Our Future State

Last week, (Mon 8th June) Chris gave the opening keynote at the Digital Leaders 15th National Digital Conference ND2020. The conference theme, the importance of resilience in an unsteady state, sums up so much of what we are all feeling and experiencing right now.

Over the course of the week the conference considered, innovating in an unsteady state, public services, work and skills, data and on Friday ‘smarter places’.

  1. Monday 8th June – Innovating in an unsteady state;
  2. Tuesday 9th June – Transforming public services;
  3. Wednesday 10th June – The future of work and skills;
  4. Thursday 11th June – Data in a new reality;
  5. Friday 12th June – Smarter Places

In his keynote Chris addressed how we have all found ourselves in this unsteady state and asked what kind of state we want, need and have the potential to bring about, as a consequence of this current crisis.

Chris highlighted that the mantra goes that “we are all in this together” whilst suggesting that although, clearly, we are all in this, but we are not together in many, fundamental, ways.

Chris suggests that what we need is a state built upon the common good, optimised through human led inclusive innovation.  Energised through a new smart social contract. His key point is that we can transition to this new state if we get the combination right of talent and technology, inclusion and innovation.  Every touch point, every decision, every intervention human led, technology augmented, the relationship between the two, optimised.

To explore what the re-conceived, ‘smart’ social contract could look like it is possible to examine almost any area of policy. Take state finance as one example.  A matter of months ago no one could have imagined billions being brought to bear to keep the economy and the country going.  The Government has, understandably, gone “tried and tested” but there are a plethora of existing and yet to be conceived means of approaching such a crisis.

We need to consider every element of the state; it’s structures, relationships, approaches.  We have the opportunity, we have the need to do things radically different for the benefit of all concerned and beyond.

Over the coming weeks Chris will lay out some thoughts on the opportunity in front of us and how we may choose to take it.  He will consider the stuff which, at first, might not exactly get the pulse racing but which can enable the most transformational possibilities to become real.  The areas to be considered: payments infrastructure, procurement, investment, sovereign wealth funds, Central Bank Digital Currencies and more.

Chris argues that it is entirely possible for us to have the state we want and need. A state that can efficiently and effectively interact, provide, enable, empower, unleash individual, organisational and national potential and play such a positive part for a new global relationship.   

It is not a matter of technology, that is subsequent. Technology is putting some phenomenal tools in our well washed hands but success will come down to leadership. The basis for a truly successful contract between state and citizen will come down to values, behaviours and real, respectful relationships, it will come down to trust.  We owe it to all those who have been cruelly taken from us before their time, to our front line workers who have selflessly put themselves in harm’s way and to the generations yet to come.

Chris summed up with a passionate call to action.

“It’s a Herculean mission, it’s the mission for our time, it’s my mission, if we are to get after covid and other future pandemics, climate change, mobility, resource optimisation, it must be all our missions, the journey to an inclusive digital state, enabled, energised through a new smart social contract, let’s get on it.”