Guidance

Integrate and adapt technology

Your technology should adapt to future demands and work with existing technologies, processes and infrastructure in your organisation.

To meet point 9 of the Technology Code of Practice your plans must show how your technology project or programme integrates into your organisation.

If you’re going through the spend control process you must explain how you’re doing this.

How integration helps your programme

Good integration means making sure your new technology works with legacy solutions without limiting your ability to adapt to future demands or upgrade systems.

Your programme will benefit from:

  • less risk to your infrastructure as integration planning will discover compatibility gaps in the new technology
  • less downtime on your regular processes when you upgrade or amend them
  • systems which enforce built-in redundancy of services, minimising single points of failure
  • lower long-term support costs

Fitting new technology into your organisation

Each organisation’s technology and infrastructure will have services and issues that are unique. But there are some common elements to consider when fitting new technology into your current or legacy system, including:

  • the coordination between your organisation’s IT operating model, the different business areas and their processes, governance, service support and service delivery
  • how the new technology will work with your service management
  • what skills and capabilities your organisation needs to deliver, support and continuously improve the new technology you’ll purchase

Read how the Department for Transport’s Chief Architect has created a Digital Design Authority to help integrate new technology with their current technology.

To optimise systems integration consider:

  • adopting a continuous integration model so you can solve smaller issues iteratively
  • designing your system using independently developed components that can easily work together
  • building a system architecture early in the program to describe your current or future system and mapping hardware and software components
  • defining a configuration management process
  • doing component-level testing to make sure integration is possible
  • doing regular integration and stress testing in your development environment to track progress and make sure the system remains robust

If you have chosen to use a systems integrator you should make sure they meet all of your requirements.

Meeting user needs with emerging technologies

A number of government organisations are using or investigating emerging technologies. If you’re thinking about introducing emerging technology to your infrastructure, you should make sure it meets user needs. You’ll need to investigate alternative mature technology solutions thoroughly to check if this is the case.

Your emerging technology programme will also benefit from checking:

  • with a GDS senior technology adviser about the cost implications and whether a mature technology better suits your needs
  • whether other organisations across government are using or investigating the same emerging technology
  • whether your organisation has the skills and resources to manage the technology
  • what would happen if the emerging technology fails or is discontinued
  • any privacy implications
  • any security implications

You can find guidance on choosing technology for services here, including how to adopt new technology.

Examples of emerging technologies around government

‘Emerging technologies’ is a broad term for a range of tools and techniques that are at different stages of development. Examples of emerging technology include:

  • artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • distributed ledger technologies (DLT)
  • quantum computing

But although emerging technologies are sometimes categorised together, some are more mature than others.

Several departments are already using artificial intelligence or machine learning in different ways. For example, GDS is using machine learning to process large amounts of data to aid human decision-making. And Oxford City Council is leading a group of local authorities in a joint discovery on how chatbots and AI might help to solve service design problems.

If you are considering using artificial intelligence, read the guidance on using artificial intelligence in the public sector.

Bodies like the Food Standards Agency and Land Registry are undertaking discoveries into DLT to understand if the technology is suitable for public sector use. DLT offers great promise, but it is unclear where the technology might offer government significant improvements over other types of infrastructure.

Some government bodies are also funding research into quantum computing. This technology is in the theoretical phase and the government is unlikely to use this technology in the short term.

Join communities of interest

You can share your experiences and find out more about what other government departments are doing in these areas on cross-government Slack.

You can also share knowledge about these technologies with colleagues in other parts of the Civil Service using the:

You can read more background about emerging technologies that has been published by government bodies. GDS will publish more detailed technical guidance as best practice emerges across government.

You can contact your GDS senior technology advisor at gdsapprovals@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk to discuss more about whether an emerging technology solution might be right for your organisation.

Published 6 November 2017
Last updated 13 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. Addition of a section on emerging technology

  2. First published.