11 Sep 2023

Melissa: How SaaS is transforming public sector operations #techUKSmarterState

Guest blog by Barley Laing, UK Managing Director at Melissa, as part of Building the Smarter State week. #techUKSmarterState

Innovations in software-as-a-service (SaaS) over the last few years has seen it play an increasingly transformative role in improving the operations and processes within the public sector. 

SaaS stands out because it delivers applications via the internet using a subscription fee model. Therefore, those that use SaaS don’t need to invest in computing infrastructure, maintenance and spend far less, if anything, on staff training to effectively utilise it. It also requires less human intervention, avoiding the potential for human error and improving efficiency.  

With the public sector having a chequered history with IT projects, it’s becoming very attractive for forward thinking public sector organisations to turn on a pre-made SaaS service when they need it, safe in the knowledge that it will deliver. 

SaaS is cost effective 

One of the most popular reasons public sector organisations turn to SaaS is because it’s good value for money, which is great for budgets under serious pressure post-pandemic. 

With the SaaS services hosted online those using such an application will benefit from not having operational and IT maintenance costs, compared to those who are hosting an API. Factors such as scaling, performance, uptime, fixing bugs, general maintenance and disaster recovery are all handled by the provider. This means there’s no need to spend precious budget on software issues, which includes IT staff time in setting up and maintaining such platforms. Employees can focus on their core responsibilities instead. 

Easy to deploy, accessible and flexible 

Because SaaS is accessed via the internet and subscription based, it’s straightforward to deploy and access quickly, in just a few clicks, anywhere in the world. Therefore, it’s easy to switch on and benefit instantly. This provides great flexibility – for example the ability to trial before potentially committing to the platform. It also means you can easily use SaaS tools in the short or long term, based on your needs.  

This fast access is often not possible with alternatives that require delivery mechanisms for software, which can entail costly - in time and money – integration by third parties into existing systems before they are up and running.  

Additionally, with SaaS tools there is the ability to scale up or down simply, based on your current requirements. 

These benefits of SaaS are all factors why it’s playing an increasingly transformative role for the public sector in delivering data quality and ID verification, to aid counter fraud efforts. 

SaaS and data quality 

With SaaS it’s never been easier or more cost-effective for the public sector to manage data quality in real-time.  

Today, it’s straightforward to access a scalable data cleansing SaaS platform that requires no code, integration or training. One that provides a single, intuitive interface offering tools for data standardisation, validation, and enrichment, which results in high-quality contact information across multiple databases.  

Ideally the SaaS platform sourced should be able to instantly cleanse and correct names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers, both domestically and worldwide. Additionally, as part of its functionality, it needs to be able to remove duplicate records and deliver data profiling to help identify issues for further action.  

SaaS and ID verification 

The growth in online fraud, combined with the increasing digitalisation of public services, necessitates that those in the public sector know who they are engaging with, ideally in real-time. This is why a SaaS electronic identity verification (eIDV) tool is so important. 

Such a scalable easily to deploy platform supports cross-checks against an individual's contact data in real-time as they complete an online application process, while ensuring the user experience isn’t compromised. It’s best to source one that does this by matching the name, address, date of birth, email, or phone number against reputable data streams such as government agency, credit agency and utility records, along with mortality screening checks, to effectively confirm the ID of an individual. It should also ideally highlight those who have been sanctioned, politically exposed persons (PEPs), and deliver adverse media checks, for a full ID verification service. Only by taking this approach is it possible to determine an applicant’s ‘right’ to access a service or support, and protect tight budgets against scammers.  

KYC in tandem with KYB 

With SaaS data quality and eIDV platforms providing insight to help know your citizens (KYC) as part of their core functionality, it’s important that the eIDV platform that’s sourced is able to deliver know your business (KYB) checks, to enable organisations to fully understand the risks posed by new and existing suppliers, business customers and partners. Fraud is frequently committed by those using shell companies or umbrella structures that just don’t exist in reality, so undertaking KYB to validate an organisation can greatly diminish that type of fraud from occurring. Also, delivering KYB will help to prevent financial crime, such as money laundering and terror financing, which could result in significant reputational damage, quite apart from the monetary cost of the relationship.  

As SaaS evolves it’s transforming how the public sector operates, particularly in areas such as delivering contact data quality and ID verification. The cost benefits, speed, accessibility and flexibility afforded by SaaS are proving game changing for this sector.  


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This guest blog was written by Barley Laing, UK Managing Director at Melissa. To learn more about Melissa, please visit their LinkedIn and Twitter page. 

Barley Laing is UK Managing Director, Melissa, and techUK Central Government Council Member.

Barley Laing joined Melissa in 2014 during an exciting expansion phase of the California headquartered company. 

As Managing Director, with 24 years of technology and data industry experience, his role is focused on meeting the customer onboarding, data quality and ID/compliance needs for organisations in the UK and worldwide. 

The team that Barley heads up provides sales, data consultancy and technical support for their wide range of software solutions, which help organisations to achieve efficient data verification and management; and meet ID, Know your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements.  

Under his leadership Melissa’s UK office has experienced double digit growth over the last five years in a row, including 21% in 2021. Over this period he has significantly grown the UK client base, which includes: the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; GCHQ; Financial Conduct Authority (FCA); BBC; BAE Systems; GSK and Mars. 

From 11 – 15 September techUK is running our annual Building the Smarter State Week in the run-up to the ninth edition of our flagship public services conference, Building the Smarter State, on Wednesday 27 September. Book your tickets here