Remember when folks thought ecommerce was a passing fad? It seems like a lifetime ago, but there really was a time when experts believed buyers would tire of exploring cumbersome websites and clunky online catalogs, causing us to flock back to brick-and-mortar shopping malls and big box stores.
Sometimes the “experts” get it wrong. Sure enough, websites got less cumbersome, catalogs less clunky, and ecommerce was not just here to stay – it was taking over the world. Those malls and big boxes now sit mostly empty. And along the way, a different trend began to emerge: customer expectations skyrocketed. We have normalised the idea that we can order something at night and wake up in the morning to find it on our doorstep. While precious few organisations have the efficiencies of scale to make that happen, the buying public now expects it across the board. Indeed, our expectations with respect to customer service have evolved and escalated in a perhaps unsustainable way.
Importantly, this sea change in customer behavior is not limited to purchases of consumer goods, like clothes, electronics and pet food. It extends to service organisations, as well – and that includes local councils and regional governments. That’s right, we expect even our councils to offer greater convenience, faster speeds, improved accuracy, complete transparency and individual personalisation. It’s a giant ask of an industry that has traditionally evolved at a snail’s pace.
Sure, it is a big ask, but the Microsoft technology stack – specifically Dynamics 365 and Power Platform – enables councils to achieve those lofty goals. In this two-part blog series from HCL’s Microsoft Business Applications Practice, we’ll explore the technology that is revolutionising customer service delivery in government. In today’s first installment, we’ll examine the technology transformation from the perspective of back-office processes – the inner workings of the business. In two weeks, we’ll wrap up the series by digging into front-office service delivery – the ever-important customer-facing component of government. Enjoy!
Back-office Technology Transformation in Government
On the surface, it may seem counterintuitive that back-office technology – in government or any other industry – could play a significant role in managing, meeting, and hopefully exceeding the sky-high expectations of today’s customer. But the front office’s ability to deliver convenience, speed, accuracy, transparency, and personalisation is wholly dependent on the capabilities of the infrastructure and machinery running in the background. Microsoft technology serves as the infrastructure of the back office by providing best-in-class capabilities, starting with Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.
When councils choose Microsoft Business Applications as their ERP platform, they can handle anything that comes their way. Combining Office 365 with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance enables communication tracking and automation of all business processes, providing transparency and accuracy every step of the way. Dynamics 365 also enables direct connections and integrations with over 300 platforms so councils can instead focus on customer and citizen centricity. The cloud-based ERP platform leverages artificial intelligence and powerful insights through Power Platform.
Let’s face it: government is always in the eye of the public, and complete insight through business intelligence builds trust. Using Power Apps, you can build low-code apps for back-office processes to close existing gaps that cause discrepancies. Using Power Automate, you can streamline and automate the manual and tedious back-office processes that create inefficiencies and drive up costs. Using Power BI, you can take a proactive approach to asset management by knowing what you have, where you have it and whether it needs your attention before issues arise. Unleashing predictive maintenance in this way practically guarantees measurable savings in terms of time, resource and expense.
HCL’s Microsoft Business Applications Practice (MBAP) has a strong reputation for developing IP solutions that support the Microsoft stack, including PowerPack add-ons, implementation accelerators, and most recently our Power Rates tool. Built on Dynamics 365 Finance, Power Rates helps streamline the management of changing rates, charges, and property information while considering date changes for all variables when calculating rates to be charged. The Power Rates calculator allows for a comprehensive Property Record, serving as the one true source for billings – ideal for councils.
The paradigm shift in consumer and citizen behavior is indeed real. Failing to adapt to the shift through adoption of new technology could be the death knell for businesses and councils alike. As we’ve discussed, however, the Microsoft technology stack and HCL’s MBAP have the innovative solutions to get the back-office operation running in top form. And when the back office is in top form, it opens a world of possibilities for what can be achieved in the front of the house!
Looking Ahead: Omnichannel Engagement in Government
In two weeks, we’ll revisit customer service delivery in Government in a post focused on front-office and customer-facing processes. Citizen expectations may be through the roof, but that doesn’t mean councils can’t meet (and perhaps even exceed) them. We’ll explore personalised omnichannel engagement, self-help portals, and seamless connectivity between the back and front offices. Stay tuned!