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Written by Eduardo Cruz, Regional VP Sales – UK & Northern Europe

Citizens have come to expect a certain level of digital interaction with all organisations — even public sector ones. From council tax payments to parking permits, refuse collection to street lighting, public sector organisations interact with the majority of the population in many different ways. As digital technologies continue to permeate our daily lives, the challenges and opportunities presented by such technologies are forcing local and national bodies to adapt to this digital transformation trend.

Today, local councils are not only tasked with doing more with less money, they must also meet increasing digital demands from technology savvy constituents. Indeed the era of digital transformation offers public sector organisations the unique opportunity to implement new technologies to move services online, which will help to deliver greater operating efficiencies while meeting the demands placed upon them.

Although there are inherent challenges in digital transformation, public sector organisations can begin to make lasting changes, but this doesn’t have to be a big bang approach.  This can be done in incremental steps within a larger digital transformation initiative to gain support and buy-in from other stakeholders around the organisation.

Let me give you an example. Worcestershire County Council together with OutSystems was able to deliver its first live app within eight weeks, as part of a bigger digital transformation initiative to take its services online, which the council estimates saved around £1.6m in one year. The council hopes that by continuing on its goal of achieving 100% of services being delivered online, the organisation can achieve genuine channel shift while cutting its costs and also making interaction easier for citizens.

What challenges are stifling digital transformation?

That said there are many challenges that public sector organisations face when embarking on digital transformation. These include:

Funding: Finding the necessary funding to start a new project is always a challenge. Currently, public sector organisations face a dilemma: They must do more with less while trying to meet new customer demands. That said, when budget allocations are invested in new, more efficient digital technologies, long-term costs are reduced for manual processes. While public sector budgets are challenged by a myriad of valid political pressures, the opportunity to innovate is game changing if they can get the funding to work on new digital initiatives.

Shorter time frames: Public sector budgets are tied with political cycles, which means that new projects must show results quickly for constituents. We were able to deliver an app in eight weeks for Worcestershire County Council so if approached correctly this is doable.  Gathering political support to invest in digital technologies is a way for public sector organisations to achieve lasting impact.

System issues: Many public sector organisations operate a range of outdated systems that need replacement. This is directly related to the first two challenges. When a public sector organisation is prepared to replace a system, digital capabilities should be included in the system refresh.

To tackle these challenges, organisations need to take a systematic approach that starts with internal approval and ends with a long-term outlook. Digital transformation requires a top-down approach. It starts with the Chief Executive and must be embraced by all the internal stakeholders. The support of these individuals is needed to gather the political approval to action change. In addition, the support and active involvement of department heads are needed to make the goals of the digital initiative and effectively migrate away from old systems and processes.

The benefits of digital transformation

Although numerous challenges can make it difficult to start a digital transformation initiative in the public sector, the opportunity for greater efficiencies and growth justifies the journey. Here are 10 benefits of digital transformation in the public sector:

  • Better ability to meet customer expectations
  • Increased cross collaboration between departments
  • Greater agility within IT to meet the business needs
  • Improved competitive position within the market
  • Higher level of innovation across the business
  • Faster strategic decision making
  • Increased business growth
  • Faster time to productivity in core areas
  • Reduced costs of doing business
  • Reduced IT costs

If public sector organisations can obtain the required internal support, as well as gain the much needed funding and showcase a positive ROI, then they will be able to readily make improvements that will yield short-term operating efficiencies and lay the groundwork for long-term success. Achieving a few quick wins early on will help to gain the momentum that is needed for the long-term process of digitally transforming your public sector organisation. This is exactly what Worcestershire County Council did and the benefits have literally transformed the way the council operates today.


Cycling boom pushes Halfords annual profit towards 100 million pounds



Cycling boom pushes Halfords annual profit towards 100 million pounds 1

(Reuters) – Halfords forecast an over 60% jump in its annual profit and said it would repay the near 11 million pounds it received in government furlough support as the bicycle retailer benefits from a cycling boom during lockdowns.

Shares in the company jumped another 16% to 335 pence by 0830 GMT on Monday, having surged more than six-fold from pandemic lows hit in March.

The company, which also does motoring services and sells car parts, said its overall business has been performing stronger than anticipated despite volatile trading in the first seven weeks of the fourth quarter.

Halfords estimated annual underlying pretax profit of between 90 million pounds and 100 million pounds ($125.78 million and $139.75 million) for the year ending in March, compared with 55.9 million pounds a year earlier.

Peel Hunt analysts raised their annual profit estimate to 95 million pounds from 76 million pounds after the unscheduled trading update and suggested that Halfords was likely reinstate its dividend sometime this year.

Halfords, which availed 10.7 million in furlough support from the government, had said in July it could make a loss of 10 million pounds for fiscal 2021 under a worst-case scenario.

But in the first seven weeks of the fourth quarter, Halfords’ like-for-like sales for cycling rose 43%, offsetting a 14% fall in its high-margin motoring businesses.

Cycling also drove a more than doubling of interim profits in November as Britons took up the hobby to avoid public transport, as well as for its appeal as a healthier alternative.

($1 = 0.7156 pounds)

(Reporting by Chris Peters and Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Aditya Soni)

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Eurofins launches prescription-free COVID-19 test, eyes further growth



Eurofins launches prescription-free COVID-19 test, eyes further growth 2

(Reuters) – Eurofins Scientific announced on Monday the launch of a prescription-free at-home COVID-19 PCR test, as the French laboratories and diagnostics company eyed further growth.

The group, which has launched an array of COVID-19 testing products it sells to governments, airlines and transport hubs, said the nasal swab test could be ordered online for $99 or bought at pharmacies across the United States.

It specified that although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had authorised the at-home test under an emergency use authorisation, it had not cleared or approved the product.

“We are also working very closely with European authorities for the approval of similar direct-to-consumer products,” said the group’s chief executive Gilles Martin in a statement.

The group also reported 2020 results ahead of its own targets as it lowered its 2022 guidance and set out new goals for 2023.

Eurofins estimated that its COVID-19 testing and reagents brought in over 800 million euros of the 5.44 billion euros ($6.57 billion) in revenue for 2020.

However, Eurofins said its other businesses had been hit by lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions, particularly impacting its sales to clients in the travel industry, events, restaurants and clinical trials.

The group confirmed its forecasts for this year, but said results could be materially higher should COVID-19 testing continue at the current levels.

A level of coronavirus testing and market disruptions could well continue into 2022, it added, if vaccination programmes do not build sufficient immunity in many countries by summer, or if the more infectious variants reduce their effectiveness.

Excluding further COVID-19 revenues and assuming markets return to normal by the start of next year, it lowered its 2022 revenue target to 5.45 billion euros from 5.7 billion, and its core earnings forecast to 1.30 billion from 1.35 billion.

For 2023, it forecast sales (excluding COVID-19 products) of 5.73 billion euros and core earnings of 1.38 billion.

($1 = 0.8275 euros)

(Reporting by Sarah Morland in Gdansk; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Louise Heavens)

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Ladbrokes owner Entain raises offer for rival Enlabs to $440 million



Ladbrokes owner Entain raises offer for rival Enlabs to $440 million 3

(Reuters) – Ladbrokes owner Entain on Monday raised its cash offer for rival Swedish sports betting firm Enlabs AB to value it at around 3.7 billion crowns ($440.16 million) and said it would not increase the price further.

The British company raised its cash offer to 53 crowns per share from an earlier 40 crowns per share, an 18.6% premium to Enlabs shares’ last close.

Shares of Entain were up 1.7% at 1,437.5 pence in early trading.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a flurry of deals in the bookmaking sector, with potential buyers seeking to capitalise on a surge in online betting from customers confined to their homes during lockdowns.

“In a highly competitive and regulated industry, where consolidation is a key theme, Entain is able to provide the scale and platform needed to further support Enlabs’ long-term growth,” Entain’s chief financial officer and deputy CEO, Rob Wood, said in a statement.

Baltic-focussed Enlabs, which operates brands such as Optibet and NinjaCasino, has recommended shareholders accept the increased offer.

Under the leadership of former CEO Shay Segev, Entain, formerly known as GVC Holdings, planned to expand in sports betting and gaming entertainment, while exiting unregulated markets by 2023.

($1 = 8.4060 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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