The year 2020 will mark a tipping point in councils’ digital transformation, says Civica’s group business development director
After a decade of battling against constantly moving fiscal targets, political shifts, demand from digitally savvy end-users and those still living in an analogue world, I believe that 2020 will mark the tipping point for many local authorities in their transformation to becoming digitised, consumerised operations.
We’ll see local services, such as social, leisure and healthcare, integrate under the council umbrella to offer a seamless journey and experience. Purchasing facilities, such as a parking permit, will be as simple as placing grocery orders online and selecting a delivery slot. This consolidation is vital, not only to improve user experience but also for the public purse.
Local authority leaders need to be developing a long-term strategy now to make this transition smooth – not just by investing in the right infrastructure but also by creating the right culture.
- Put user experience at the heart of every decision – It sounds simple but when your business is people, it’s essential. Many have been attempting to copy the successes of the retail sector. NHS doctors in Devon have been improving their bedside manner and staff morale with help from the Institute of Customer Service award-winning John Lewis.
- Build a Think Yes culture – Give employees in all parts of the business the freedom to be trusted to exercise their professional judgment. Allow them to try new ways of working and support them if they fail. A working environment that welcomes brave decisions and unusual thinking, whether it works first time or not, has been key to the success of many household names. Mark Zuckerberg’s guiding philosophy, the “Hacker Way”, openly encourages his Facebook employees to “make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time”.
- Design a business model which supports this – and use technology to automate as many simple processes as possible. Staff can use this new-found time to think strategically and creatively, as well as to build stronger and more personal relationships with end-users to provide a more efficient range of services. Hackney LBC adopted our unified environmental and waste management system to this effect, saving over £200,000 in the process.
- Find the right partner – To develop such a refreshed business model, build the necessary foundations and deliver the service on a like-minded footing. Traditional contracting models will need to adjust for this to work, allowing for a much more collaborative working relationship and cultural knowledge sharing. Secondments and formal job-shadowing can also be incredibly valuable.
Paul Bradbury, group business development director, Civica