‘Location Aware CRM and Cloud Computing: Considerations for Public Sector Organisations’ examines the confluence between the strong element of geographical information at the heart of many local government services and the increasing popularity of delivering online applications via SaaS (Software as a Service) models.
Location Aware CRM refers to the integration of location intelligence – from geo-data such as postcodes to visual mapping – with the underlying core disciplines of CRM, such as data quality, data integration, customer communications management and data-as-a-service (DaaS). Location Aware CRM systems can identify where a citizen-centric issue exists, who owns responsibility for that issue, and who in government should respond and react to it. This in turn enables public sector organisations to manage vital resources more efficiently and effectively to meet the needs of their citizens.
Location Aware CRM can also help citizens to navigate through the organisational layers of the public sector to find the person or department who should have responsibility for the request or problem, from identifying parking zones to reporting vandalism. End-to-end management of the citizen request, based on location-specific information, can filter and allocate requests to the most appropriate government official or body to deal with it. By using location-led analysis and trends coupled with a CRM workflow, agencies can allocate and re-allocate resources based on current needs and predict future trends to solve problems proactively.
While the public sector has historically driven the uptake of Location Aware CRM, it has nevertheless been held back by common issues associated with data and hardware-intensive IT environments. These include the need for data centres and high bandwidth connectivity to house and run the applications, plus the staff costs of managing and supporting the applications – all of which has traditionally made it difficult to justify investment in and thus development of Location Aware CRM and associated applications.
Cloud Computing (or SaaS) shows how these issues can be overcome. Infrastructure costs can be significantly reduced – and in some cases eliminated – as can the associated person hours. Cloud applications and databases can be accessed using commodity web browsers, while organisations are able to increase their online storage capacity without investing in or deploying on-premise storage technology – this is particularly key because location-based data is often very ‘heavy’ and requires ‘space’ in which to be manipulated and used.
Running Location Aware CRM systems in the cloud can also assist in creating an environment in which citizen-centricity is empowered, with systems capable of being flexibly geared towards services that users actually require rather than being driven by the limitations of the technology. At the same time, a cloud-based location intelligence model makes it easier for public sector organisations to comply with the requirements of the 2009 INSPIRE regulations, which requires data holders to record specific location-based data in an online register by the end of 2010.
However, while the recent promotion of concepts such as the G-Cloud – a way for central and local government departments to share hosted applications – suggest that the public sector is ultimately committed to Cloud Computing, there are thousands of on-premise systems and applications already in place that aren’t about to be ripped out any time soon. As such, the white paper recommends that public sector organisations partner with technology companies who can credibly bridge the gap between both worlds, demonstrating expertise in both on-premise Location Aware CRM and its cloud-based future.