Transformers – how Enterprise Ireland can help with your digital acceleration

By Laura Brocklebank | 09 December 2020

If there were an award for overused words this year it would be a three-way tie between Zoom fatigue, resilience, and digital transformation.

Of the three, digital transformation is the one which will be with us long after the pandemic is gone.

From ecommerce to remote working, this was the year in which individuals, businesses and organisations all stepped on the digital accelerator, discovering new ways of doing things better, faster and with greater flexibility.

The speed at which the digital transformation took shape this year was remarkable, but it is a road councils and local authorities were already on.

Like any organisation, local authorities want to be more efficient and more effective. They want to deliver more of the services that enable citizens, communities, and local economies to thrive. But they also face the perennial challenge of doing it with less.

Enterprise Ireland, Ireland’s innovation agency, has been helping them do just that by introducing them to Irish companies with the digital skills, innovation and experience they need.

By acting as technology partners, they are helping UK local authorities to modernise, capture efficiencies and save money while becoming more effective too. They are supporting councils to become leaner, more agile and more data driven in their decision making, more efficient in their allocation of resources and more effective in the delivery of services.

For example, Enterprise Ireland client company CWSI is delivering secure remote working solutions to one of the UK’s largest local authorities, Eden and South Lakeland District Councils.

An enterprise mobility expert, CWSI is empowering its wide range of field workers to go about their work, securing sensitive data on mobile phones and laptops and protecting it from potential breaches. It is working closely with local authorities to create integrated solutions that address the needs of today’s ultra-mobile workforce to the highest safety and compliance standards.

Digital mailroom solutions company Mail Metrics is helping organisations of all sorts to manage connected customer communications. It solves the challenges local authorities face as a result of the proliferation of digital channels, greater compliance demands and the increased cost pressures these impose.

It is changing how organisations approach the management of high-volume customer communications, helping them to automate and digitise all of their inbound and outbound correspondence, reducing time and cost inputs, increasing productivity and security.

Information management expert Informa provides a digital solution for Freedom of Information management, supporting public sector organisations to manage a critical process. With some councils facing an unprecedented backlog of FOI requests as a result of COVID, it’s a timely solution that is accurate, accountable, auditable, compliant and secure.

MultiTime provides time and attendance solutions for flexible working, including home working hours and shift work. It works with a range of UK authorities, including London Borough of Lewisham, Denbighshire Council and Conwy Council, as well as HM Passport Office and the NHS.

Its rostering solutions can help support COVID social distancing protocols too, allowing users to see how many staff members are already in an office, or hot desks are available, for example.

Mental health is a huge issue for local authority recovery plans. Silvercloud is delivering the free online health and wellness supports rolled out this year to residents by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

Its clinically proven, evidence-based content, programmes and supports are helping citizens who may be feeling stressed and anxious as a result of the pandemic. Silvercloud is working with Brighton & Hove City Council and the Welsh Government too.

Abodoo’s innovative Talent Mapping Technology allows councils to plan a bridge from current unemployment to post-pandemic economic recovery, identifying skills in their area and providing local government with dynamic, rich data to drive inward investment as well as a gateway through which to attract talent.

This is just a snapshot of the many ways in which Enterprise Ireland client companies are helping councils and local authorities to seize the current digital momentum and drive it forward.

Whether enabling staff to work smarter, improving access and service delivery for citizens or boosting internal efficiencies, talk to us, we can help.

To find out more, feel free to contact Laura Brocklebank, UK Local Authority Lead, at laura.brocklebank@enterprise-ireland.com

Times are a changing

Municipal authorities, universities and a range of other public and commercial bodies across the UK are benefitting from MultiTime’s advanced flexible working solutions. MultiTime is the UK subsidiary of FlexTime, which was established in Dublin in 1983 by flexitime pioneer Ciaran Rowsome.

While the benefits of flexible working may be widely accepted and appreciated today, that was not the case back in the 1970s when Rowsome first started in the industry. ‘The concept originated in Germany in the late 1960s when Messerschmitt looked for a way to address the problem of thousands of workers arriving and leaving sites at the same time every day. They hired a behavioural psychologist who asked the simple question: “Why nine, why five?”’

The idea of people starting and finishing at different times was slow to catch on, however. ‘It was almost an evangelical job in the early days trying to convince people of the benefits,’ Rowsome adds.

But the concept caught on and FlexTime now has over 400 customers, with more than 5,000 implementations and over 200,000 users for its software, which is developed in-house in Dublin. The company supplies to government, manufacturing, financial services, universities, health and other sectors across Europe and also provides services to other regions, including North America. In Ireland, its client list spans a broad range of private and public sector organisations, including the Irish parliament.

The company entered the UK market a decade ago with the establishment of MultiTime in London. ‘Enterprise Ireland were of great assistance in the early days,’ Rowsome recalls. ‘They made their London office available to us to hold meetings with prospective clients and partners.’

The London Borough of Lewisham was among MultiTime’s first major UK local government clients. ‘Our experience of working with UK local authorities is very good,’ he says. ‘They are quite department focused, which suits us because our solutions are so adaptable. Some councils tend to start with a small project with us and then build on that.’

Lewisham offers an excellent example of how MultiTime can add value to the core flexitime solution. ‘The council has a bus service which is used for special needs children and elderly clients and others,’ he explains. ‘The bus drivers and special needs assistants who operate the services need to have specific skills and qualifications to deal with different user groups. If one of them is absent or late it can lead to cancelled services, with knock-on effects across the system.’

The MultiTime system keeps track of all of those skill sets so that relief drivers and assistants can be immediately allocated with the right qualifications to where they are needed, to prevent service disruptions. That solved the problem for the council.

‘This is the type of module we can design to add value for customers. Birmingham University asked us if they could use our cards and system for their car parks. We developed a programme for that, and the university is now taking in more money from their car parks as a result.’

MultiTime solutions also support the agile working programmes which are being rolled out by local authorities as they seek to improve efficiency along with their ability to attract and retain talent. ‘Local authorities are significant users of flexible working,’ Rowsome notes. ‘They can often be based in areas which are quite awkward to get to and they are trying to attract staff to come and work for them. In some cases, those staff visit people in the community and also different sites during the day. So our system can enable them to go directly without spending hours going to and from the main office first. It also allows people to come to work later, or much earlier. They might go to work, go back home to pick up the kids from school and look after them for a few hours and then come back to work. And they can key in and out using their mobile phone. That kind of ultra-flexibility can help councils attract more people to work for them.’

The company has also been working with customers to support remote and home working arrangements during COVID-19. ‘Home working doesn’t suit everyone,’ Rowsome points out. ‘And we have designed a module to record who’s at home, but also allows people request days in the office. We are currently developing a building capacity module which will indicate when a building is full, in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, and deny access after that.’

Another innovation already available is a temperature checking function on entry terminals. The company’s next development project is an employee engagement and attendance module to help overcome the sense of isolation associated with home working. ‘Enterprise Ireland has supported us with that project, and we hope to have that ready for the market in the third quarter of next year.’

This article is advertorial content from Enterprise Ireland

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