There are challenges today that Public Sector leaders want and need to remedy, such as the increasing pressure to deliver more, while dealing with concerns around not knowing what is going to happen from a political standpoint. That’s why last week, Perfect Image and Microsoft held a seminar in Newcastle for local Public Sector organisations to share how they could enable and leverage a modern workplace. Overall the event received an average satisfaction score of 96% from attendees, who also rated the usefulness of information as 99%! Read on to find out why attendees rated the seminar so highly and discover the top highlights.

Enabling & Leveraging a Modern Workplace for Public Sector Event

The Challenges Faced By Public Sector and How To Solve Them

What is a modern workplace? Microsoft enthuses that a modern workplace is, “A secure and integrated environment that unlocks teamwork and creativity in your organization, all of which is enabled and empowered by Microsoft 365.”

Ritesh Pau, Senior Territory Manager of Public Sector at Microsoft, explained that Public Sector organisations are struggling with many legacy systems that were fantastic back in their time, but because the landscape has changed quite drastically, they aren’t providing the user experience that citizens expect. Ritesh said, “This is not just about business processes. It’s about experience. Whether it’s patients or tenants or a worker, you want to provide the best service.”

For citizens, this means improving their experience with quick responses to enquiries and increasing online and multidevice opportunities for contact. For employees, this means empowering them to do their best work with smoother, optimised operations and consolidating systems to seamlessly connect with each other, reducing the need for form filling and duplicate data entry.

Ritesh Pau, Senior Territory Manager of Public Sector at Microsoft

Exploring the Microsoft Power Platform – Build Self-Service Solutions in Minutes

Paul Rutter, Head of Solution Architecture at Perfect Image, explained that since 1975 our business processes haven’t changed much, it has always been “forms over data”. Organisations were very reactive. A customer would ring up about a broken product, that is logged in a form with the data sat underneath, then someone would be dispatched to fix it. All the while, the customer has downtime until the engineer fixes the product. In today’s new world, we need to become much more proactive.

As Paul said, “Across your businesses you will have lots of data – probably siloed, probably in Excel. However, that data will tell you lots of information about your customers and service. What we can do is bring that data together and get value from it using Microsoft’s common data model. The data we’ve got in our businesses is one of the most valuable sources we have.”

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The common data model is a store of data connecting all of your Microsoft products, stored in the Microsoft cloud. Rather than waiting for the customer to call, we can use data, stored in Azure, to run anomaly detection models and understand the device is going to break. The system will automatically schedule a field service engineer to visit the customer and do preventative maintenance, and the customer has no downtime.

Paul said, “If you can use PowerPoint and Excel, you can use Power Apps. How do we surface the insights from data back to our end user, how do we get all of this value out into the field? We use Dynamics 365 and Office 365, mobile apps and web apps. On any device, anywhere, at any time.Live and in front of an audience of more than thirty people, Paul built a working mobile app using Power Apps, connected it to SharePoint to extract data into the app, and built in an automated workflow to define processes using Flow.

The app uses a custom vision model, an AI model, to identify electric metres based on photos (that are then stored in the cloud) to call up relevant data about the metre’s model. Then Paul used Reactive Cards, embedded in Teams, to send automated notifications to back-office workers. This took just minutes, and used no code – it’s formulae, much like Excel.

Paul Rutter, Head of Solution Architecture at Perfect Image

Customer Story: Karbon Homes

We were delighted to have John Sammons, IT Director of Karbon Homes speaking about the organisation’s transition towards using more Microsoft tools, and in particular, Power Apps. They were experiencing challenges of using on-premise systems that weren’t ideal for use outside of their office, and that people kept requesting applications that were flashy but had no integration to their other applications or services, used different usernames and passwords, and they didn’t know where the data was actually stored.

To begin, they moved their staff from an Exchange server to Office 365 – and that took just three weeks. They decided they didn’t need flashy apps or to risk their data to meet certain business needs. With some consultancy from Perfect Image to help quickly build their skills internally, they created their first Power App mobile application in just three weeks. It enables operatives to see real-time information pulled from four separate systems about where jobs are and the status of staff (whether they are travelling or at the location). To call someone you tap the phone app, to get the route you tap a button and are taken straight to Apple Maps for the most efficient route.

Six hundred of their eight hundred staff work in the field and they needed on-the-go access to customer and property information. To do this they built their second application. Staff can now see demographic information on local residents, tenancy flags, vulnerabilities, residents and property map, property information, whether asbestos is present, and so much more. It took just two weeks to develop. They can now access CRM and update records from their phone.

In version three, they are going to start exporting additional information into the app using SharePoint lists. They also want to start using AI Vision and building customer portals to report issues. They also want to start embedding more Power BI into the apps so staff can drill into what is going on in their areas. All of this work means customers receive a better service and employees are empowered to do their jobs better.

John Sammons, IT Director of Karbon Homes

Customer Story: Northern Housing Consortium

We had another fantastic customer story from James Fairless, Head of IT & Development at Northern Housing Consortium. He explained that a few years ago, they were using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Version 4, and one day the system went down. After an hour, James wondered why no one had flagged to him that the system had failed. After some investigation he learned that the system wasn’t as central to their operations as he had assumed. People were only using it when told to by managers, and instead had Excel lists of data stored on their machines. This needed to change.

They upgraded to Dynamics 2013 and things started to improve, but when the time came to upgrade again, they made the choice to move to the cloud with Microsoft Dynamics 365 as a base and build their own configurations on top, working with Perfect Image as a Microsoft partner to do this. James said, “We now have a central store of data that is correct, accurate and up to date. We can rely on it as an organisation. Because it’s stored in a Microsoft secure environment, it’s no longer a concern from a security point of view.”

Their next phase of creating a modern workplace is “My NHC”, a member-facing portal that is connected seamlessly into Dynamics. This will give members a self-service way to interact with NHC at any time, on any device. They will also integrate their marketing efforts into Microsoft Portals to create automated workflows based on a user’s interaction with campaigns, and for better visibility. Portals will also handle their events and registrations. All of this together builds up a picture of the individuals and an overview of their organisation, so NHC can learn more about their members and provide an even better service. They get a deeper level of business intelligence they didn’t have with their previously disjointed systems.

In the future they want to use Microsoft Cognitive Services and use the language services for sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis takes their emails and conversations with customers and intelligently decides whether it is a positive or negative conversation. They can use this information to take action and strengthen relationships.

James Fairless, Head of IT & Development at Northern Housing Consortium

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