Apps, online communities, cloud services, mobile devices. These are the foundations for a digital future; these are the foundations for a bigger and better Peterborough.
“We want to create a healthy, safe and exciting place to live, work and visit,” explains Gillian Beasley, Chief Executive of Peterborough City Council. “We are putting a citizen-centric digital platform at the heart of the council and the services we provide.”
From the council’s call centre and website to building control and children services, Salesforce will provide the backbone for this digital transformation. “We’ll be able to seamlessly connect staff, customers and information via a core platform that supports multiple engagement channels,” says Richard Godfrey, Assistant Director: Digital Peterborough at Peterborough City Council.
Digitalisation will not only improve the quality and efficiency of local services, but has also helped the council address its budget shortfall of £25 million for the financial year 2015/16.
“We need to do things radically different at the front line and in the back office if we are to deliver the same services with fewer resources,” says Beasley. “We can’t just turn services off. Digitalisation will help us tackle austerity.”
Peterborough’s digital city ambitions began with the deployment of a 90-kilometre gigabit network in 2014, which connects 107 public sector sites, including council offices, schools and hospitals.
The network provides the council with the foundations it needs to transform its IT operations. As Godfrey explains: “With a world-class fibre network, we can make greater use of cloud services. This will enable the IT team to spend less time maintaining systems and more time configuring systems to increase efficiency. It changes the role of IT at the council.”
Salesforce was one of the council’s first cloud recruits and is at the heart of the council’s technology strategy, with the initial implementation taking only three months.
“Salesforce is a real differentiator,” says Godfrey. “We can configure new applications really quickly and not worry about management and maintenance.”
And the council has plenty of new applications already in the pipeline. As Godfrey explains: “Customer expectations are changing. People will increasingly compare their experience with the council with other digital interactions. We want to draw on best practice from the likes of the banking and the airline industry to create a digital services hub for citizens.”
The hub, which is expected to go live before the end of FY15/16, will provide access to a range of online forms and council services – all of which will be underpinned by the Salesforce1 Platform.
As well as transforming how it engages with citizens, the council is also reinventing its legacy systems as mobile-enabled apps powered by the Salesforce1 Platform.
“Our legacy systems operate in silos, so our data is also stuck in silos,” explains Godfrey. “We have no single view of a citizen, which makes it difficult to link cases raised with the different departments.”
By using Salesforce as a common platform for front and back office processes, the council will have a centralised repository of data that it can analyse to drive ongoing service improvements. It will also have an integrated end-to-end digital services hub and a pan-council view across all activities, which will bring ‘Government as a Platform’ ideals to the organisation.
“Managers will be able to access the data they need in real time, rather than having to rely on the performance team to run a report,” says Godfrey. “This will allow the team to focus on deep-dive analysis across the council, which will provide better visibility of how we are spending and where we are saving taxpayers’ money.”
Peterborough’s joined-up approach to service delivery started with the deployment of Service Cloud in its call centre, which handles 300,000 inquiries per year. “We didn’t have any visibility of why people were calling, so this year is about creating a baseline,” reveals Godfrey.
This baseline will not only help the council decrease the volume of calls but also increase first time resolution rates. “We’ll be able to establish digital self-service options for common queries, which means a faster response for citizens and a lower cost for the council,” adds Godfrey.
As well as logging the details of every inquiry in Service Cloud, the 50-strong call centre team use Salesforce Chatter, an enterprise social networking tool, to collaborate more effectively. “Instead of emailing a query to a manager, an agent can message them in Chatter and get a response in real time while the caller is still on the line,” explains Godfrey.
Introducing new online communities across the entire council for core groups, such as adult services and human resources, will further reduce employees’ reliance on email whilst increasing communication and collaboration.
The communities, which will be powered by Community Cloud and Chatter, will form the foundation of the council’s intranet and make it easier for documents to be shared and updated by its 1,400 employees.
“We send about 12,000 internal emails a day, which has a significant impact on productivity and our IT infrastructure,” comments Godfrey. “The communities will make it easier for staff to work and collaborate remotely; there is currently an over-reliance on staff using email to carry out their duties.”
The Salesforce1 Mobile App will also support remote working by enabling staff, such as social workers, to both share and access data while working in the community.
“We don’t want staff to be jotting stuff down in notebooks; we want them to be able to capture information in real-time using online forms,” explains Godfrey.
As well as freeing up staff to spend more time on front line services, this new approach will enable managers to step in and provide on-the-spot support and advice to the likes of social workers.
Tapping into more knowledge and data will be key to the council’s digital city ambitions. “We are already looking at how we can use the Internet of Things to gain a better insight into life and trends across the city,” says Godfrey. “Salesforce will help us visualise and analyse data better.”
Peterborough City Council also wants to use social listening to see what issues are trending among local citizens and businesses, so it can respond more quickly.
Thanks to Radian6, part of the Marketing Cloud suite, the council will be able to follow thousands of conversation threads across a range of sites and forums, including Facebook and Twitter, without having to identify individuals. “It will provide us with a unique window into life in Peterborough, so we can make our services more relevant,” says Godfrey.
The council also plans to use Marketing Cloud to improve how it communicates with citizens. For example, if there is a shortage of foster carers, it will be able to initiate a campaign to reach out to thousands of people within just a few clicks.
“With Salesforce, we will be integrated front to back and left to right. Our digital transformation will redefine how we operate and engage as a council; it will help us deliver more efficient and cost-effective services that improve the quality of life for the people of Peterborough,” comments Beasley.