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City HallPwC has recently released findings from its annual survey, The Local State We’re In, which assesses the challenges facing local government and their responses to them, as well as looking at public opinion on the organizations capabilities.

Here, we’ve pulled out four of the lessons we learnt from the report:

Data Analytics is top of the agenda for CEOs and Local Government Leaders

A healthy 91% of the Chief Execs surveyed confirmed Data Analytics was an area which they were well equipped. This in fact was the most popular answer for this specific question, as other areas such as business intelligence (59%), supply chain management (55%) and information governance & records management (40%) fared less so.

While it is encouraging the leaders are confident in their team’s ability to perform in the data analytics world, the research also stated local government’s use of structured and unstructured data varies quite considerably. 71% of the Chief Execs agreed they were using structured data (e.g. information in government controlled databases), whereas this number drops to 33% when unstructured data (e.g. social media and data generated through search engines) is the focal point of the question.

As the consumer continues its drive towards digital and the connected world, the level of insight which can be derived through unstructured data, social media in particular, will continue to increase. Back in 1998 Merrill Lynch said 80-90% of all potentially usable business information may originate in unstructured form. This rule of thumb is not based on primary or any quantitative research, but is still accepted by some in the industry. Even if this number has dropped, there is a vast amount of information and insight which is being missed by the local government.

But data driven decision making isn’t

Throughout the industry, data driven decision making has been seen as one of the hottest growing trends, and also as the prelude to the introduction of artificial intelligence.

Despite the media attention such ideas are receiving, it would appear these trends are not translating through to local government. Only 41% of the respondents said their organization is using data analytics to inform decision making and strategy. It would appear local government is quite effective (or at least confident) at managing data, but not so much at using it for insight.

Digital Device Tablet Laptop Connection Networking Technology ConceptPublic is not confident in local government’s ability to embrace digital

Although leadership within the local authorities themselves are happy with the manner in which their organization has embraced digital, this confidence is not reflected by the general public.

76% of Chief Execs who participated in the research are confident in their own digital strategies, however only 23% of the general public are confident in the council’s ability to manage the transition through to digital. This is down from 28% in the same survey during 2015 and 29% in 2014. The findings could demonstrate the rigidity of government bodies, especially at a local level, as it would appear the evolution of emerging technologies is outstripping local government’s ability to incorporate these new ideas and tools.

There is also quite a significant difference in how the public and the Chief Execs view cyber security. While only 17% of the Chief Execs believe their organization is at risk from cyber threats, 70% of the general public are not confident local government will be able to manage and share their personal information appropriately. 2016 has already seen a number of high profile data breaches which could have an impact on the opinions of the general public. If tech savvy enterprise organizations such as TalkTalk cannot defend themselves, it may be perceived that public sector organizations are less likely to do so.

However, local government does have the backing from the public to invest in digital

The general public would not appear to currently have great confidence in the local government’s current ability to embrace the digital age however they have seemingly given their blessing for the local government to continue investments.

39% of the general public who completed the survey highlighted their preference for engagement with local government would be through a digital platform, as opposed to the 24% who would prefer the telephone and 28% who would rather engage in person. Unfortunately, while digital is the most popular option for engaging, only 37% were satisfied with the current digital access to local government, down from 38% in last year’s research.

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