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Local governments, as noted, have opportunities to change how they work using technology. Better personalization, effective identity management, integrated front, middle and back offices, and a more flexible workforce are among the rewards for those who do.

The overarching goal should include a sustained focus on designing and implementing an operating model that is truly informed by the customer’s needs in order to provide the digital services and capabilities — the processes, systems, connections and data — that will help optimize how government functions for each of its constituents and stakeholders.

We believe that this requires today’s organizations to look at their services from a value-chain perspective — ideally through the ‘eyes of the customer’ — rather than from a traditional siloed or departmental perspective that is clearly being rendered obsolete in the digital era. Modern technology and data infrastructure can unlock powerful new capabilities to provide an end-to-end view of the government ecosystem. At the same time, analytics across key data points will help drive timely and informed decisions across the spectrum of public needs and related interactions — asset placement, service requirements, customer feedback, budget prioritization, communications, event management, emergency services and beyond.

Being a data-led organization can help ensure that local authorities provide, in exciting new ways, what their customers and stakeholders require. Local government organizations possess very diverse and rich data sources compared to most sectors and organizations, but typically demonstrate limited insights into what to do with their abundant data. Many are overly purist in how they use data, often lacking trust in the data’s quality or integrity. Concerns can be resolved through validation capabilities that check data quality and improve it as needed. Implementing a robust data-management approach is key to cleansing, transforming validating and enriching data as required.

Forrester Consulting research commissioned by KPMG found enthusiasm for doing better in this area, with local authorities putting ‘insight-driven strategies and action‘ at the top of eight choices for the most important investment areas supporting customer strategy over the next year.

The sector can take advantage of existing models for managing data and analytics. One is to collect, correct, curate (make data workable and safe to use), question (carry out queries on the data), compute (carry out analytics), communicate (deliver results effectively) and then conclude by taking decisions based on those results.

Joining the dots across databases

Another issue is that data is often held in dozens or even hundreds of systems within a single local government. There is an opportunity to consolidate some of these and link data on people and organizations using a combined integration platform and master data-management model.

By joining various data points, local authorities can proactively reach out to communities and provide customers with friendly and timely reminders. For instance, data on children’s dates of birth can be used to invite parents to apply for school enrollment at the appropriate time. While there are privacy concerns and regulations about sharing data, many people assume that local authorities already have a single view of them. Many people’s lives are complex and local authority organizations can helpfully do some of the linking within the limits of data protection laws.

That said, just 38 percent of local government organizations surveyed believe they are effectively curating a wide variety of data that will provide them with a ‘360-degree view’ of their customers, according to Forrester Consulting research commissioned by KPMG.

Aside from technology and data, redesigning services around customers and their needs also involves changes in language and practices. Some of this means replacing local government jargon such as ‘I need an adult social-care assessment’ with real-life language like ‘I need help getting dressed and cooking meals.’ It can also mean changing the way the organization is structured. 

The excerpt was taken from the KPMG report entitled The future of local government.