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Small businesses offer the big ideas for better public service

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Partnering innovative SMEs with central government can help the civil service work smarter in the digital age, writes Tim Skinner, head of central government at BT.

In an increasingly digital world, central government faces new challenges. Citizens want instant online access to services on various devices. Meanwhile, your own people need to work more effectively, too.

Against this backdrop of changing organisation models, citizen demands and employee attitudes, technology plays its part – and it’s a key role.

The UK Government knows it needs to find innovative new ways to connect with and serve the public – and we think we know how to help.

Committed to better public services

Working with 1,800 public sector customers, we understand the challenges you face. For decades, we’ve been using technology to help transform defence, police, local government, central government, and health. Our portfolio’s depth and breadth help us deliver end-to-end solution.

Why BT Customer Experience – We believe there’s much to customer relationships than satisfaction scores. from BT Business on Vimeo.

The importance of innovation

But we understand technology moves fast, that’s why we’ve spent over £2.5bn on research and development over the last five years, and why we plan to invest another £10bn over the next five.

As well as conducting research at our labs at Adastral Park, we employ 14,000 scientists and technologists worldwide to help us stay ahead of the curve.

Why BT Brilliant Innovation - We think there’s no limit to where brilliant innovation can come from. from BT Business on Vimeo.

Fostering new digital talent

However, we’ve long recognised that the biggest and brightest of ideas can often come from relatively small beginnings. That’s why we also work hand in hand with entrepreneurs and the start-up community.

In partnership with TechHub, our Infinity Lab programme identifies and amplifies innovative ideas through a series of competition and events. The prize for winning small and medium businesses can include a cash prize, six months mentoring, and the opportunity to test and develop products for our customers.

Why BT UK Digital Champion – We’re championing life-changing digital technology in the UK from BT Business on Vimeo.

Partnering tech start-ups with public services

We think the ideas these small businesses dream up could also help central government’s digital transformation. This is why the BT Infinity Awards, which gives small and medium companies the opportunity to apply their solutions to real world challenges, includes a public sector category.

Judged in partnership with the Cabinet Office, the public-sector winner at this year’s awards was Designed to improve customer experience in online chats, the technology crafts real-time reply suggestions, reducing customer service agent response times by 25%. It is ideally suited to easing workload pressures in departments that have large volumes of customer calls, such as HM Revenue and Customs.

John Manzoni, permanent secretary for the Cabinet Office and chief executive of the civil service, said: “The reforms we're undertaking across the civil service will only be achievable if we harness the latest in innovative technology. So I'm delighted we could be a part of this exciting awards process which encourages innovative solutions and provides us another great opportunity to engage and encourage SMEs.”

Six months on, discover how we’ve helped our Infinity Award winners develop their products in our new video.

Mapping our Blueprint for the Future

To learn more about how technology can transform public services, and how we can help start-ups foster solutions, why not attend our Blueprint for the Future event? John Manzoni will discuss the topic with Colm O’Neill, managing director of BT Public Sector; and Suzannah Brecknell, acting editor of Civil Service World.

The event will take place at the iconic BT Tower in London, on 15 January 2019.

For more information:

E: [email protected]


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