12 October 2018
For the public sector, ‘thriving’ is a complicated term to unpick. It doesn’t mean a 10% increase in sales or website traffic. It probably doesn’t equate to winning a big new client, and hiring more staff as a result.
Instead, thriving means an engaged workforce, and delivering great services to the general public. It means a secure but transparent infrastructure, which stands up to everything from public scrutiny to international threats. In the digital age, it means having access to efficient and integrated digital platforms, stimulating communication across large teams in various locations.
And of course, it’s not just private stakeholders who are analysing these outputs. It’s every member of society with an interest in that service. Unfortunately, the connected, always-online world we live in means the public sector has never been under more pressure.
In the face of this, what can such organisations do to thrive?
Often, public sector organisations face challenges arising from situations outside of their control – political machinations, unexpected budget cuts, and the like. However, there are areas where organisations can take the reins of their own success. Investing in the right technologies is a tangible decision an organisation can make in order to thrive – it’s simply a case of identifying problem areas and responding accordingly.
Seek out scalable solutions
All organisations have peaks and troughs throughout the year. In the public sector organisations, this issue is amplified, because a busy period can mean dealing with thousands of additional calls. But with the bottom line always under pressure, implementing an extensive infrastructure that will go unused half the time isn’t an option.
An extreme example of this scenario is faced by universities and clearing offices every summer. Last year’s figures showed that a record number of students gained places through clearing – 11,180 students had gone through the process by midnight on A-Level results day. This means the teams running these offices need to significantly boost their capacity – but it would be a huge waste of resource to host this many phone lines all year around, given that the influx occurs in a very narrow time period.
Fortunately, scalable solutions have never been easier to organise. SIP trunking, a less costly alternative to ISDN, can be scaled up during busy periods and back down again afterwards. When used in combination with a call management platform like Horizon, this is a highly cost-effective – not to mention efficient – solution, which can help public sector organisations to thrive.
Consider the implications of multi-site working
The majority of public sector services have teams in various locations, which may well be at different ends of the country, across county lines, or even dotted around the same city. Either way, it creates a logistical headache when it comes to business communication platforms, particularly if staff need to move from place to place, too.
A cloud hosted phone system could be the answer, alleviating the restrictions of a fixed-line edsk phone. Minimising reliance on physical infrastructure is a great solution for organisations working across multiple locations, as it can be managed and maintained remotely. A hosted phone system also means public sector employees can take their number with them as they travel, with no reliance on physical infrastructure.
Take an individual approach
Increasingly, public sector organisations are expected to tailor their offering to the distinct demographics they serve within their constituency. This can be done in part by utilising platforms like social media, creating a human front to a previously impersonal organisation. But they also need technology that’s bespoke to the offering they’re trying to provide, as opposed to standardised infrastructure.
Public sector organisations should therefore seek out consultations from specialists about what would benefit their organisation the most – whether that’s a hosted phone system, SIP trunking or cloud computing.
Tackle budget pressures
Most public sector organisations are feeling the pressure to do more with less, with budgets being closely scrutinised. This can be a barrier to updating technology – when existing platforms are deemed serviceable, if not robust, it may be felt that budget is better spent elsewhere.
However, it’s easy to demonstrate that month on month, savings can result from updating technology. For example, voice is an essential platform for thriving in a digital age, particularly in the public sector. Switching to SIP Trunking, instead of a traditional ISDN phone line, can save up to 50% on line rental and 25% or more on call costs.
Thriving in the digital age
External pressures mean the public sector will always face barriers when trying to thrive in the digital age – it’s a unique industry in this respect. But this also means that technology has much to offer the public sector, especially when it comes to improving efficiency, performance and quality of service. All of which make for more reliable services and, ultimately, happier citizens.
Strictly speaking, it’s true that investment in digital platforms isn’t the only way for public sector organisations to thrive. But one thing’s for sure: it’s definitely a pivotal building block for success – and the one on which all others depend.