Leading In a Digital World
Govciooutlook

Leading In a Digital World

By Peter Schofield, Chief Information Officer for Corporate Services, HMRC

HMRC is proud to be a world class enterprise, working to transform our customers’ experience to make it effective, efficient, and easier. Technology has transformed the way we do things and in a dynamic industry it’s crucial we stay agile – always looking out for whatever’s over the horizon and putting our customers first. But we can only do this by continuously anticipating our customers’ needs through a culture of technological innovation and experimentation. At HMRC, we have risen to this exciting challenge. We have a transformative diverse IT organisation and culture in which new ideas and ways of thinking are positively welcomed - where everyone ‘brings something to the party’.

"Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart and if you give them the tools, they’ll do great things with them"

HMRC is one of the largest tax authorities in the world, bringing in the money to fund UK PLC. As the UK’s tax, payments and customs authority we oversee the collection of £605.8 billion a year and serving 50 million customers, which are so vital for our economy and public services.

Our innovative technology has transformed the ease and efficiency of this massive operation for both us and our customers. In 2018, we did more online than ever before; 92 per cent of the country’s tax self-assessment returns were done online and 47 per cent of tax credit renewals. In total, 17 million UK citizens are now using a Personal Tax Account – more than ever before. Our innovative mobile app, which receives one million visits a month, can be logged into via facial or finger-print recognition. All our customer help lines use voice recognition and over 16 million transactions are handled by robotic automations.

All of this has only been possible through listening and understanding our customers through building a data culture. Insights have enable us to improve services making easier to use, more intuitive and accessible and, importantly, more cost-effective. Our DevOps approach means we can implement new approaches quickly, by collaborating, experimenting and not being afraid to fail fast and learn.

But it is important for us that we ensure our services are designed to serve all our customers and that they are business-led but technology enabled. We have created accessible collaboration tools for our IT teams encouraging them to develop and innovate new ideas. This has resulted in them building accessible software and seamless user journeys, including voice-activated home devices which offer further exciting possibilities such as document and text recognition.

All this can only be done by investing in and developing the best IT teams who combine the right blend of technical, commercial and financial skills. It is important to encourage and develop new talent that is confident, and welcomed, to challenge and innovate. At HMRC we do this. We have an extensive range of talent schemes, including apprenticeships, to attract the brightest and best young people to our roles. Our teams collaborate without boundaries, have new ideas, experiment and transform. It is only through doing this that we can be truly ready for whatever is on the business and tech horizon.

When you bring this altogether, HMRC has transformed into an organisation offering a world-class service for all our customers. But this has only been possible through good tech leaders that build teams who can usher in real new innovation. As Steve Jobs said: ‘Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart and if you give them the tools, they’ll do great things with them.’

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