The Challenge

SAS Institute is the global leader in innovative analytics software and services, and its analytics software is used by most of the Fortune 500 and by customers at more than 83,000 sites globally.

SAS transforms data into insight and knowledge that enables governments to identify what’s working and fix what isn’t. SAS analytics help the UK Government to improve service delivery to citizens through their abilities to reduce costs and make decision making better and faster.

As part of its work with Government, SAS wanted to highlight its capacity to support the public sector reform programme in Whitehall. SAS has over four decades of experience working with the Government and trusted and used by more than 100 public sector customers across the UK, AprilSix Proof was tasked with developing a public affairs programme to share unique insights, experience and expertise at the highest levels in Government and Parliament.

The Solution

Thought leadership to unlock top-level Government contacts

Despite a tumultuous political period, the reform of the public sector and application of innovative technologies has remained a consistent priority. Pressure on, and public expectation of, public service remains high, and the need to achieve savings for the public purse means Government, led by HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office, are looking to advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to achieve huge improvements and efficiencies.

We worked with SAS to map out key targets in Government and opportunities where they could share their insight in order to help officials make the right choices with future tech procurement.

In the first year of the thought leadership programme, sharing SAS experiences, expertise and use case examples opened additional channels for constructive dialogue at the very top levels of Government – including newly formed parts of Whitehall focused on Artificial Intelligence. These direct approaches to senior officials and Ministers were supplemented by SAS policy contributions.

Parliamentary digital skills enquiryExample: SAS submission to Parliamentary Digital Skills Inquiry

One strand of this work, was to take the opportunity to submit evidence to relevant Parliamentary inquiries and official consultations on digital government and public sector reform.

In July 2018, the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons began its inquiry into Digital Government, including on the progress of Government digital services, how the UK compares with other countries and how well the Government Digital Service (GDS) has helped spread the use of digital services across Government, including promoting the use of new technologies and uses of data.

SAS contributed a 3,000 word submission in answer to the Committee’s questions, speaking as an authority with private sector insight on the challenge for Government. This submission was well-received, and on publication of the Committee’s report the SAS evidence was cited as a central contribution:

• SAS is repeatedly mentioned alongside and closely aligned to Deloitte and the Edelman Trust Barometer regarding societal distrust of the Government’s use of data.

• SAS is mentioned within the section on the positive performance and potential of Government Digital Service.

• SAS is a leading voice on the importance of political leadership at a Ministerial level on the reform agenda, supporting statements of senior officials responsible for driving the agenda forward.

The Results

The SAS contribution directly relates to the first of two recommendations of the Committee – that:

• The Government should introduce a ministerial digital champion in every department by the end of 2019 who has responsibility for using innovation and digitisation to transform the way their department operates; and

• GDS’s purpose should be twofold: to provide advice to departments when needed, but also to devise and enforce minimum standards consistently across Government digital services.

This submission is a classic example of the positive impact and profile SAS can secure through thought-leadership, sharing its insight; emphasising its role as a constructive partner to Government alongside our prestigious respondents. It shows SAS understands the challenges and opportunities Government is facing, and is ready to talk.