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Managing change is crucial for the local government sector in 2021

Technology will be key to meeting citizens’ expectations in 2021, writes Brett Barningham – as will change management.

Brett Barningham

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many local councils to quickly change online systems and processes.

Those who invested in digital citizen engagement and field force mobility before the pandemic reaped dividends through greater engagement with citizens compared to those who had not.

In 2021, it will be essential for boards to prioritize expanding the digital toolbox and the ways in which they engage with citizens, engage their field workers with cloud-based technologies that enable them to work from anywhere at any time, and reduce service costs through process optimization and digital improvements.

By switching to cloud-based technologies, local boards will benefit from reduced risk of outages and data loss by shutting down on-premises infrastructure, be more agile when it comes to meeting demands and citizen demands and will be able to deliver services to changing stakeholder needs much faster – lowering overall costs through reduced capital expenditure.

Organizational culture, the biggest risk for digital transformation

In 2021, local governments need to focus on driving change alongside their digital transformation efforts.

Many technology implementations are not as successful as they could have been with only 10 to 30 percent of the opportunity realized or used in a way that was intended. Too many organizations do not take people with them on a transformational journey.

It is essential that local councils set aside a budget for change management, as this can have a disproportionate impact on a council’s chances of success in implementing new technologies.

Untapped opportunities for 2021

  • The shift to remote work will allow local councils to attract and harness talent that otherwise would not consider working in rural and regional areas.
  • The increased adoption of digital technologies will help bridge the digital divide between the public and private sectors – and regional and municipal councils – dramatically improving the way local governments interact with their citizens.
  • The use of Internet of Things technologies will enable operational efficiency and better decision-making in local government.
  • The state government plays a larger role in development approvals.

Brett Barningham is the Managing Director of Local and State Government at Civica.

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