For local governments, one of the key challenges they face is unlocking the value of the information held in disparate data silos within the council.
It’s not a challenge that is unique to local government, of course — many organisations in many industries struggle with the same problem.
But it’s becoming more of a challenge in the local government sector due to the nature of the business that councils have become — or want to become.
Councils offer a broad and diverse range of services — such as issuing building permits, maintain roads, parks and libraries, waste management, and other community services.
- LISTEN: Webinar – Unlocking Data Silos in Local Government.
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Councils are starting to go much further, diversifying the range of facilities and services they provide to include cultural centres, sporting conferences, childcare centres, museums, and galleries. And the list keeps growing.
Contemporary councils have evolved to look much more like businesses, and that has brought with it a need to innovate and transform.
It is also important to recognise that the scale of the economic impact of this transformation is significant. In NSW alone there are approximately 130 councils employing almost 45,000 workers — comparable to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Not only are councils major employers within the community, but they also are becoming a source of economic activation.
All of this is putting pressure on councils to deliver services in a more innovative, efficient, and effective way.
A key question that councils need to ask themselves is how best to deliver these services. That involves being able to imagine the end-state of a transformation journey, and recognising that the end-state will be influenced by the digital demands of consumers who expect the same level of service they get every day from all other aspects of their digital life.
Those consumers also expect to be able to interact with the council using the same digital channels they would get elsewhere — whether that be web sites, smartphones, or kiosks. And of course, they still need to maintain traditional walk-in services that have always been the mainstay of local government.
Councils, like many businesses, are also discovering that change doesn’t end with the consumer experience. Employee experience is just as important.
The employees who go and fix the lights in the road, or maintain the parks, or who operate on the front line in customer-facing roles, also want to interact in a much more efficient real-time manner.
All of these trends are dictating how the services should be delivered.
The data dilemma
The pressure to meet the expectations of consumers and employees alike amplifies the need for councils to be more agile and responsive in order to transform service delivery in new ways by leveraging technology
For many customers, the first step they take towards this journey is to equip themselves to leverage data and unlock the insights that data can provide.
The challenge is that much of this data is locked away in silos across many different and often aging systems.
The data that many councils hold is also inconsistent, inaccurate, out of date, or simply too difficult to access. With the advent of cloud-based systems, the problem may actually get harder before it gets easier.
For instance, one council Boomi, a Dell Technologies business, is working with in Brisbane is undergoing a transformation that will see them onboard as many as 100 new cloud-based systems over the next few years, as they move away from traditional on-premise ERP providers and instead adopt more of a best-of-breed approach. The result will be transformative and provide their consumers and employers with new capabilities. They also recognise that they have to plan for how to track and transport data through all these new and different systems.
That job falls to the IT department — and how do they typically tackle this?
One approach is to integrate all these disparate applications together so that there’s data exchange across all these different islands that store the data.
Data is scattered in different applications, and integration solves the problem in that you’re able to facilitate the movement and the exchange of data between these systems.
However, integration often only solves a part of the problem. You may be facilitating the data flow from system to system, but often that data is still duplicated across systems — meaning that inaccurate data gets duplicated across systems as well.
Integration does not solve the problem of which data you can trust.
The reality is that there is an element of data management that needs to happen to provide the council with the confidence it needs — and this is typically addressed using Master Data Management. Only when these two worlds — integration and Master Data Management — converge, are you truly able to break down the data silos.
This is where Boomi has a role to play.
The Boomi platform is a cloud-based unified platform, which provides you the ability to connect your applications together so that you facilitate data exchange with it. You are then able to govern that data, master that data, synchronise that data and cleanse that data. And then, through the use of things like Boomi’s B2B Management module or its HR management module, we systematically and automatically expose that data.
We recently explored these issues in-depth in a podcast called Unlocking Data Silos in Local Government.