Guest post from Georgina Maratheftis, Head of Local Public Services at techUK
A familiar and well-rehearsed narrative for local government is that it is increasingly fragmented and hard to navigate. While this is true, local government is unique in the number of lines of business it operates from zoo licenses to waste congestion! Managing demand and rising expectations at a continued time of financial constraints is no easy feat, and as such more and more councils are embracing and seeing digital in helping to not only drive efficiencies but solve problems and create places where citizens want to live, work and thrive.
Collectively, local government spends around £2 billion per annum on IT, with £1 billion of this spent on sourcing and supporting software applications. The future is looking hopeful with nearly £500m in expiring local government IT contracts before the end of 2020, according to research firm Tussell. We are also seeing councils genuinely collaborating to solve common challenges. From the Ministry for Housing and Local Government’s Local Digital Declaration to the launch of the London Office for Technology Innovation to Worcestershire Office of Data Analytics, we are seeing local public services work together to transform services using digital tools and technology.
While it is an exciting time for local government digital there is still no denying that the sector can be a challenging one to enter for SMEs and new entrants. From the varied procurement processes of councils to knowing who the right person to speak to is. That is why techUK has put together Fostering the ecosystem: Guide for SMEs selling to the Public Sector on how to best navigate the public sector market, highlighting the benefits of frameworks, early market engagement, and partnerships between companies of all sizes. techUK also hosts regular market intelligence briefings with data analyst and public sector leaders to better inform industry on the problems councils are trying to solve and tips on how to succeed in the local government market.
SMEs have a critical role in driving innovation in local public services and established players are helping SMEs get a foot in the door by partnering with them and helping to create a diverse ecosystem. For SMEs partnering with an established supplier who is looking to enhance their offering can be a good first step into the wider public sector market. At the start of the month, techUK held a Partnering & Networking: Growing the Local GovTech Market pitch-fest offering tech companies large and small the opportunity to network and identify business partners with innovative solutions for transforming local public services. Collaboration isn’t just something happening across local government but industry too.
While the pace of change can be slower across public sector, it is the sector where digital can make a real difference to citizens and our communities.