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How to Kick-Start the Digital Transformation of Your Local Government

Written by Ben Sebree

What is digital transformation, and what can it do for your local government?

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Free eBook: The Digital Transformation of Local Government

How to be an agent of change in your community.

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Whether yours is a city of one million or a village of 3,000 your current government delivery model is reaching its end of life. Widespread broadband, social media proliferation, and digital customer service expectations are revolutionizing the ways that consumers interact with brands—and the ways that citizens engage with their local government. Paper-based workflows, siloed data, and internally hosted single-function software systems no longer enable local governments to build transparency and trust among citizens.

To adapt to the modern needs of today’s digitally minded citizens, local governments need to accept the digital transformation of local government and begin the process of implementing the integrated solutions and cloud-based systems required to make it happen in their city, county, town, or village.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is the use of emerging, rapid, and continually evolving digital technology to solve problems. It often utilizes cloud computing, reducing reliance on user-owned hardware and is changing to include Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as smart refrigerators, smartwatches, and smart homes.

What does the latest digital transformation mean for local government? It means the days of phone calls and walk-ins are quickly becoming as antiquated as landlines and fax machines. It means citizens no longer think exclusively of engagement with brands, businesses, and public entities in terms of one-on-one personal interactions. It means they are thinking of obtaining information and submitting requests with a digital-first mindset.

It means your citizens—and your voters—are demanding new experiences and greater access to data, while your employees want greater work-related application convenience and the ability to utilize the systems and tools they need to accomplish their job functions from anywhere, on any Internet-enabled device.

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How to Digitally Transform Your Government Delivery Model

If your role in your administration means you must be the agent of change for digital transformation to ensure that your local government continually meets modern citizens’ needs and expectations, then follow these seven steps to take your first, broad steps toward the future.

  1. Understand Your Business Goals

As with all impactful administrative projects, start by framing a specific objective. Do not digitize for the sake of going digital. Ask yourself and your fellow department leaders if you are looking to improve revenue, simplify customer experience, or create efficiencies in inefficient processes. Understanding your objectives will help you create a goal-oriented roadmap.

  1. Measure Success

Once you have identified your primary objectives, ensure you have analytics capabilities and metrics in place to monitor measurable outcomes and success criteria so you can prove and celebrate success. For example, if your objective is to enhance service delivery through streamlined workflows, ask your departments to quantify how much time staff members spend on critical processes using existing resources. Recalculate their time once you have successfully implemented digital workflows. If you can prove reduced administrative time and faster citizen response, then you will demonstrate a positive return on investment (ROI).  Every municipality is different; ensuring that you set transformation objectives that make sense for your unique community is vital.

  1. Partner with IT

No digital transformation initiative can succeed without leadership from your Information Technology (IT) department. IT must partner with department leaders collaboratively, assessing their unique needs, and identifying software systems, platforms, and integrations to break down data siloes, mitigate data entry and redundancy, and help departments optimize today’s manually intensive administrative burdens.

  1. Understand Technology Enablers

Your IT leaders will need to map out the technology topology of your municipality as it exists today, taking note of integration points or forced silos. IT must ask itself the following questions:

  • Are APIs, databases, or out-of-the-box integrations available?
  • What existing systems are outdated, not integrateable, or otherwise a hindrance to digital transformation?

Depending on the needs of your citizens, budget, and infrastructure, evaluate IoT and intelligent automation capabilities. What could your municipality do with air pollutant data collected from smart sensors placed around your community? How could it improve lives with technology that pushes boil water notices to smartphones, smartwatches, and smart refrigerators?

  1. Assess Your Cybersecurity Needs

Every municipality, of every size, needs to have a strategy in place to safeguard its citizen and civic data. With the number of cyber hacks targeting local governments on the rise, municipalities must conduct every expansion of digital data and access with the utmost sensitivity to data protection and encryption. Analyzing your current infrastructure and creating a holistic view across these systems will allow you to maximize business value and create a roadmap for success.

  1. Set a Clear Vision for the Future, but Start Small

Accept that digital transformation cannot happen overnight. It is more than a software and system strategy. It is a mindset and civic commitment. To scale smartly, use agile principles to create quick wins at a minimal cost. Too often organizations try to undertake massive projects quickly and struggle to find success. Use quick wins to create evangelists within your municipality and across departments, helping the culture of change and progress. Having a clear vision allows you to focus and not get distracted with side projects that move you laterally instead of forward.

  1. Organize for Innovation

Rather than a single monolithic platform, platforms of the future will consist of a highly distributed ecosystem of services and technologies that are best-in-class. Such systems may be predicated on content as a service (CaaS) enablement by your content management system (CMS), a robust and highly integrateable customer experience product, a mass communication solution that can be used for emergency, internal and general communications, and a product that helps create efficiency with your agendas, meetings, and minutes. When such technologies are all leveraged and orchestrated together as part of a more significant platform ecosystem, you will realize incredible capabilities and a strong ROI.

To learn more about the digital transformation of local government, click below to download our free eBook.

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