Tech 100: ‘True transformation is disruptive and councils need to lose the shackles of the past’

Written by Staff reporter on 3 February 2017 in Comment

East Renfrewshire Council’s Murray Husband and Steve Roud of Angus Council on what should and will define 2017 when it comes to digital within local government

Tech 100 Local Government - Image credit: Holyrood


‘2017 should be about local authorities being brave’

When thinking about what will define 2017 when it comes to digital within local government, it’s worth reflecting on where local authorities are. Digital is everywhere.

For local authorities, the formation of the new Digital Partnership and appointment of chief digital and chief technology officers gives an excellent locus for the digital agenda.

Throughout our sector many, if not most, business transformations are being driven through a digital agenda. The change programmes vary in scale and ambition but almost all are aligned to digital goals.

2017 is a pivotal year in many respects for local authorities. Demand from our citizens and customers is changing, the continuing austere fiscal backdrop and focus on the changing models for education and community empowerment are all leading senior executives to question and develop new business strategies to meet this complex shifting demand.

To meet these changing demands, in a timeframe that will bring benefit, the pace and scale of change is now critical. Our citizens and customers want digital councils and they want digital services and they want them today.

2017 will be about each of the local authorities moving forward together, learning from each other, collaborating with each other, communicating with our citizens and customers to understand the user stories and most importantly challenging the status quo.

The transformation journey is not easy. If it was we would have done it by now.

True transformation is disruptive and councils need to lose the shackles of the past, embrace risk management over risk aversion, develop new ways of funding to align with consumption-based delivery models, challenge the norm and most importantly be brave.

Digital simply enables change – it’s people that enact it and it’s the organisations and customers that benefit from it.

2017 should be about local authorities being brave, enabling change through digital and moving at pace towards the next evolution of local authority.

Over this coming year local authorities, citizens and customers need to start seeing the outcomes, the fruits of our labour, and the genuine tangible benefit of business transformation through digital. The proof is always in the pudding.

Murray Husband is head of ICT and digital enablement for East Renfrewshire Council


Opportunity for innovation to become a mainstream activity rather than a sideshow for IT teams’

I see huge opportunities for local government in 2017.

The appointment of a shared chief digital officer and chief technical officer will begin to drive a shared agenda for the sector.

This creates the opportunity for 2017 to be the year when innovation becomes a mainstream activity rather than a sideshow for IT teams who already have the creative mindset and enthusiasm for this agenda but struggle to balance it with business as usual.

With the pressure of financial challenges beginning to bite the need to stride forward to the cutting edge has never been more important in ensuring that local government continues to deliver good quality, effective services at a reduced cost.

In terms of technology trends I’m enthusiastic about how we can harness robotics for delivering professional services and exploring how to finally unleash the collective power of our data to improve decisions and outcomes for citizens.

Steve Roud is IT service manager for Angus Council



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