Local government organisations have unprecedented opportunities to transform how they work using today’s game-changing technologies. Better personalisation, effective identity management, integrated front, middle and back offices and a more-flexible workforce can be among the rewards for those who do.
The overall goal should include a sustained focus on designing and implementing an operating model that is truly informed by the customer’s needs in order to provide the digital services and capabilities – the processes, systems, connections and data – that will help optimise how government functions for each of its constituents and stakeholders.
Today’s organisations need to look at their services from a value-chain perspective – ideally through the ‘eyes of the customer’ – rather than from a traditional siloed perspective that is being rendered obsolete in the digital era. Technology and data can unlock powerful new capabilities to provide an end-to-end view of the government ecosystem. At the same time, analytics across key data points will drive timely and informed decisions across the spectrum of public needs.
Being a data-driven organisation can help ensure that local government agencies provide, in exciting new ways, what their customers and stakeholders require. Local organisations possess extremely diverse and rich data sources compared to most sectors – but typically demonstrate limited insights into what to do with their abundant data.
Forrester Consulting research commissioned by KPMG found enthusiasm for doing better in this area, with local authorities putting 'insight-driven strategies and action' at the top of eight choices for the most-important investment areas supporting customer strategy over the next year.1
Another issue is that data is often held across numerous and diverse databases and systems. There is an opportunity to consolidate some of these and link data on people and organisations through data platforms, using a combined integration platform and master data-management model. By joining various data points, governments can proactively reach out to communities and provide customers with friendly and timely reminders.
That said, just 38 percent of government organisations surveyed believe they are effectively curating a wide variety of critical data that will provide them with a ‘360-degree-view’ of their customers, according to Forrester Consulting research commissioned by KPMG.2
For an instructive example of what some local authorities are ambitiously pursuing to reshape services for the digital era, we can look to the UK’s Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, a unified local government formed in 2019 by the merger of three organisations. The council is in the process of creating a ground-breaking local transformation program that it says will establish the foundations for ‘a sustainable, digitally led future’ for the BCP council by ‘focusing on what matters most to our customers and adds the greatest value to their lives.’
The council is putting automation and enterprise-wide solutions ‘at the heart’ of a redefined local-government organisation that is fully connected across front, middle and back offices. As Graham Farrant, the chief executive of the BCP council has noted: “Our operating model builds a digital future for the council and our customers based on the foundations of strong data and insights to shape our services and support for our communities.” He added, “This is consistent with our Smart Place agenda, where our consortium approach is facilitating digital solutions that benefit society and communities both socially and economically.”
Also in the UK, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham consolidated 17 separate teams into one community-solutions team, allowing staff to support citizens to access multiple services with a single view of their data.
Other local governments organisations are working to transform their services for the future. Leaders of four district, borough and city councils within the UK county of Cumbria have developed a strategy for proposed changes under a ground-breaking Local Government Reorganisation initiative that could see them operate collaboratively in new ways. And in Birmingham, UK, city council there has launched a Finance Improvement Program that maps out a local change journey to improve its financial management and sharpen its focus on “getting the basics right” within Finance to enhance operational efficiency and public service.
In Australia, meanwhile, Liverpool city council in New South Wales has developed a digital transformation program for its operations, and the City of Port Phillip has followed a ‘Connected Council’ initiative to evolve its customer and IT strategies, and improve its core systems and processes to achieve data integration.
Some local authorities are ‘going back to school’ to enhance customer centricity and results in the classroom. Municipal leaders overseeing the Pimpri Chinchwad neighborhood in India’s city of Pune have undertaken a creative initiative to use data-based insights and decision making to monitor teacher performance and student learning levels.
But while many local organisations realise that technology can help them focus on their customers and drive real progress, relatively few have articulated how to strategically develop their capabilities more broadly in technology, data, processes and customer strategy. As a result, this is an area where there is much ground still to cover. As our research with Forrester Consulting reveals, for example, just 44 percent of organisations say they are leveraging the right mix of technologies to effectively fulfill their analytics and customer-insight requirements.
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