Delivering better public services through digital innovation

By Billy Darcy – Managing Director of Public Sector at Telefónica UK

The only thing that is constant is change. This idea is attributed to a Greek Philosopher who roamed the earth long before we had electricity or the internet. Yet, it remains as relevant today as it did then, particularly where mobile technology is concerned.

At Telefónica we welcome change and live by the principle of discover, disrupt and deliver. Managing over 23 million customers across the UK and over 313 million worldwide, we understand their requirements and provide them with mobile and digital solutions that not only assist them with their day-to-day needs, but more importantly transform the way they work.

Over the past two years, Telefónica UK has developed a dedicated public sector team and we feel it’s time this transformative innovation is brought to the UK’s public sector. We want to help organisations do more for less, enable staff and find new ways to engage with citizens.

One way we’re bringing about innovation in the public sector is through partnering with think tanks like Reform. Together we’ve hosted a series of roundtable seminars featuring guest speakers such as: Stephen Kelly, Chief Operating Officer for the Government and Head of the Efficiency and Reform Group, Nadhim Zahawi MP and member of the No. 10 Downing Street Policy Board,  Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information, NHS and of course Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefónica UK.

Our latest seminar was titled ‘Disruptive innovation in public service reform’ and focused on the role of mobile technology in the public sector. Considering the wealth of expertise in the room we were certainly not short of insight and opinion on how we can overcome barriers to the adoption of mobile technology in the public sector.

After having reflected on the session I have set out three key points, which I believe will be important considerations if the public sector is to reduce costs and deliver better outcomes for citizens:

1.       Unleashing the forces of innovation

It is an unprecedented time for the public sector given the unique set of challenges it faces in terms of constraints on resources, rising demand and increased public expectations. But, amidst these challenges comes a great opportunity for innovation and the use of digital technology to transform services and improve the experience for citizens. A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research published earlier this year showed the UK economy was losing up to £30bn from a lack of connectivity and technology. Think what potential this might have in the public sector in terms of productivity and as an enabler.

2.       Showing leadership

Creating a leadership environment will ensure staff are trusted to innovate with technology and are confident using and investing in it. That’s not using technology for the sake of it, but actually providing solutions and a new way of working. We’ve proven the public sector can take the lead in developing innovative approaches to meeting long-term challenges through our Local Government Digital Fund, which has provided local authorities funding of up to £250,000 to help them unlock the potential of technology and turn their ideas into reality.

3.       Digital at the core

Putting mobile technology at the core of businesses and organisations can help break down barriers to access, improve the quality of service and cut down costs. Telefonica UK’s work with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust demonstrates how technology can deliver faster care in less costly settings and drive better outcomes not only for patients but for the Trust as well.

Click here to read the Reform report in full and visit our website to find out more about how we’re helping the public sector increase effectiveness and improve citizen engagement.