With over 25 years' experience working in the Communications Technology industry, Paul Morgan (Account Director at Modality Systems), reflects on the challenges and opportunities new technology brings to the Public Sector, and discusses five key ways to drive cultural change 'from the top down'.
I have been privileged to work in the Unified Communications industry since the word was first invented. In this time, I have enjoyed participating in a number of ‘technology waves’ that assist in solving business problems. Irrespective of the available technological solutions, challenges in the Public Sector (and particularly in Local and Regional Government) have always revolved around doing more with less, in order to serve their local communities.
As we move into 2018, workforces are becoming more mobile and agile than ever. Entire industries have been disrupted by digital technology – reshaping both customer and employee expectations - making it critical for businesses to innovate and evolve. Cloud adoption is no longer an option, it’s an essential part of business growth and longevity.
With the rising pressure to meet service delivery demands, surmounted by low funding, environmental regulations and the uncertainty around Brexit, cloud technology offers many benefits to the Public Sector. These include reduced administration, scalable data centres, increased productivity, and mobility - helping to reduce carbon footprints and transport costs. It also enables organisations to downscale expensive premises. Trusted partners can be brought on board to reduce operational responsibility with managed services and there are various cloud models to meet individual needs.
Despite being one of the slowest industries to digitally transform, Public Sector adoption rates currently stand at 82%, up from 62% in 2016 (Cloud Industry Forum, 2017). With this dramatic surge in confidence, what’s holding late adopters back? In a recent report by Microsoft, budget constraints, slow decision-making and lack of agility in IT infrastructure were listed as the top three barriers to digital transformation in the Public Sector. Concern over privacy also continues to be an inhibitor. At a Socitm AGM I attended in January, however, the focus for Local and Regional Government had shifted to user adoption and cultural change, and there was great awareness of the need for project execution to be driven ‘from the top down’.
“What really sets the more successful transformations apart . . . is the involvement of frontline employees and their managers.” - McKinsey & Company, 2017
Lack of confidence in new technology undermines its value, and with increasing pressure on organisations to justify return on investment, a strong user adoption program is essential. Last year, a study by HCL Worldwide revealed a great gap between digital strategy and execution, at a global level. Whilst 70% of businesses had a digital strategy, only 10% had a deployment plan – this can be catastrophic for transformation projects, and it is no surprise that without support ‘from the top’, there are repercussions down the line.
So how can CEOs and Senior Management prepare for and manage the challenges they will undoubtedly face? The key to success relies on a strategic user adoption and cultural change program, ensuring that from the moment new technology is deployed, people are using it and benefiting from it.
Here are my five top ways to drive cultural change in Local and Regional Government:
1. Profile your users
Minimise disruption and encourage innovation by clearly defining user needs, what technology would work best for them and why.
2. Create an infrastructure that works for you, with a multi-agency approach
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, so be sure to establish clear business drivers and goals before setting out to make dramatic changes to your environment.
Another key component of your transformation should be collaboration with partners. Local authorities that implement a ‘multi-agency’ approach (enabling them to cross-collaborate with local amenities, such as schools and local Police, as well as councils and external partners) will greatly decrease time spent resolving IT issues, increase energy for helping their communities and streamline the processes of sharing important information. This is a strong solution for organisations worried about lack of IT skills.
3. Be confident about your communications environment
By being aware of issues that may arise, you can avoid a negative impact on user experience. You wouldn’t build your house on sand - deploying new technology is no different. I highly recommend an Impact Assessment before deploying Skype for Business, for example.
4. Create a training and user adoption program
Make sure users are engaged and that they understand both how to use the technology and the added benefits it offers them. This can be achieved with regular training and by ensuring support is available during the transitional period.
5. Encourage ongoing enablement
Once your workforce gets comfortable using new technology, progressive users will find new ways to utilise it. Be prepared and flexible to develop a fresh approach to using your technology – this way, you’re getting further value out of your investment.
If you are an organisation in Local and Regional Government looking to move to the cloud or change the way you collaborate, do get in touch. I would be delighted to discuss the vision you have for your organisation, and how our experts can help you build a successful roadmap.
Account Director | Modality Systems
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