I've recently been asked to look at gathering information for benchmarking the ICT/IT innovation of the councils of our core cities. Even before we start looking for information we need to consider how do we measure innovation?
Twenty years ago having a website was highly innovative. Fifteen years ago a web site was a given and having interactive elements beyond the odd mailto link was highly innovative. Ten years ago a form on your site that did more than email the data entered to a shared mail box was innovative, online payments were just coming up and proved surprisingly popular due to the coincidental rise of credit card incentive schemes so you could now earn Air Miles or loyalty card points by paying your council tax. Five years ago CRM and Single View of the Customer seemed to be finally coming alive and some cities had a virtual copy of themselves on Second Life.
What's innovative now?
A few ideas that have come to mind:
- Social Media Engagement - Can I get useful information from my local council and communicate with them via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn &c?
- Council Mobile Application - Can I interact with the council via my smart phone or tablet? Do they support just iPhone? Just iPhone and Android? Blackberry? Windows Phone? Is it purely a push service with maybe search (so I can see when my local library is open) or can I push back (e.g. book a gym session or renew my library books)? Can I report problems like pot holes, antisocial behaviour, missed refuse collections &c?
- Online Forms - Can I fill them in on the site or do I have to download a PDF and either fill it in or print it and post? Are there forms for a range of services or just a few? Can I pay for things online? Can I book my place at an event or buy a ticket? Can I set up an account and save my information so when I come back and fill in a form again (same form or a different one) I don't have to fill in the same information again? Can I report problems like pot holes, antisocial behaviour, missed refuse collections &c?
- eDemocracy - Do they publish council papers online? Do they video stream meetings? Can I send a message directly to my councillor (contact form, email address &c)? Can I easily find out who my councilor is (e.g. post code search)?
- Single View of the Customer - Do they have a central CRM system? If my details change or I have a change of circumstance how many people do I need to tell or can I just tell the call centre and they will update my record that will update every system or at least some systems?
- Application Consolidation - Where different sections perform the same actions do they use the same systems or does each have their own preferred system?
- Network Speed - Do they have high speed data network to all buildings or just central/main offices whilst the area/smaller offices have to make do with slow links?
- Open Source - Do they use Open Source software? Is it just the usual LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) stack supporting internally developed or commercial applications, maybe a message board or blog, or do they use proper open source applications like LibreOffice, SugarCRM &c?
- WiFi coverage - Do they have Wifi across all offices of just the main/central ones? Do they offer public WiFi?
- 'Green' IT - Are they reducing their carbon footprint by reducing data-centre cooling, server and desktop power consumption? Do they power down machines over night if not in use? Do they recycle old IT kit?
- Server Virtualisation - Do they virtualise servers? Percentage of Windows Servers? Percentage of UNIX servers?
- Desktop Virtualisation - Do they use virtual desktops? Thin client boxes? Remote access?
- Remote Access - How do they provide access to staff off-site? Dedicated lines? NetMotion? UAG? Citrix? Tablet/Phone/Phablet?
- Online Job Applications - Can candidates apply directly for jobs online? Can candidates save their details so when they apply again they don't have to enter all the same information (just update where there's been changes or add details relevant to post)?
All very complex!