I recently keynoted Amazon Web Services’ EME Public Sector sales community awayday, as part of our ongoing partnership with AWS. There were over 600 people on the call from all over EMEA.

The talk invited delegates to consider the unprecedented possibilities for delivering social value that are open to major cloud service providers, in helping to transform the post-pandemic public services landscape. Drawing on Jeff Bezos’ comment that the present Amazon would not exist without the foresight of previous generations’ infrastructure-building activities (roads, telecoms), I pointed out that AWS has the potential ability to safeguard our future public services – by helping them to streamline and automate standard functions like payments, licensing, registration, HR, finance, case management, etc. If we could encourage our 650 NHS Trusts, 430 councils 43 police forces, etc to standardise on this ‘back end’ stuff – like the ‘Heart FM’ model, for example – we could create a national or even global ‘digital commons’ that could power informed, citizen-centred, and sustainable public services for decades to come, diverting billions to the front line where it counts most.

I ended the talk by offering two challenges. First, I asked, “are you a technology or an infrastructure company?” Second and relatedly, “Are you having the right conversations with your customers?”