Eight Tips for Driving Digital Demand in Local Areas

by Martyn Wallace, Head of Digital Sales – Enterprise, Telefónica UK

It’s been fascinating talking to some of the Local Authorities planning to bid for our Local Government Digital Fund and understanding some of the challenges of harnessing digital technology to serve your citizens and communities.

I recently had the honour of chairing a Scottish government and Cabinet committee session on “Driving Demand for Digital Connectivity,” looking at how citizens, business and government organisations can all do more online.

We came up with the ‘8 Ps’ as a way of thinking about how to drive digital demand:

  1. Plato,  “necessity is the mother of all invention”: think digital first for all processes
  2. Planning: the first consideration around planning is to consider what you already have in your area.  This could be a simple thing such as text reminders to patients about appointments or taking medicine, thereby improving health service efficiency. If you start with the basics of network connectivity then work up to the ‘superfast’, you won’t go wrong.
  3. Purpose: the trick is to first establish what will motivate people to go online, and this may have nothing to do with government services.  For instance Highlands and Islands Enterprise has a “digital knitting” initiative, helping local communities to get online for the first time and show them how to make the most out of the internet.
  4. Process: use ‘think big, start small, move fast’ as a mantra for digital innovation.
  5. Partnering: with the right people or with the right businesses could solve your digital challenges.  A great example of a community combining its resources is the Get to Know Your Techno group set up by some Ullapol school children to teach older members how to use their computers and mobile phones.
  6. Personalised: create the desire to be digital by giving people a reason they can personally relate to for interacting with Government online
  7. Patronising: keeping your digital channel simple and user friendly just makes sense.  It’s not about being patronising.  We all have different levels of digital literacy but everyone likes accessible, easy-to-use services.
  8. Procurement: some procurement approaches can be heavy handed and smother innovation.  Beware of wasting time on too many pilot projects and we all know that the cheapest proposal may not represent the best overall value.

With all devolved parliaments in the UK setting out digital visions for 2020, combined with the fact that we’re on the cusp of wider higher speed connectivity, now is a great time to innovate.

Our Local Government Digital Forum can help you share ideas and aid you all in the quest for “Digital Nirvana.”  To find out more go to o2.co.uk/lgdf or get in touch with me on Twitter @MW_O2UK.