George Osborne last week launched his spending review, calling for a further £20bn cuts to Whitehall budgets. The review, following the summer budget, calls for each unprotected department to model savings plans of both 25 per cent and 40 per cent of their budget.
The Chancellor outlines that “with careful management of public money, we can get more for less”, but the BBC’s economics editor Robert Peston said that what was being proposed would require a reinvention of some services taken for granted by the public; “this is the stuff of public-service reinvention, not efficiency”.
George Osborne’s review document says it will prioritise spending which promotes, “innovation and greater collaboration in public services” and “growth and productivity including through devolution within England” – along with “choice and competition…which drive efficiency and value for money”.
Clearly, the economic realities mean that the public sector must radically transform.
The question is how? The mechanisms central government suggest are devolution, productivity and growth – and the key enabler to all three mechanisms is digital technology.
In order to help advise the public sector how it might use digital to deliver transformation and meet the prioritised outcomes of the spending review — innovation, collaboration, growth and value for money — IT and business software and services provider, Agilisys, is producing a a series of three insights that will look to examine the following:
- DEVOLUTION: PLACE AS A PLATFORM
- PRODUCTIVITY: DIGITAL AS A FORCE MULTIPLIER
- GROWTH: WELFARE ECONOMICS, EMPLOYMENT AND ENTERPRISE
Working for both the public and private sector, Agilisys holds deep domain expertise delivering transformational services, in particular within local and central government, through a suite of citizen-centric technology products and centres of delivery excellence around the UK.
Leeanna Pitt, Senior Transformation Consultant at Agilisys, presents the first part of the series below, with the next two parts to follow over the coming weeks:
Part 1. Devolution: Place as a platform
George Osborne was clear in his ambition for devolved powers to localities in his Budget speech: “Let’s invest across our country…Let local people decide”. In the subsequent spending review, the chancellor asked all relevant secretaries of state to consider what they can devolve to local areas and where they can facilitate integration between public services.
Devolution of budgets, authority and power is perhaps the biggest opportunity for transformation in the public sector– a transformation in its role, the relationship with citizens and the way it operates. But is the public sector ready?
In order for localities to leverage the potential of devolution and become ‘whole place shapers’, infrastructure is needed to connect the local community, people, providers, social enterprises and businesses. This infrastructure is the ‘digital fabric’ which enables devolution, ‘knitting’ together communities in the digital space.
Infrastructure here is not an ‘IT’ systems requirement – bigger monoliths are not the answer. Digital leadership, thinking and agile supporting tools will be key to meaningful success for connecting communities. Solutions with flexible capabilities and the ability to track activity, patterns and emergent trends across geographical regions can provide an agile and dynamic ‘place as a platform’.
Place shaping happens when organisations have insight into their communities and the behaviour of citizens, not when they focus on internal structures and silos. Significant life events trigger contact with public services – birth, death, marriage, crisis, housing, and education. Leveraging value from these interactions is about connecting the dots – between parking and traffic management, skip services and planning consents or wedding venues and marriage licences. It’s about understanding customer need holistically and presenting value opportunities to shape behaviour.
Public Services already collect a vast amount of data on citizens, place and services. Utilising this data to drive insight and predict behaviour through trends and pattern analysis mean an organisation can optimise interaction value and shape citizen behaviour. This understanding means the public sector can use digital to shape the ‘whole place’. This ‘place as a platform’ could be a truly effective strategic place management tool, enabling data-led decision making.
‘Place as a platform’, therefore, is not a back office data warehouse. It’s not a CRM, it’s not a case work system, and it’s not an overly engineered IT construct. ‘Place as a platform’ is responsive, user centric and behaviour driven – it therefore has to be front end. It is a data driven, behaviour shaping tool, with the capability to serve, navigate and understand citizens across a connected network of systems and sectors. Digital software could be the tool to transform the relationship between government and citizen.
‘Place as a platform’ is the digital infrastructure for a ‘whole place’; promoting, developing and regenerating the offline world – driven by devolution, powered by digital.