Former Staffordshire County Council CIO Sander Kristel has started in a new role as ‘director of commercial and change’ at Worcestershire County Council.
As of this week, Kristel (pictured) will be responsible for all support services at the council apart from finance, with IT remaining part of his remit.
He hopes to focus on strengthening commercial nous at Worcestershire and make the organisation more proactive by using technology and digital tools.
Speaking to ComputerworldUK, he said: “We’ve got to drive down demand and I think there’s a lot digital can do to help. It can help support early intervention to make sure people don’t get into the system in the first place.
“For example, we can use assistive technology to alert us if someone falls over, so we can respond and help them automatically and they don’t need to go into a care home. If digital means we can keep people in their homes for longer, that would be really good news.”
However Kristel warned too many organisations are not moving to a ‘digital culture’ and are still stuck focusing on ‘channel shift’.
He said: “I don’t think it’s happening sufficiently. We lack in-house digital and developer skills and we’re too focused on channel shift. Channel shift means the same number of transactions but just a different channel…I want people to focus on the entire customer experience.”
Kristel said he will continue to go to G-Cloud as his first port of call for IT investments but would like to see changes to the framework to make it more attractive to local authorities.
While “extremely supportive” of the initiative, he said: “We need to get together a group of local CIOs, dig down and go through why they haven’t used it to a larger extent.”
He claimed poor supplier behaviour is holding down take-up and suggested the two-year cap for deals could be increased.
“Still, quite a lot, I see suppliers that don’t put their best price on G-Cloud. They say if you go for three years instead of two they will give you a better price,” he said.
Kristel warned local government may also be held back from taking advantage of the trend for ‘big data’.
Although he examined possibilities for using data analytics tools at Staffordshire, he said “we came to the conclusion that the way we look at data is just not sophisticated enough yet…that’s probably the situation within a lot of local authorities”.
However Kristel said he plans to generate more predictive data in future, as predicting demand will become increasingly important amid ongoing budget cuts.