By Susan Fox: Head of Partnerships, Telefónica UK
Recently, I joined a panel of experts at a Westminster Forum event to discuss ways to improve digital services and to explore the benefits the public sector can reap from partnerships. For me, the exam question was this: with a reported £13bn of cuts to be made to departmental budgets by 2018, how can suppliers to the public sector help drive efficiency and support digital transformation for the benefits of citizens?
I believe the focus for suppliers should be in three main areas;
- Strategic alignment: Organisations must build on their core strengths and help public services to adopt technology to enable them to connect with citizens in the digital age, such as booking GP appointments online or paying for parking using mobile devices.
- Challenge workplace cultures: Place more emphasis on delivery by using innovation to challenge traditional working practices that can raise productivity and benefit both front-line staff and end users.
- Embrace partnerships: Use the strengths of an organisation and the partner to achieve better value and a better proposition for public services. We must ensure the individuals who are being asked to change their working practices fully understand the benefits.
This is where partnerships can play an important part. I have worked with a range of organisations to co-create bespoke solutions such as the Blue Light Managed Mobility service currently being delivered to five police forces. By focusing on the three strategies above, O2 and Capita have delivered an innovative solution that is now helping police forces increase productivity and, in some cases, reducing their paper-based processes by 60%.
Partnerships have huge potential to benefit the public sector. But they will only be realised if organisations encourage collaboration and work with suppliers that promote and nurture partnerships. This has parallels with the approach we’ve taken at O2 when we recognised the need to be agile and innovative to deliver more for our customers. It’s why we work closely with Wayra, our start-up accelerator, to share the innovation provided by new digital start-ups with our customers.
So what about challenges and opportunities? With the Chancellor setting out the government spending plans in his Budget Statement last week, it is evident that public services will have to accelerate their transformation in order to make savings. However this also creates opportunities to think differently about how services are managed and delivered. And partnership working can provide the solution.
The challenge is ensuring that both parties are clear on the what, why and how. If we continue to build partnerships based on trust, collaboration and innovation I believe the possibilities are endless for transformation in the public sector.
If you share my optimism and would like to get in touch, you can find me on LinkedIn.
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