t girls study Computer Science?

Our April Leadership Academy advocate


Empowered Women, Empower Women.

That’s the only way I can describe the journey which led me to Socitm’s Empowering Women in a Digital World (EWDW).

Nadira Hussain, Socitm’s Director of Leadership Development & Research, leader in the creation of EWDW, inspired and empowered me to take full advantage of the EWDW programme.

The programme promised to inspire motivate and empower. Helping to find confidence in stepping out of my comfort zone to develop both personally and professionally.
The EWDW programme did not fail to deliver upon its promises!

I have built confidence in accelerating my career choices, recognised the importance of creating strong networks, strengthened my leadership skills whilst empowering others, challenging myself to do something today my future self will be proud of.

What a revelation this was – I had to have been my worst critic.

Thinking about it now, my inner voice wasn’t very nice at all, clouding my capacity to take an accurate measurement of what I am capable of.

The EWDW programme, complimented by 1:1 tuition from my Co-Active coach, gave me the tools and skills I needed to recognise my negative inner voice (crow) and silence it.

Reflecting on the last year since the EWDW programme, I have achieved lots to be proud of.

  • Stepping out of autopilot and being very present in the moment
  • Leadership success
  • Staff Excellence Awards nomination
  • Empowering others to excel
  • Round Table Event speaker and organisation support.
  • #IamRemarkable facilitator
  • Organiser and speaker at LBE’s International Women’s day conference

Being a speaker at the IDW conference, alongside very inspirational leaders, reminded me, that we are never fully in control of self-doubt, and the inner voice/crow cannot be put back in its cage for ever – there will always be those fight or flight moments.

However, with huge thanks to the EWDW Programme, I have the toolkit to take lead of challenging situations, making change last forever.

By Toni Green
End user computing manager

Our April Leadership Academy advocate

Healthy discussion: Join the conversation

Healthy discussion - Join the conversation

Share Cambridge 2019 takes place today, Thursday 25th April. The event’s key focus is the wellbeing and health of residents and places and, together with our policy partner DELL EMC, we are developing and sharing cutting-edge ideas on how we can all help to build better communities.

Together, we’ll be taking a fresh look at how the determinants of people’s wellbeing can enable housing authorities, leisure providers, environmental management, education, police, public health, care organisations and health providers (he public sector in the widest sense) to refocus its efforts on addressing the often entrenched and endemic problems in our society.

Over the next six months, Socitm will be furthering this important discussion by publishing a series of guides explaining how digital technologies and better use of data can help deliver a health and wellbeing transformation through collaboration with people in their diverse settings.

Committed to conversation and collaboration, we want to hear your views. We’d love your feedback on the topics we plan to cover. Are there other areas you’d like us to address? What are your thoughts on the points outlined below?

  1. Introduction – the compelling Case for Change
    • National Backdrop – NHS deficits and cumulative budget reductions in LG, ageing demographics, smart cities, workforce challenges, changes in expectations within society, reduction in service variation, place-based and people-centred priorities, left-shift, wider determinants of wellbeing, innovation initiatives, looking after yourself, focusing finite resources on the most vulnerable including those with long terms conditions.
    • How can local authorities respond?
    • Role of the CIO/CDO, digital leaders and place-based convenors.
    • CIO’s should largely think about how technology/digital can impact prevention in their local populations, then think about how the resulting new services can be enabled and made more efficient by technology
    • Aligning multi-agency priorities, resources, action plans, etc
    • Uplifting skills – building capacity and capability nationally and locally
    • New Data Insights
    • Place based knowledge sharing
    • Care technology solutions – trends, types and themes
    • Commissioning landscape – intentions, models, examples and themes
    • Five key priority actions
    • Five key areas to avoid
  1. New Models of Care
    • Person-centred service design concepts
    • New ways of commissioning services – outcome-based and value-based
    • The role of technology and digital in delivering the new care models
    • Examples of emerging new models of care
  1. New Data Insights
    • Drive towards data-driven decision making
    • Acknowledging the wider determinants of health populations
    • New data set sources and the impact of combining them
    • Internet of Things and harnessing the vast data they generate
    • Advances in Health & SC population analytics
    • Latest thinking on ethical use of data
    • Examples of successful new interventions enabled by new data insights
  1. How to deliver HealthTech innovation in your location?
    • Human-centred design and Co-production
    • Standards – helping to consolidate the no of apps
    • Platforms – integration and interoperability
    • Culture – new care delivery models including Digital Ways of Working (DWoW)
    • Examples in practice
  1. How to approach Integrated Digital Care Records (IDCR) development
    • Key Q&A
    • Step-by-step guide
    • Local Care Record integration
    • Key dos and don’ts
    • District Councils contribution and support
  1. Place-based approach wellbeing – the Scottish experience
  • National context – NHS Scotland – 14 Boards, including NHS National Services Scotland – data collection for performance metrics – volume and diversity of data sets
    • Putting data at the heart of place-based policy, decision-making and practice
  • Opening up data – the emergence and practice of probability matching
  • Federated approach – from data warehouse model to data lake
  • 2014 legislation – beyond health to wellbeing … development of PaaS approach – enabling organisations to develop their own data analytics skills – opening up opportunities to address local problems
  • Two case studies:
  1. Midlothian –impact of educational attainment on healthcare needs
  2. Edinburgh – impact of social isolation on health and wellbeing
  • Future – NHS-Scotland working with SEMIS (Education) – impact of educational attainment levels on life chances
  • Infographic – A framework for outcomes-based harnessing of data
  • Conclusions – sense of purpose – people (awareness, skills …) – processes – data sourcing and management – technologies and tools – investment.

Please add your voice to this important conversation. Get in touch via Twitter using #sharecambridge and WomeninTech. Discussion is healthy and our wellbeing depends upon digital leaders like you sharing excellence and ideas.

Healthy discussion: Join the conversation