The bulk of public services are set to go digital in the next few years, a survey of public sector leaders has suggested. The 406 senior managers polled by GOSS Interactive said they expected to take around 62 per cent of their services to online self-service by 2019, compared to 26 per cent today.

However, only 56 per cent of councils have a digital strategy in place. 72 per cent felt that the implementation of digital self-service systems would be most beneficial to their customers, as it would allow them to access services out of hours and on the move and easily source the information they require.

Currently, around 54 per cent of councils are adopting a low risk evolutionary strategy whereby they are adopting a slow movement of individual departments over to digital formats.

However, though low-risk this is slow and arguably means they are being left behind. Rob McCarthy, the chief executive of GOSS Interactive, said: “An evolutionary approach is lower-risk and the success of the first services can be used to develop a business case for other solutions.

“This, however, typically leads to a proliferation of systems and interfaces, which causes problems in streamlining the customer experience and becomes expensive to run in the long term.

“Deploying a single digital platform to deliver all services in a unified system allows for a more coherent, planned approach. Although a potentially larger initial investment, it can realise a faster and consistent return on investment.

“Over half of organisations are taking an evolutionary approach, yet our findings show this just won’t be enough to meet the expected growth rate of digital self-service.

“The public sector must take action now in order to meet the budgetary challenges it’s facing while keeping the vital public services it delivers operational.

“The next 12 months will be crucial. If EU funds for local government are not completely replaced, budgets will likely come under even more pressure, so councils need to start radically revolutionising their approaches to self-service so they can start realising savings quickly.”

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