Sprout Social – one of the tools we’re using to develop our social media analysis.

 

They say that companies ‘born’ on the internet have an easier time embracing digital opportunities than companies born offline.

Businesses like Amazon, Mashable and Buzzfeed have digital in their DNA. And find it easier to capitalise on web-technology than counterparts who didn’t start life on the net.

Obviously, local government wasn’t born online.

It was born when ‘tweeting’ was something the birds did.

So embracing the exponentially growing trends and possibilities offered by digital can be painful for government.

And the most painful part of all? Changing mindsets.

Let me take a Q&A approach to this…

isn’t digital just a marketing thing?

Generally speaking, it used to be seen as something that whizzy creatives did to build and engage audiences.

But what started as a marketing discpline has grown way beyond that. Digital is now a business model.

It can influence business decisions at almost every level of an organisation.

how so?

Digital allows us to understand customers in a way that simply isn’t possible offline.

We can collect data, understand what our customers want, think and do. And how they interact with us and use our services.

We can use that data to shape how we work.

We can even use that data to predict demand in the future…and manage our resources accordingly.

How clever is that?

sounds a bit ‘big brother’?

Not at all. It’s not about spying on people.

It’s about improving what we do by understanding how customers are engaging with the products, services and information we provide.

very nice..but is it worth the pain?

Yes.

More and more consumers expect to be able to do more and more online. We have to meet that expectation.

This graphic – kindly provided by PwC – illustrates the point.

The number of people converted to digital – or born digital (‘digital natives’) – is only going to rise.

 

Image provided by PwC.

Image provided by PwC.

 

We also need to save money. Providing services digitally is often cheaper than traditional phone and face-to-face contact.

you said ‘mindset’ was  the biggest challenge…what do you mean?

As I’ve said, government was born offline.

So we haven’t grown up with digital in our DNA.

Take a look at this talk by McKinsey’s David Edelman. Most of the challenges he talks about are cultural, rather than technical.

We need to shift our mindset so we think digital first.

With every strategy, product, project or service, we need to start with the question “how can digital techniques guide, support or deliver this piece of work?”

And we need to shift the balance of our ICT policies and infrastructure from ‘policing’ to ‘enablement.’

In other words, we need to redefine the objective of ICT so the emphasis is on giving teams the ideas, inspiration, knowledge and freedom to make best use of digital technology.

so what’s your plan in wrexham?

Like many other councils, we’re just starting out on our digital journey.

We’ve used web-technology in some creative and interesting ways over the years, but it hasn’t really shaped our organisational culture or business strategy until now.

We’ve been looking closely at other organisations that are further along this journey than us (both private and public sector), and we’ll be using their experiences to help shift our mindset even more towards digital in the coming months.

Our customer service team is also developing an online portal that will provide a far more personalised experience for residents.

And our Assets and Economic Development department is piloting various cloud-based tools for social media analysis, customer sentiment insight and other uses.

We’re just starting out. It might not be easy. But our journey into digital is going to be very exciting…for us and our customers.

I’ll keep you posted.