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Information Revolution In Government

James Stewart (, James Abley (Government Digital Service)
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The UK Government’s ground-breaking GOV.UK project started with a tool to capture and understand user data about user needs called need-o-tron. Need-o-tron was the heart of the project helping the team understand the vast landscape of what citizens might need of government, and focus in on the genuine, core needs that only government can serve. It was a useful tool in itself, but its true power was in the conversations it stimulated and the mental processes it hacked.

The child of need-o-tron is “the Performance Platform”, a suite of tools to understand the performance of government services, helping service managers and their teams understand the performance of their services and how they can be improved. That’s a huge step away from immensely detailed value stream maps about a call-centre and paper process (which might be an inherently 5-day long journey), to something that’s digital, lightweight, fast and pleasant to use. The Performance Platform will publish the existing (call-centre volume) data and capture new data about conversion funnels and our 4 core metrics about digital transactions. And it’ll make the vast majority of that data public.

Building tools for well over 600 government services isn’t something that can happen overnight and is never solely going to be a technical challenge. We’ll talk about the iterative approach underway to move from the world of need-o-tron to a world of truly data driven government services, and the huge cultural shift that’s involved in getting us there. Along the way we’ll explore techniques that can be applied in many large organisations, or anywhere that a little culture hacking is required.

Photo of James Stewart

James Stewart

Technical Architect of UK Government single-domain project, GOV.UK. East Londoner. Husband. Father.

Photo of James Abley

James Abley

Government Digital Service

Working for Government Digital Service, providing the next generation of digital services @gdsteam for citizens


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