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Realising your digital ambition: The time is now

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Imagine a world where we deliver our statutory duties cost-effectively, tailoring them to each citizen’s need. 

A world where we engage with citizens and service them through their channels of choice, a world where many of our engagements are automated therefore reducing the burden for citizens and our officers. One where we can easily help our local economies grow and prosper. And finally, let’s imagine a world where our officers can focus their efforts and resources on those who need them the most.

In a period where central government funding will be totally cut for many, delivering any of that without leveraging digital opportunities and operations is unthinkable. Demand for digital services from citizens is high, with Ofcom reporting 89% of adults access the internet and 59% of them complete government processes online, with growth in take-up by the over 65s.

This means digital transformation is high on the agenda of most local authorities, with bold moves being made by many. To name a few, the use of online automation to service benefits claims 24/7 at North Tyneside Council, Aylesbury Vale’s use of the Amazon Alexa as a gateway to council services, the use of digital video conferencing to provide services in rural areas and combat social isolation and lastly Enfield’s plans to use Amelia as an online artificially intelligent customer service agent.

But are these digital initiatives anomalies delivered by the few? Are many struggling to understand what digital means for them, or struggling to deliver end to end digital services and their predicted benefits? Or are you all on your way to exploiting digital opportunities for your council and citizens?

This is what we’re going to explore. We’re inviting councils to complete our Public Sector Digital Barometer to allow us to gauge the digital ambitions and progress of local government. Our digital barometer is a simple to complete online tool exploring digital transformation through the lenses of customer, culture, process, technology, skills and ambition. Please complete this as honestly as possible, you can choose to complete it anonymously or let us know who you are, the choice is yours.

Come February 2018, we will share the results with you which may help to answer some of your questions around digital ambitions, what progress is being made and what is holding back your organisation.

Rob Mettler, director of digital business, PA Consulting

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