Calum Shepherd, Head of Digital Strategy, Scottish Government

Written by Alan Robertson on 6 October 2015 in Feature

For 100 days, Connect is running through our Tech 100 for 2015, profiling the key figures driving the digital agenda in Scotland

Calum Shepherd (@calumshepherd)

Job Title/Organisation: Head of Digital Strategy, Scottish Government

What does your role involve?

It evolves on an ongoing basis, which can be both very demanding and rewarding at the same time. When joining 18 months ago I had a focus on our approach to publishing, information architecture, search and analytics. The main bits I am taking forward at the moment are: 

  • product growth so we reach as many people as possible
  • introducing programme and product performance measures so we know if we are delivering value
  • introducing a performance platform, inspired by GDS (Government Digital Service) to support transparency and service improvement

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

I think that we are at a convergence now where communications, change and technology have all come together under the banner of digital. It’s a huge challenge for traditional organisations to tie all these things together to present a coherent, modern digital vision to their users.

It’s something we are going to face on a daily basis in our own environment but also out there in the wider public sector. 

In addition, beginning to think about our method for collecting service performance data is the next big thing. We have tried this exercise before and it wasn’t as successful as we hoped. So, we’ve learned from that and I have now slimmed things down drastically to help keep it as lean as possible.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you've undertaken?

I think the work we did on the alpha of mygov.scot and how quickly we turned it around was the most rewarding. We didn't get the coverage we wished for but there were good reasons for that at the time. We have come a long way since then, though, and I am massively proud of what the team continues to achieve, be it our work on user experience or our ability to report on robust data to improve the product.

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

I don’t think that there are any easy answers. I know are lot of people are doing some fantastic work in helping people get on with basic digital skills - so I’ll refrain from guessing. It’s tough.

Which new technology excites you the most?

I’m keen to see how wearables continue to mature. I’m hoping that the barrier to adoption lowers and we begin to see devices which are accessible to those who will truly benefit. Wearables which monitor their owners health, or alert people when they stray far from home are a real interest for me in the health space. 

What's your favourite app and why?

You wouldn’t have caught me saying this 12 months ago, but I’ve fallen for Evernote. I’ve heard people say it time and time again, but it really isn’t just about taking notes. It offers so much more - embrace it. 

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

I think GDS have helped enable a movement that is really starting to ramp up at the moment, both in the UK and in governments across the US, Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand. I can’t get enough of their early discovery work and the work of people like 18F in the States. Well done. 

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