Blog: New public sector IT buying behaviours

Now’s the time to take advantage of new public sector IT buying behaviours

According to a Gartner report from late-2020, while worldwide public sector budgets are predicted to show a 0.6% year-on-year reduction, key investment areas will continue to include digital public services, public health, social services, education and workforce reskilling. And in a period where COVID-19 is squeezing national economies, spending on IT software and telecoms is expected to continue to be buoyant.

Nevertheless, with governments looking for savings over the coming years in difficult economic times, there’s a growing realisation among IT and procurement teams that buying the cheapest tech ends up costing more in the long run. That’s especially true of contact centre solutions. And the last 12 months have lent credence to that assertion.

The drawbacks of on-prem systems

Trying to do more for less is nothing new for public sector organisations. They’ve turned it into an artform over the years. Contact centres are a great example. The default approach was to choose on-prem technology and sweat the assets for as long as possible, irrespective of software advances.

During the UK pandemic, public sector contact centres were very much part of the frontline response. Yet, many struggled to enact business continuity plans and deal with off-the-scale traffic spikes. In some cases, the lights literally went out. In others, they’re just flickering.

Resetting value judgements

COVID-19 triggered a scramble to migrate contact centres to the cloud. As a longstanding Genesys Gold Partner and cloud-first business, Foehn helped many public sector organisations accelerate their digital transformations and safely navigate through the crisis by spinning up efficient remote working models.

The 2020 events triggered a rethink of purchasing approaches. Adherence to public sector procurement tools like Network Services 2 and the G-Cloud Framework was still evident, coupled with bid evaluation methods like MEAT (most economically advantageous tender). However, we saw two step changes: customers discarded closed tenders in favour of opening the door to the best solution; and there was less weighting given to CapEx-heavy pricing considerations.

CCaaS: the playing field leveller

This wasn’t such great news for service providers who would previously pitch cheap proposals, dangling carrots like inexpensive calls to win business, and then look to increase prices over time. For example, adding product features and support services that should have been priced in from the start.

IT and procurement teams have seen through this trick. They’ve also realised that cloud technology offers greater accessible with more flexible licencing options than ever. Contact centre as a service (CCaaS) started out as the go-to technology for organisations running sub-500 seat contact centres. Today, it supports public sector organisations running thousands of seats, often across multiple sites.

CCaaS platforms aren’t all the same

The debate now is around choosing the right platform. And that’s tough because not all cloud contact centre solutions are created equal. Must-have requirements for public sector CCaaS tenders revolve around providing fast online citizen services, while perfecting the interface for people who prefer personal interactions. Four dimensions are at play.

  1. Joined-up journeys powered by automation and AI
    Today’s customers are even more demanding and less forgiving, especially under lockdowns. They’ll still expect amazing service and the freedom to choose how and when they engage. Phone, mobile, chat, SMS, social.
  2. Experience-as-a-Service
    Tough times means taking extra care of citizen groups ranging across different ages and backgrounds. That requires a platform enabling personalisation at scale combined with greater empathy and understanding.
  3. Blended remote workforce management
    For agents, public sector or elsewhere, blurring work and home life can lead to over-stressed, burnt-out employees. Having the right tools that work the same remotely as in the contact centre helps keep them motivated.
  4. Effective collaboration and support networks
    Capturing best practice and empowering agents to collaborate, learn and progress together means fewer complaints, less sick absence and savings on recruitment and training. That’s as true for COVID-19 conditions as it is for the next normal.

There’s another very important point. Before COVID-19, most IT and procurement people viewed unified communications and contact centre platforms as two separate purchases. Now, they’re part of the same buying decision. They need to seamlessly interoperate. Such benefits are firmly within reach for Foehn customers using Genesys Cloud. A view endorsed by the 2020 Gartner CCaaS Magic Quadrant where Genesys occupies top position.

Greater need for professional services

The public sector/service provider relationship has shifted too. IT and procurement teams are engaging suppliers earlier for discovery sessions, improving insight into solution design and technical requirements. Similarly, RFPs are probing for project management expertise. The payback is a smooth go-live with less risk of drift in downstream deliverables like system configurations, building out call flows, user training and acceptance testing.

For more detail on how Foehn is helping public sector customers optimise procurement strategies and get better value from their contact centre investments please call 0330 403 0000 or email [email protected]

More about the author
Julian Barrow

Julian Barrow is a sales leader at Foehn Ltd., committed to on-going service delivery excellence to clients and a commitment to exceptional customer experience. Julian’s experience ranges from large corporates and contact centres to SMBs and start-up businesses. As a Genesys Gold partner, Julian is a recognised leader in helping clients move to cloud contact centre and helping them realise the benefits of agility, innovation and scale. He is well-known in the industry for his understanding of both the technology and the importance of brilliant partnerships.