As with many sectors, local government had to move quickly in response to covid. They needed to build resilience while dealing with an extremely uncertain operating environment.
The need to react has accelerated technological changes that were previously incomprehensible and many years away. The way people work and how people interact with council services has significantly changed and moved digital.
Simmons (2022) found that digital transformation is rapidly disrupting economies, societies and how governments operate. Additionally the public sector is being forced to rethink how it serves its constituents alongside demands for efficiency, service quality, simplicity, transparency and accountability.
Although covid accelerated digital transformation, the key drivers were already present including demand for seamless and personalised digital customer experiences, cost management with service demands increasing as budgets stay the same and public sector talent shortages.
People are increasingly expecting seamless customer experiences. Customers have access to a wider range of technologies, are better informed and want to use technology that they have in their hand (Cook, 2014). The pursuit of novel experiences combined with a growing number of devices, digital services and information sources is giving customers a sense of empowerment (Lai, 2016).
This demand for seamless digital customer experience is also seen in the public sector. Local governments have a diverse community/customers to deliver to. Customers expect personalised seamless digital services which was only heightened during covid related lockdowns.
Financial sustainability has become more of a priority as service demands increase while budgets stay the same. Efficient and agile service delivery is required alongside data to support decision making.
Investing in digital tools can result in significant cost savings and drive growth. Digitisation reduces costs by automating manual, time-consuming inefficiencies so your staff can utilise their time more efficiently.
For example StellarGovt reduces admin time by 90% by streamlining processes of creating agendas, collating council meeting documents, taking minutes, assigning tasking and distributing council papers.
People are the key to the success of all organisations.
With talent shortages for councillors, councils need to offer benefits of a flexible working environment. Flexible and agile workplaces will assist in improving councils ability to attract and retain talent.
Niemi (2020) found that digitisation is a key strategy leveraged on attracting and recruiting quality talents. Additionally, research by Forrester Consulting found that council digitisation empowers employees with a greater sense of purpose while bringing them closer to the communities they serve.
As the saying goes, ‘We should never waste a good crisis.’ Covid triggered digital transformation and innovation that has led to change and improvement. As councils work towards recovery and planning for the future, digitisation can improve citizen experience, save money while attracting and retaining talent as councils navigate towards a more sustainable and agile future connecting and supporting local communities.