Vern Davis, Head of Aerospace, Defence and Security at Sopra
Steria, has been featured in the latest issue of ADS Advance to outline how
adoption of technological best practices could equip the UK’s Police Force to
address the rise in serious and organised crime (SOC). Impacting more citizens
than any other national security threat, SOC costs the UK an estimated £37
billion a year – a figure projected to increase if no action is taken in the
Currently, information vital for the identification of
serial criminals is distributed across local IT platforms; a practice that
limits the Force’s ability to share intelligence internally.
In the article Vern outlines how legacy systems, processes
and partners could be leveraged to improve the sharing of this vital
intelligence, bridging connectivity and data gaps that currently limit the
Force’s knowledge management capability.
Sopra Steria is proud to announce the recent signing of a three
year contract to provide its STORM Command and Control system to Durham
Constabulary. STORM enables Durham Constabulary to enhance public service
delivery and provide more efficient scheduling of resources.
Sopra Steria and Durham Constabulary have a strong
partnership and this contract extends that to a total of 16 years. During this
time, Durham Constabulary have been instrumental in providing user feedback to inform
product developments as part of the STORM User Group. The User Group, comprised
of members from 26 forces, meets biannually to discuss product developments
which feed into the Sopra Steria roadmap.
Chief Inspector Steve Long, Head of Force Control Room
commented: ‘Durham Constabulary has worked with Sopra Steria for a significant
period of time and we have established a good working relationship. It is
essential that Durham Constabulary continue to deliver an efficient and effective
service to the public and we will continue to build upon our partnership with
Sopra Steria to achieve that aim.’
Muz Janoowalla, Head of Emergency Services at Sopra Steria,
said: ‘We are proud of our long relationship with Durham Constabulary and delighted
to continue working with the force to keep the people of County Durham and
The awards will
celebrate and acknowledge the best in all aspects of 21st century policing. Reflecting
that effective modern day policing requires partnership and collaboration,
whether in teams of officers and staff; collaboration between forces;
multi-agency operations; wider public sector involvement; and collaboration
also with the supplier community and beyond.
Rix, Founder of World Class Policing Awards said. “We are delighted to have Sopra Steria on board as a Founder Sponsor
and are very much looking forward to working with them to develop and
deliver an outstanding World Class Policing Awards event in November 2019.”
Head of Emergency Services at Sopra Steria said, “ As a long term partner of policing,
both nationally and internationally, Sopra Steria are proud to be a founding
sponsor of the awards, and look forward to recognising the very best in UK and
information on the awards and how to nominate can be found on the World Class
In 2013, Steria Ltd pledged to support the armed forces
community through the signing of the covenant. It is a pledge that recognises the
need to treat those who have served in the armed forces, and their families,
with respect and fairness. In the five years since we signed this pledge,
Steria went on to become Sopra Steria and it is with great pleasure we
reconfirm our commitment to this covenant with a new signing by John Torrie,
CEO of Sopra Steria UK and Asia.
Our pledge focuses on three key themes;
Employment opportunities for ex-service men and
women, reservists and their families including assisting with transition from
military to civilian employment
Fundraising for Armed Forces charities through a
series of events throughout the year including our Community Matters week
Supporting local cadet and school outreach
activities by providing speakers, facilitators and mentors to programmes
Sopra Steria is proud of the activity we already undertake
towards these three themes and 2019 is no exception. We are exhibiting at a
number of the Career Transition Partnership recruitment events as well as
Security Cleared Expo. We are undergoing a resource transformation programme
that looks specifically at this community and how we attract talent, support
them through the process and then manage transition and career development.
We are also delighted to be sponsoring the category of
‘Innovator of the Year’ at the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards. Innovation
is at the heart of what we do at Sopra Steria so we are delighted to be in a
position to recognise that amongst this community.
Most public and private sector leaders are acutely aware that they are supposed to be living and breathing digital: working smarter, serving people better, collaborating more intuitively. So why do front line realities so often make achieving a state of digital nirvana feel like just that: an achievable dream? The world is much messier and more complex for most organisations than they dare to admit, even internally. Achieving meaningfully digital transformation, with my staff/ customers/ deadlines/ management structure/ budgets? It’s just not realistic.
That’s where the Innovation Practice at Sopra Steria steps in.
I count myself lucky to be one of our global network of DigiLab Managers. My job is not just to help our clients re-imagine the future; anyone can do that. It’s to define and take practical steps to realising that new reality in meaningful ways, through the innovative use of integrated digital technologies, no matter what obstacles seem to bar the path ahead.
This is not innovation for the sake of it. Instead, our obsession is with delivering deep business performance, employee and customer experience transformation that really does make that living and breathing digital difference. Innovation for the sake of transformation taking clients from the land of make-believe to the tried and tested, in the here and now.
The beautiful bit? The only essentials for this process are qualities that we all have to hand: the ability to ask awkward questions, self-scrutinise and allow ourselves to be inquisitive and hopeful, fearlessly asking “What If?”.
Welcome to five days of relentless focus, scrutiny and radical thinking
The practical approach we adopt to achieving all this takes the form of an Innovation Sprint: a Google-inspired methodology which lets us cover serious amounts of ground in a short space of time. The Sopra Steria version of this Sprint is typically conducted over 5 days at one of our network of DigiLabs. These modular and open creative spaces are designed for free thinking, with walls you can write on, furniture on wheels and a rich and shifting roll-call of experts coming together to share their challenges, insights and aspirations. We also try to have a resident artist at hand, because once you can visualise something, solving it becomes that bit easier.
The only rule we allow? That anything legal and ethical is fair game as an idea.
Taking a crowbar and opening the box on aspiration
Innovation Sprints are the best way I know to shake up complex challenges, rid ourselves of preconceptions and reform for success. I want to take you through the structure of one of the recent Sprints we conducted to give you a peak at how they work, using the example of a Central Government client we have been working with. Due to the sensitive nature of the topics we discussed, names and details obviously need to stay anonymous.
In this Sprint we used a bulging kitbag of tools to drive out insight, create deliberate tensions, prioritise actions and, as one contributor neatly put it, ‘push beyond the obvious’. That kitbag included Journey Maps, Personas, Value Maps, Business Model Canvases and non-stop sketching alongside taking stacks of photos and videos of our work to keep us on track and help us capture new thinking.
Before we started, we outlined a framework for the five days in the conjunction with two senior service delivery and digital transformation leads from the Central Government Department in question. This allowed us to distil three broad but well-defined focus areas around their most urgent crunch points and pains. The three we settled on were ‘Channel shifting services’, ‘Tackling digital exclusion’ and ‘Upskilling teams with digital knowhow and tools’.
Monday: Mapping the problem
We kicked off by defining the problems and their context. Using a ‘Lightning Talks’ approach, we let our specialists and stakeholders rapidly download their challenges, getting it all out in the open and calling out any unhelpful defaults or limited thinking. In this particular Sprint, we covered legacy IT issues, employee motivation, citizen needs and vulnerabilities and how to deliver the most compassionate service, alongside PR, brand and press challenges, strategic aims and aspirations and major roadblocks. That was just Day One! By getting the tangle of challenges out there, we were able to start really seeing the size and shape of the problem.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: Diving into the molten core
This is where things always get fluid, heated and transformation. We looked in turn at the three core topics that we wanted to address, following a set calendar each day. We would ‘decode’ in the morning, looking at challenges in more detail again using ‘Lightning Talks’ from key stakeholders to orientate us. Our experts shared their pains in a frank and open way. We then drilled each of our key topics, ideating and value mapping, identifying opportunities to harness innovation and adopt a more user-centric approach to technology.
At the heart of this activity we created key citizen and employee personas using a mixture of data-driven analysis and educated insight. An exercise called “How might we…?” helped us to free-think around scenarios, with key stakeholders deciding what challenges they wanted to prioritise for exploration. We were then directed by these to map key user journeys for our selected personas, quickly identifying roadblocks, testing or own assumptions, refining parameters and sparking ideas for smarter service design.
On each day we created Day +1 breakaway groups that were able to remain focused on the ideas generated the day before, ensuring that every topic had a chance to rest and enjoy a renewed focus.
Friday: Solidifying and reshaping for the future
On our final day, we pulled it all together and started to make the ideas real. We invited key stakeholders back into the room and revealed the most powerful insights and synergies that we had unearthed. We also explored how we could use the latest digital thinking to start solving their most pressing challenges now and evolve the service to where it would need to be in 3-5 years’ time. Our expert consultants and leads in automation and AI had already started to design prototypes and we honestly validated their potential as a group. Some ideas flew, new ones were generated, some were revealed to be unworkable and some were banked, to be pursued at a later date. We then discussed as a team how to achieve the transformations needed at scale (the department is predicting a rapid 4-fold growth in service use) while delivering vital quick wins that would make a palpable difference, at speed. This would help us to secure the very senior buy in our clients needed for the deeper digital transformations required. To wrap up, we explored how we could blueprint the tech needed, work together to build tight business cases, design more fully fledged prototypes, strike up new partnerships and financial models and do it all with incredible agility.
Some photos from the week
Fast forward into the new
My personal motto is: How difficult could that be? When you’re dealing with huge enterprises and Central Government departments devoted to looking after the needs of some of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised in our society, the answer is sometimes: Very! But in my experience, there is nothing like this Sprint process for helping organisations of all stripes and sizes to move beyond unhelpful default thinking and get contributions from the people who really know the challenges inside out. With this client, we were able to map their challenges and talk with real insight and empathy about solutions, in ways they had never experienced before. We were also able to think about how we could leverage Sopra Steria’s own knowledge and embedded relationships with other government departments to create valuable strategic synergies and economies of scale.
A Sprint is never just about brainstorming around past challenges. It’s about fast-forwarding into a better, more digital, seamless and achievable future, marrying micro-steps with macro-thinking to get there. It’s an incredibly satisfying experience for all involved and one that delivers deep strategic insight and advantage, at extreme speed. And which organisation doesn’t need that?
Let’s innovate! If you’d like to book your own hothouse sprint week extravaganza or just want to know more about the process, please get in touch
We are told that government is transforming itself. The public sector is changing into a ‘public purpose’ sector. More of the service outcomes we expect should be co-produced, across complex delivery chains, which are more connected and collaborative. Success often depends on nudging the behaviours of citizens, communities and businesses. Prevention is increasingly the mantra, empowering people with the tools they need, addressing problems quickly and providing services in settings that suit needs.
Rules are slowly being changed to harness technology in a way that works for everyone. The promise is that innovative technologies provide an opportunity to move past a choice between improving outcomes, shifting costs on to individuals or increasing pressure on staff. They are a catalyst for greater connectivity and empowerment. Not only saving time and money but enhancing public value.
But there still seems to be an inverse relationship between the transformation rhetoric and the reality. Many of the traditional government tools, which emphasise predictability, control and distinct accountabilities, struggle to address ‘wicked challenges’ that are fluid, interconnected and unpredictable.
Public services are struggling to adapt to new demands in a world characterised by speed, intensity and connectedness. They are driven by short-term demands for results and a political fix, which undermines the ability of government to make the larger system work more effectively.
Productivity has gone up mainly by doing ‘more of the same’ rather than through reform. The easiest savings have been made and choices are getting harder. As the Institute for Government recently commented, ‘governments cannot continue for long to provide the same services by simply muddling through, with dollops of emergency cash’.
What does this mean in practice? And what are the implications for the reform of public services?
First, progress has been made when using digital tools to improve many of the more transactional dimensions of government. Improvements have been made to the convenience, speed and efficiency. However, too often complexity is resulting in technology silos and a miss-match with business needs. Transformation demands more radical change across operations, processes and technology. Digital thinking and technologies have to be tightly woven into the fabric of government. Simply replacing an existing manual operation with a digital one is NOT a viable approach.
Second, new demands are being placed on the ability of public services to combine the best available skills, expertise and resources – inside government and outside in the business, academic and community sectors – and point that firepower at the right place to achieve a transformative shift. A more discerning conversation is required about the best way of achieving policy, regulatory and service delivery outcomes. Including the role of private and community sector organisations in reform of public services.
Third, we are now used to platform business models that respond to the potential of distributed networking with organisations, institutions and individuals. Yet government is constrained by an age-old culture of centralised or, at best, decentralised structures. It needs to work out which approach – centralised, decentralised or distributed – makes most sense for different tasks and contexts.
Fourth, we all want solutions that are simpler, integrated and responsive to people and their lives. So we need to reconnect policy making and delivery. Which means that delivery people are ‘in the room’ from the start of the policy process. In particular, government has to confront the reality that much of the most important information needed for good policy making is to be found through interactions with frontline staff, customers and citizens.
Fifth, trust in government is in short supply. And many private and community sector organisations appear out of touch. Being more open, responding to citizen and user concerns, becoming more transparent are all part of the solution. But the work of trust rebuilding is unspectacular and slow. It relies on leadership, daily habits, and clear thinking.
Success will be difficult but not impossible. It requires government to think about the long term. And then invest in more collaborative and evidence based ‘platforms’. This type of change depends on transparency, of purpose and approach, so that we do not just observe what is happening but at least want to know why.
Last week I was proud to continue the tradition of Sopra Steria’s support of the Young Software Engineer of the year award, since its inception 20 years ago. Once again the entrants were outstanding (though I confess the technicalities of some project went right over my head!). Can Gafuroglu’s winning project was entitled ‘Joint prediction and Classification of Brain Image Evolution Trajectories from Baseline with Application to Early Dementia Diagnosis’. Our industry is about solving problems and this project underlines the significance of what can be achieved by the smart use of technology by #smartpeople.
The buzz at the dinner was incredible and underlined the spirit of ScotlandIS – that of #community.Our Sopra Steria table was no exception, with a mix of SMEs, customers and advisors. Plus Alison McLaughlin – now on secondment to Scottish Government Digital as part of the Digital Fellowship Programme.
And, #trees. Lizzy Yarnold was an inspirational speaker on the evening and reminded us all of the importance of belief, ambition and team work. She spoke about a book “The Inner Life of Trees”: What they feel, how they communicate. A brilliant parallel to business life – the need for constant communication, mutual support and networking.
Well done to ScotlandIS. The Scotsoft conference has once again reinforced our Smart Young People, Our Community and that we are a well-connected forest.