It’s that time of the year.

The internet is jammed with articles about what happened over the past 12 months. And predictions about what’s going to happen over the next 12 months.

And I’m about to contribute to the congestion, so apologies in advance.

Here’s a quick run-down of five things that were big for local government in 2014…and which I expect to be even bigger in 2015.

1. digital transformation

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

Obviously, local government wasn’t born online, so embracing the exponentially growing trends and possibilities offered by digital can be painful for the public sector.

Although we’ve been evolving our digital capability at Wrexham Council for a few years, it was only in 2014 that we really started our journey towards true digital transformation.

Harnessing the true potential of digital will remain one of the biggest challenges facing the public sector in 2015.

2. the impact of the internet on the high street

E-commerce is an amazing development that’s brought many benefits to consumers and businesses. I shop online. Chances are you do too.

But the impact on the high street is tangible. Empty shops and closing-down sales are a common story.

That leaves councils with a difficult problem: how can they re-energise their town centres in an age when people don’t have to visit the high street to buy goods?

In Wrexham, we laid the foundations for an exciting project in 2014 that will help regenerate our town centre (you can read about it in my previous article ‘Disruptive Technologies.’)

And working out how to breathe new life into high streets will remain a priority for local authorities in 2015.

3. going back to the floor

The idea of senior managers going back to the shop floor to spend time working with front line staff isn’t new.

But the practice has started to be perceived as a little clichéd recently.

It’s a shame. Because going back to the floor can offer genuine benefits.

I’ve spent time with several of our front-line teams at Wrexham Council in recent months and it was useful on many levels.

And as budgets shrink and services need to be ever-more focused, the need for senior managers to work with and understand the challenges and ideas of front-line staff will be even more pressing.

You read it here first. Going back to the floor will (or at least should) be important to many public sector leaders in 2015.

4. all work and no play is no good

Get life outside of work right, and you can get a lot more out of your working life too.

It isn’t easy. Life is busy, and balancing time is tough. But giving yourself and employees the freedom to enjoy life outside of work can increase enthusiasm and productivity levels.

I spent a bit of time thinking about this in 2014 and – in an age when employees find it far more difficult to escape the office because of digital and mobile technology – encouraging play will be as important as ever in 2015.

5. volunteering

Towards the end of 2014, we launched our Together in Wrexham initiative.

A scheme to encourage more individuals, communities and groups to come together to help make a difference.

As councils shrink, helping communities grow and encouraging individuals to volunteer some time, knowledge or skill to help others will be important in Wrexham and many other parts of the UK.

So there it is.

My contribution to the ‘looking back / looking forward’ bottle-neck of stories as we start the new year!