Slower than expected progress on reducing our national budget deficit and national debt means public sector CxOs are not just looking for short-term quick fixes, essential as they are. They also need to help deliver longer term and more fundamental improvements to the way the public sector designs, operates and delivers its services. Endurance – and an unwavering commitment to do the right thing – will be required in the face of unrelenting opposition from some very well entrenched vested interests.

The CIO100 spotlights some of the CxOs leading public sector IT to deliver improved services with fewer resources. With health, central government and local government all represented, the list reflects the ‘tight-loose’ model described by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with the centre fixing things the centre is best placed to do and local agencies, who sit closest to the users and their needs, improving local delivery.

The current CIO100’s public sector technology leaders are erasing the image of the IT department as the biggest obstacle to progress. In its place, they bring a relentless user focus, acting as enablers and facilitators of meaningful change – driven by technological innovation and insight into users’ needs.

Yet technology itself is not the biggest challenge. CxOs need to become convincing communicators, helping their colleagues better understand its true potential. IT shapes the very way that organisations and the services they provide can be designed and operated, from inception onwards. The move to user-focused services has profound, disruptive, implications for many current organisational assumptions, structures and egos.

Estonia for example – a global leader in technology-enabled government – works on the assumption that data is acquired and maintained only once. New services make re-use of data rather than acquiring and storing them time and time again. The pointless duplication, fragmentation and replication of data across the UK’s public sector is both costly and a security vulnerability. It also makes our experience of public services unnecessarily frustrating, repetitive and complicated.

The challenge for public sector CxOs now is to ensure organisations move away from focusing on their own internal organisational structures to focus instead on the needs of their users. The CIO 100 demonstrates that we have public sector CxOs both ready and able to take on that bigger, and much more transformative, challenge.