Is your council’s data truly connected to the people you serve?
It’s a falsehood to say the purpose of councils is to provide essential services, infrastructure and urban development. So, what’s the truth?
Decisions and actions taken by councils are motivated by the goal of improving the wellbeing, convenience, prosperity and satisfaction of people.
Councils know this. They believe having an ear to the ground in their communities is critical to provide the right services, and support the right infrastructure and development initiatives. People’s needs and wants come first—in theory.
Yet, surprisingly few councils have a unified view of the individuals they serve. Information silos, underpinned by poorly designed and disconnected software, is a key culprit.
Let’s explore why that’s an issue that local government must overcome.
ReadyTech research finds Australians value customer centricity
When we asked a nationally representative group of Australians what they want councils to fund for the inaugural ReadyTech Customer Centricity Survey 2023, they agreed spending should focus on the basic services, facilities, buildings, infrastructure and transport systems that make communities more liveable, sustainable and inclusive.
However, customer service was the third most common response (included by 50% of respondents) from Australians surveyed about how councils should focus budgets in the next 3-5 years.
A considerable number of people also thought councils should invest in modernised systems (41%), digital services (28%) and better software (21%) in coming years.
The people relying on councils appreciate that great outcomes depend on whether a local government’s underlying systems help them to innovate and respond quickly.
Investing in customer-centric service models, powered by effective technology, is clearly a powerful way for councils to drive the most worthwhile urban development activities.
Successful ‘smart cities’ will be shaped by community data
A 2023 report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) highlighted the critical, yet underestimated, potential of data to help cities navigate through the unprecedented urban, climate and digital transitions on the horizon.
An imperative listed in the report is: Keep data connected to people.
Developing smart, sustainable cities of the future requires the input and support of communities affected, and the ability to skilfully aggregate, assess and act on community data insights.
The WEF report explains that to maintain their ‘social license’, cities need to:
- Safeguard, maintain and govern the integrity of personal data;
- Use data to communicate honestly with the community, clearly explaining pros and cons, anticipating biases and encouraging nuanced debate.
A unified customer view doesn’t underpin most council ERPs
While the local government sector is actively pursuing digital transformation, which often includes ERP upgrades, cloud migrations or deploying new platforms, these approaches rarely make customer centricity a priority.
For instance, many enterprise systems built for councils are centred around property data—as though rates transactions were the primary focus of local government. Another issue is councils with an amalgam of best of breed software that silos (and limits the use of) data from customer transactions and interactions in online portals.
Of course, the ability to reliably collect and process rates payments is important. But councils’ are driven by a much bigger cause—a desire to understand and meet people’s needs to create thriving and prosperous towns and cities.
Councils can’t benefit and satisfy the community through well-planned urban development without being able to integrate customer data into operations at every level.
That’s why we argue that customer centricity needs to start with your software, and in particular, the systems you use to engage and deliver online services to local residents.
The government that’s closest to communities, must first get close to each customer to make their investment in technology effective.