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On Wednesday, 29th November, I was privileged to be one of the hosts for ‘Transforming Regulation’, an event run by Hitachi Solutions and Microsoft at the Microsoft London HQ in Paddington. 

The event was attended by over 25 senior government stakeholders from 13 different organisations, covering many different manners of regulation, inspection and licensing. Also in attendance were speakers from Microsoft and Hitachi Solutions who helped present the day, participated in group discussions and presented on topics covering various areas of digital transformation, data and AI.

A journey of reflection

We were hugely lucky to have Gillian Pratt, Chris Cope and Tim Skaptason from the Environment Agency as the headline presenters. They shared their extraordinary journey to design, deliver and transform the regulatory services delivered by the Environment Agency. 

The attendees were taken on a journey reflecting on where they are now, their plans for the future and how they intend to deliver against them. They have clearly been thinking about who their users are, with clearly defined ambitions. These ensure what they deliver as part of this programme is right for the citizens of the UK, the people and organisations they regulate and the Environment Agency itself. To quote their presentation, “User Centred Design is just how we work.” 

When looking at their ambition, they shared how the Environment Agency delivers regulatory services and platforms that are modern, well designed and led by data-driven intelligence. They also have a view that services should be self-service where possible for the end user and to seek new approaches for the tasks of regulation. 

 The Environment Agency is able to test and learn new regulatory approaches, such as digital twin capability to take an integrated, predictive approach to environmental catchment planning across multiple sectors.

Chris Cope
Digital Programme Director

Environment Agency’s digital evolution

The Environment Agency has taken an approach to this task by making great use of the evergreen technologies available from Microsoft to build a software platform that from “behind the scenes,” gives users a seamless interaction with data from across the regulatory platforms.  

At the heart of the various applications’ platforms, they are building is the Regulatory Data Platform, which enables faster and deeper insights into their regulatory data. Thus, enabling the delivery of a single platform for all data insights, breaking the restrictions of the existing data silos that to date have provided a poor user experience, which made it difficult to provide meaningful Business Intelligence and has been a blocker for innovation. 


Hitachi Solutions and Microsoft discussions

Following this excellent presentation, the Environment Agency team were joined by Hitachi Solutions to hold a panel discussion. During the discussion, the panellists answered questions from the floor covering areas such as where to start on such a huge undertaking and how to build the business case to the challenges of consolidating multiple legacy applications into one single platform. They also discussed how to get the most from your data when it may be a combination of structured and unstructured data from many sources. 

After the coffee break, we were joined by Andrew Allen from Microsoft, who provided an engaging presentation on “Why AI and Why Now”. This presentation gave the audience an unusual perspective of AI, diving into some entertaining uses for AI, Microsoft’s approach to responsible AI and some mock-up of customer use cases that Andrew has produced to showcase the technology for his customers. 

Following this was a group discussion where I asked each organisation to answer four questions, explaining their organisation and what they deliver to citizens, articulate their level of digital regulatory maturity, define the biggest challenges from a regulatory perspective and to share what they think they could or should be doing to overcome these challenges!  

The answers to these questions were both as expected and surprising in equal measures! Data was, of course, mentioned by most as something they wanted to get more value from, as was managing risk and increasing digital maturity. However, whilst AI is obviously the hot topic on everyone’s minds, the fact that many people in attendance had meaningful examples of how AI could help their organisations without just saying OpenAI or ChatGPT was great to hear! 

Data and AI in regulation

Ed Pikett, Director of Central Government at Hitachi Solutions, then presented an interesting and very different session on “Enabling Transformation Through Data.” He shared how we need to have a better understanding of data, try to novel new ideas to solve a problem and how Government should use data from multiple sources to explore the true root cause of a problem. 

The final session was titled “The Opportunity for AI Within Regulation” and presented by the AI Capability Lead from Hitachi Solutions, Jack Murphy. Jack firstly simplified AI for the audience explaining its history and the different ways customers can use AI to identify new business value and opportunities.  

The presentation then moved on to the importance of having an AI strategy in place, how to define a solution path to help implement AI use cases into production and how the foundations implemented for an AI project matter, ranging from security, data and which AI model to use. 

Overall, the feedback on the event has been very positive, with a lot of enthusiasm on follow up sessions around Case Management, Data Platforms and AI. There was also a lot of reflection on putting the user at the heart of everything and how Design Sprints can help shape the requirements and set a project up for success. 

Watch out for the follow up sessions coming early in the New Year, with Data being at the top of the list! 

For further information, please get in touch with our experts here.  

James Lear

Author Spotlight

James Lear

As a Business Development Director for Central Government, James helping customers deliver outcomes using Microsoft products to transform how they deliver services using business applications, data, AI and cloud services. With a wealth of industry knowledge and experience across Central and Local Government, Defence and Finance Sectors. James delivers services across the digital ecosystem ranging from infrastructure solution design, innovative solutions using cognitive services and Enterprise Service Management.