Talking 5 with Local Public Services Member IEG4
Each month, techUK's Associate Director for Local Public Services, Georgina Maratheftis, interviews a member active in the local government space about their vision for the future of local public services and where digital can make a real difference to people and society. This month we talk to Stephen Ferry, CEO, IEG4 about how technologies such as AI are transforming local public services and public sector can reap the benefits.
Welcome Stephen. Firstly, tell me more about you, your career and how you got to this position today?
I have spent the last 30 years working across the public, private, and third sectors, delivering consultancy, services, or software. In the last 15 years, my focus has been on driving growth for software organisations such as Pay360, Synaptic Solutions, or Capita Mortgage Software. This has resulted in specific outcomes, such as enabling frictionless payments, supporting financial decisions on retirement, and streamlining onboarding journeys for new mortgage applications.
I have always had a curious nature and firmly believe that maintaining an open mind and being willing to learn new experiences have supported me throughout my career. These guiding principles will continue to shape my approach in my new role at IEG4.
I joined IEG4 in June 2023, and this is an incredibly exciting period for both the company and our customers. Our main focus is enabling digital transformation within the public sector. We aim to increase efficiency and effectiveness through increased automation, the use of digital forms, and allowing citizens to interact with services in the way they prefer. While this may sound simple, our research and engagement have revealed that there is still significant work to be done in order to truly become a digital society.
What challenges does the public sector currently face, and how can digital solutions resolve those challenges?
The public sector faces several challenges relating to existing architecture and ways of working that can be resolved through digital solutions. These include the lack of consistency and accessibility in digital service delivery across council services. The rationalisation of systems across council services to help digital service delivery become consistent, seamless and accessible, thereby benefiting all citizens.
Another challenge is the need to reduce progress chasing calls from customers, which consumes staff time. Digital solutions automate processes, eliminate manual intervention, and enables real-time tracking, reducing the need for progress calls and freeing up staff time.
Manual data entry increases the risk of errors and poor data quality. Digital solutions automate data capture, minimising re-keying and ensuring accuracy. They also allow for the dynamic refinement of services to meet current and future needs, replacing limitations of legacy systems.
Efficient workload management and resource allocation are important challenges. Digital solutions optimise workflows, automate tasks, and provide insights for resource allocation, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
Existing portals are inflexible, making changes costly and time-consuming. Digital solutions offer configurable platforms, empowering organisations to make changes quickly and independently.
Streamlined training for customer service staff is another challenge. Reducing the number of systems being managed and an intuitive interface simplify training, enabling new starters to become productive faster and enhancing digital skills.
In summary, digital solutions provide consistent service delivery, automate processes, improve data quality, enhance efficiency, and empower organisations to adapt quickly. These benefits address the challenges faced by the public sector, facilitating effective and citizen-centric service delivery.
What will the impact of AI have on revolutionising public services?
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionise public services by enhancing decision-making, improving efficiency, and transforming service delivery. From the perspective of software developers like IEG4, AI offers opportunities to enhance innovative digital solutions that can drive greater automation of both repetitive and more complex tasks, augment human capabilities, and enable data-driven insights.
AI’s ability to automate routine and repetitive tasks, will free up public sector employees to focus on more complex and strategic activities. Natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms offers the potential for intelligent chatbots and virtual assistants that can provide personalised support to citizens, handle enquiries, and streamline customer service.
AI-powered analytics can help public services extract insights from vast amounts of data, enabling evidence-based policymaking and resource allocation. Predictive analytics can help identify patterns and trends, improving early intervention in areas such as healthcare and social services. AI can also contribute to fraud detection, risk assessment, and cybersecurity, enhancing the integrity and security of the public we serve.
Ultimately, organisations that embrace evolving technologies such as AI will drastically improve the way they deliver services to their citizens. To ensure AI can be accelerated within the Public Sector will also require a cultural shift in mind-set and behaviors from a leadership perspective , otherwise the full benefits may not be realised due to concerns over job security of the existing staff doing repetitive and routine tasks.
Georgina is techUK’s Associate Director for Local Public Services
Georgina works with suppliers that are active or looking to break into the market as well as with local public services to create the conditions for meaningful transformation. techUK regularly bring together local public services and supplier community to horizon scan and explore how the technologies of today and tomorrow can help solve some of the most pressing problems our communities face and improve outcomes for our people and places.
Prior to techUK, Georgina worked for a public policy events company where she managed the policy briefing division and was responsible for generating new ideas for events that would add value to the public sector. Georgina worked across a number of portfolios from education, criminal justice, and health but had a particular interest in public sector transformation and technology. Georgina also led on developing relationships across central and local government.
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Local Public Services Programme
techUK's Local Public Services Programme provides the forum for local public services to engage with industry to better understand the innovations out there, horizon-scan how the technologies of today and tomorrow can re-imagine local public services and solve some of the most pressing challenges our communities and places face. It also helps connect suppliers with each other, identify new business partnerships to help grow an ever thriving local government ecosystem.
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The Working Group acts a neutral forum for knowledge exchange across the supplier base and for public sector stakeholders to engage with the market. While identifying common challenges and solutions and offering the opportunity to leverage synergies to partner as often an ecosystem approach is needed to solve a problem.
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