You may have seen Gartner’s recent report identifying its top ten technology trends for government in 2020. It made for interesting reading and there are several on the list that are of particular relevance to Abavus and our customers.

Multichannel citizen engagement

I wrote at the start of the year about the importance of multichannel customer service and it seems like Gartner is in agreement that local government needs to offer a range of channels to citizens and enable them to communicate via the channels that they prefer.

We’ve seen more and more councils adopting this approach during the course of the year, introducing web chat functionality (both with bots and with real people) as well as making broader use of social media for two-way communication rather than simply as a channel for broadcasting council news. A 2018 survey showed that more than 50% of government website traffic came from mobile devices and this trend has only accelerated.

Enabling citizens to use their channels of choice has numerous benefits for all parties. For the citizen it offers a much-improved customer service experience. Rather than being forced into communicating at a time and through a channel of the council’s choosing, citizens are given the flexibility to communicate as they wish (the same flexibility that they are increasingly used to in their interactions with commercial organisations, incidentally).

From the council’s point of view there are clear savings to be had from channel shift and the associated efficiencies, whilst effective and well-designed chatbots can deal with many types of interactions entirely without human intervention, freeing up council staff to deal with the more complex interactions that only a human can handle.

Agile by design

In the past, local government IT tended to be fairly monolithic and unwieldy, slow to adapt and hard to change. The result has been a reliance on legacy systems that are no longer really fit for purpose. We’ve been saying for a long time that smaller IT vendors often offer a level of agility and flexibility that larger providers simply can’t match.

Now more than ever the fast pace of change means that local government CIOs need to ensure that the environment they create is nimble and responsive, able to adapt to new requirements and changing technologies as they come along. An agile-by-design approach is vital to ensure that local government has the adaptability that it needs to respond effectively to citizens changing needs and expectations.

Shared services 2.0

The Gartner report observes that many government organisations have tried to drive IT efficiencies through centralising and sharing of services, but often with limited effectiveness. It predicts that in 2020 the focus of this sharing will move from simply concentrating on cost savings to identifying opportunities for delivering high value business capabilities such as security, identity management and business analytics either across departments or between organisations.

At Abavus this kind of approach is right at the heart of what we do. The My Council Services platform has been designed from the ground up with these kinds of efficiencies in mind. The modular approach and move away from ‘line of business’ applications outlined in the Local Government Digital declaration (which we very much support) is exactly how the My Council Services suite of products are designed to be used. Our clients tend to start with a single application – waste management, food safety inspections, streetscene – and quite quickly realise that the same core technology that is working well for them in one area of the council can also be used to enable the same benefits in other areas too.

Digitally empowered workforce

Again, the importance of enabling staff to work in a digitally enabled environment is something we’ve been talking about for a long time. Digitally enabled staff tend to be more motivated and to feel more empowered and engaged. Additionally, giving the staff the tools they need to fully deploy digital solutions throughout all areas of the organisation tends to lead to very significant efficiency gains for the organisation itself as well as speedier service for citizens. It really is a win win option.