Here are some things I’ve written that have been published either in market-specific press or on LinkedIn.
Back to the Future with Marty McFly
The rise of chatbots in local councils...what can we learn from Marty McFly? - GovTech Leaders
John McMahon from IEG4 discusses the role of chatbots in local councils - and asks how much difference the technology…
Newton’s 3rd Law and the Digital Offset Effect
How can you measure the success of digital services in local government?
(Image credit: Image Credit: Chombosan / Shutterstock) "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."…
The 3Ps of Digital Transformation
LocalGov.co.uk - Your authority on UK local government - Councils and Digital 3.0
After installing the iOS 12 beta this summer, I saw a notifcation alerting me that I should call into a conference call…
How to build a successful customer service strategy
Guest blog: How to build a successful customer self-service strategy
Here are my six recommendations to ensure self-service best practice for the future in local government. Mobile first…
Austerity is driving a customer service revolution
Austerity revolutionising customer service delivery in councils
Traditionally, the term "customer" was more commonly associated with private sector consumers. In recent years, we've…
Innovative or just iterative?
Be more dog
Back office suppliers that charge exorbitant prices for APIs and don’t invest in modernising these to be RESTful (in line with GOV.UK best practice) deserve to become irrelevant. Legacy system suppliers should be giving away APIs and proactively guiding their customers on how to integrate as much stuff with them as possible. They should not have a feudal attitude of seeking to own the entirety of their specialist fiefdom at the detriment of an organisation driving innovation.
In a council I work with, five separate back-office system providers have said they don’t want to integrate to the Council’s strategic digital system because they have a competing system. I think there is an irony in a back-office system provider thinking they do not want third party applications integrating to their own system. It’s narrow minded and nonsensical. They do not seem to see that the more a back-office system is integrated into the wider web of digital services, the more value it is perceived as offering and the more valuable said system will become to a Council.
It is a clear and present issue with legacy systems. Legacy systems’ relevance is entirely in their specialisms. They should only have a role if they’re feeding into the council’s wider strategy. A Council Tax system is a billing and recovery system, but its relevance is in its specialist ability to manage wards/precepts/parishes/bands and assurance compliance with the Local Government Finance Act etc. An Environmental Health system is another case management system, designed to ensure statutory returns are simple to complete through reporting and document creation. These legacy systems’ primary purpose is their specialism. However, as councils look to meet rising expectations and digital demands from customers these solutions have a vital role in completing a digital jigsaw. As well as their specialisms, they have the role of being a contributor to feed the conveyor belt of digital data into the digital delivery channels of both today and tomorrow. However, the legacy systems tend to be owned by the big beast suppliers to local government whose commercial strategies run contrary to enabling digital transformation at a local authority. Indeed, it seems their policies are rather to thwart it.
As I said above, legacy systems’ importance as a contributor of digital data for digital delivery increases proportionately to the number of interactions or people touched by it and the availability of integration options. Conversely, if legacy systems (or suppliers) don’t contribute (take their ball away) or make the process more difficult their relevance and legitimacy decreases rapidly.
But instead of recognising the potential of cementing their place in the delivery of better services to citizens, legacy systems supplier seem intent on making it difficult. One supplier said it had APIs and then it turned out they didn’t. Another supplier allowed a trial of their APIs only for them to be found out as horrendously lacking. Another said they were worried about their own IP. I mean COME ON…!
The positive news is change is afoot. For example, Yotta Alloy in streets, waste, parks and highways has entirely open RESTful APIs for every function of the application. Tascomi has the same in regulatory services and planning.
Moreover, these systems are providing triggers/listeners/web hooks to push out data when events take place that can be configured by council staff. Legacy systems suppliers need to realise that functions can be copied/delivered in new and better ways if needed without the hindrances of out of date software. Councils and nimble, smaller organisations want to be unburdened by barriers to digital delivery and innovation. It’s in the back-office suppliers best interests to be wiser, to be better.
They should be more dog.