A well known technology provider to the public sector in the UK, Civica, has launched a dedicated business line to help clients undertake their challenging digital transformation projects, following the acquisition of a number of companies over the past 12 months.
Civica Digital already makes up almost a quarter of Civica’s employee base and approximately a third of its revenues. It will help both public and private sector clients take on a range of digital projects, either through co-location of skills or by managing software builds for them.
A number of local authorities and central government departments, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department of Health, are Civica customers.
We got the chance to speak to Civica CEO Wayne Story this week regarding the announcement, where he said that the move was central to the company’s overall strategy. He said:
It’s all to do with our strategic direction with the company. Over the last 12 months we have been refining where we position ourselves around three core competencies. One is around our software capability, which we are well known for. The second was to build our digital platforms. The third is our outsourcing, managed service capabilities. This is really about setting our vision for the business for the future.
We’ve got about 4,000 employees and we have about 900 employees in the digital platform. So it’s a significant part of the business, and one we will continue to invest in. It’s circa £80 million in revenues, around 25-30% of our revenues.
A year in the making
Story explained that Civica has had a nascent digital business since its year end 2015, which he said was “progressing well and was a product based business”. A number of opportunities began to arise off the back of this, so over the past 12 months Civica has acquired more capability in-house in the form of a number of companies with government clients – including Asidua, WTG, IPL and SFW.
All of these companies are now integrated into the Civica core and fall under the ‘Civica Digital’ brand. Story said:
[These companies are] really the formation of our digital division. Over time we will migrate other parts of our business into the division, which kind of gives it some shape.
The whole point of Civica Digital is that it is now an integrated business. All the brands will disappear and they will all be part of Civica Digital, which is core to the way we take the business forward. They will all operate in the same way, they all have the same market opportunities.
Digital is one of those wonderful things, it means a lot of things to a lot of different people. We’ve got client opportunities both in the public sector, we’ve got them in the third sector and we’ve also got them in the private sector – typically the highly regulated environments. Because the skills are very specific, about engaging with a citizen or a customer, we can support both public and private organisations.
Civica Digital will provide the following services: business insights and analytics, digital software, automation and integration, application development and support, and cloud enablement. Story provided a bit more detail about these services, explaining that the service provided will all depend on what stage of the ‘digital journey’ the client is at. He said:
Effectively we do four things for clients. Firstly, we consult with them on their target operating model, on their transformation journey and their legacy software. A lot of our effort is working with the client from inception.
The second part is where we have existing products that are built for the client to adopt and speed up their transformation journey – we can implement those quite quickly. The third area is we work with clients where they are starting their transformation journey, they’ve got a vision to work to, have started building products and we will support them.
The fourth area is where they need specific skills and knowledge, we can also augment their teams we can put in some of our people to help them on their projects.
With asked about the challenges facing the new division, Story said that Civica is “well placed” in that it is large enough to be recognised as a significant player that can lead transformation projects, but also is small enough that they can be “a part of their world and not an imposed solution”.
Finally, I asked Story if Civica had seen any impact by the Brexit decision on its pipeline of business, with rumours circulating that the public sector is holding off on any significant spend whilst the fallout from the EU referendum hangs in the balance. However, Story said that Brexit could in fact be an opportunity for the group. He said:
Not specifically. We haven’t seen any noticeable change post-Brexit. I think what we will be seeing is that as we move towards Article 50 being triggered is that there will be more requirements for departments that we work with to have new technology, new solutions, new ways of engaging. So we do see a big opportunity there.
Civica is following in the path of some of the larger outsourcers and consulting firms, which have also launched ‘digital’ divisions following a number of acquisitions. The likes of Accenture and Capita have had success with their digital ventures, and it makes sense that Civica will follow suit. How this fits into the broader central government strategy around digital remains to be seen – we still away the much delayed strategy from the Cabinet Office, and as such, we are not sure where priorities lie. Time will tell.
Image credit - Images sourced via Civica