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Government Digital Strategy

How IT can transform local government digital strategy


Hitachi Solutions > Blogs > 2019 > 08 > How IT can transform local government digital strategy

Local Authorities find themselves caught in an unenviable situation, in respect of public expectations for 21st-century Digital service delivery. It is difficult for authorities to avoid comparisons between themselves and the private sector, where customer expectations around service delivery are sky-high.

The public sector needs to take advantage of technology that can boost productivity without pushing their already tight budgets. This is where a local government digital strategy is vital to not only meet but go beyond the expectations of the public.

Digital leaders like Amazon, EasyJet and HSBC have invested tens, if not hundreds, of millions of pounds into their digital IT strategies, delivering exemplary services as a result. Local governments face a very different scenario. They cannot be expected to invest that amount of money in solving their digital IT woes, due to central government-imposed budget cuts and limited resources. But the right digital strategy and technology tools can transform local authorities and set them up to succeed in the digital era.

The IT behind local government digital strategy

Local government may be hesitant to commit to digital technologies. Councils have traditionally deployed IT at the departmental level, creating multiple disparate solutions across the authority. Over time – as delivery methods, people, technology and councils themselves inevitably change – those systems stop being used efficiently or to their maximum potential.

The most obvious example of this is the move from on-premises to cloud-based IT.

Many long-standing local authorities can see great returns if they start on their digital transformation journey. It may seem like a leap of faith, but the successful transformation comes from the proper planning and correct technology. Once you can sort those, the rest becomes much easier.

The following are some of the most simple and effective ways local authorities can achieve digital transformation:

  • Mobilising the workforce

By storing your data and workloads digitally in the cloud you provide your employees with information they can access outside the office, at any time, from wherever they are.

  • Single view of the customer

Gain a holistic view of the customer and their needs. Instead of just responding to individual service requests, employees can understand how to better serve customers, meeting and even exceeding their expectations. 

  • Connected data and systems

A single digital platform connects disparate solutions and data across departments. Connected data is presented in dashboards for a more comprehensive view of everything from citizen cases to roadworks and faults. Better connected data leads to quicker and improved decision-making.

  • Artificial intelligence, bots, and cognitive learning

Robotic technologies are paving the way for significant reductions in staff overheads, automating the repetitive elements of transactional service delivery. Staff become freed up to spend more time on higher-value work that requires human interaction and decision-making, such as casework.

  • User Adoption

Communicating best practice is essential – it empowers workers to take control of the processes they use every day. Instead of it being the role of the IT supplier to help local government employees use digital tools, your staff can own the solution and maximise its potential.

A local government digital strategy, in practice

Shropshire Council is a unitary authority, having the widest scope of services of any type of council. Shropshire Council needed to replace its legacy on-premise CRM system which had become inefficient, siloed and not fit for purpose.

Shropshire, like all other UK councils, needed to cost-effectively manage public contact into the council through multiple channels. They wanted to achieve this while creating a platform for future development to help meet the growing needs of the business, rather than buying a myriad of IT solutions for different tasks. They chose Hitachi Solutions to implement a single, customised, Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform to achieve their goals.

Hitachi Solutions helped Shropshire council:

  • Implement, deploy and use a fully-functional contact centre solution for environmental services.
  • Create specific line of business applications in Microsoft Dynamics 365, including complaints, FOI, member enquiries and schools traded support services.
  • Provision a citizen account to manage personal details and view case status and history using Dynamics365 portals.
  • Support the upskilling of in-house staff.

This resulted in:

  • All customer contact is now handled in a consistent and structured way. The council have better quality data and better insight into service and operational performance.
  • A significant reduction in avoidable customer contact (e.g. multiple calls from different customers regarding the same incident). This has freed up employees’ time to deal with more important case types and provide more proactive support for customers.

Turning the tables for local government

A great opportunity has arisen for UK Local Government to change their mindset on IT. Councils that adopt cutting-edge technologies and successfully drive user adoption can begin to see IT as an asset to helping them achieve digital transformation, rather than as a costly liability in the general ledger.

It is time to stop merely hoping that technology will fulfil its capability. Local authorities can take a proactive approach by committing to a digital strategy. With connected IT systems and data, a single view of the customer and more productive employees, local government can deliver better service to their citizens and gain the recognition that it deserves from the community it serves.

To find out how we can help you put together an efficient and effective digital strategy, get in touch with us today.

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Tim Kidd

Tim Kidd joined Hitachi Solutions in 2018 with 23 years experience of working within Public Sector services.
With roles in Microsoft’s Public Sector Division, and Local Government as Head of service, he now supports organisations with programme delivery and strategic decision making.
In his role his mission is to enable transformational change, streamline operations, address budgetary pressures and improve the lives of citizens, businesses and employees.

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