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by Alec Harley, Portfolio Director Devolved Government & Energy Leidos UK
20 June 2024
Associate Feature: Engineering Change

Partner content

Associate Feature: Engineering Change

What has been the greatest highlight for your organisation during the past 25 years? 
That is a tough question – there have been many. To have been part of the evolution of delivering digital public service for Scotland over the past 25 years gives me a great sense of pride. I could highlight many a Scottish Government programme we have been involved with. Our recent work on Warm Scots Welcome which helped deliver a state-of-the-art digital matching tool to identify temporary accommodation for displaced Ukrainians is truly inspirational. However, I would say our support for the Scottish Parliament IT systems stands out most for me. I take great pride when visiting parliament to know that we are there, quietly in the background keeping the infrastructure of parliament ticking. 

How has your organisation changed since 1999?
Leidos has heavily invested in Scotland since it launched its first office in 1988. In the period of the parliament, we have grown from a small engineering company of less than ten, to become part of a global technology company. Today, we have more than 1,400 people in the UK, many of whom are based in our UK headquarters in Glasgow. As we have grown, I am aware of the duty of care we have to our team here in Scotland. Investing in people and our community is hugely important to us and is at the heart of everything we do at Leidos, ensuring we nurture future talent and position the business to support the Future Skills and the Digital Economy Skills Action Plans.

How do you think your sector will evolve in the next 25 years?
At pace and if it’s anything like the past few decades, we’re in for quite a journey! I remember at the start of my career our technology investments were focused on hardware and then we transitioned to software. I feel that we are entering a similar period in our business where we are looking beyond software to AI. The advent of AI will change how we operate at all levels of business – from the interaction with our clients to the development of solutions and in-house developments available to the end customer. As we move forward, the interaction with AI, how we ‘ask the questions’ and indeed how we rely on the answers will be key – solve this and we will be in a different (and better) world.

I feel it’s important that the government continues to collaborate closely with industry on its technological adoption and how it realises its benefits to transform service delivery. 
Initiatives like the Scottish Government’s Digital Fellowship programme that brings digital leaders from industry to collaborate with the government on key programmes are a great example of this. Initiatives like this allow the creation of a supportive and dynamic environment that in turn helps to drive economic growth, innovation, and sustainability that will benefit us all.

What government strategy from the past 25 years has had the most profound effect (either positive or negative) on your organisation/sector/industry? 
The evolution of Scotland’s IT strategy has profoundly impacted our industry. Starting with the McClelland Report, which laid the groundwork for improved ICT infrastructure and efficiency in the public sector, followed by the comprehensive Scottish Government Digital Strategy that has driven digital transformation across the country. 

More recently, the Cloud First approach has revolutionised how we deliver and consume IT services, enabling greater flexibility, scalability, and innovation. Our commitment to agile working has allowed us to support these initiatives. As technologies such as AI continue to evolve, we remain dedicated to helping Scotland achieve its digital ambitions, ensuring we are at the forefront of technological advancements and public sector improvements.

This article is sponsored by Leidos UK 

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