Nobody puts robotics in the corner: Why are some local authorities so against introducing AI?

28th June 2022

Disruption of technology deployment, fear of introducing robots along front-line workers and concerns over cost are just some of the misconceptions local authorities have when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI). As a result, many councils are failing to understand how integrating AI will undoubtedly improve their day-to-day operations and bring long-term value to their organisation.

Stronger CX for the most vulnerable customers 

The last few years have seen a rise in vulnerable people, so it is fundamental now more than ever for councils to improve their services for residents within their boroughs. Councils, with multiple teams, are feeling the strain and need to shake up their traditional operating models and look forward to new and better ways of working. This is where virtual workers, or AI, can step in and provide breathing space for employees to focus less on mundane tasks and more on what matters. But what is it that puts so many councils off the idea of AI? And crucially, what risks do they face if they don’t adopt this technology?

Fear of the unknown, lack of budget or something else? 

According to our research report Future proofing CX How can organisations drive transformation effectively?, 46% continued to agree that the pace of CX transformation has increased since 2020 yet 35% of local government authorities have very little desire to be omnichannel. There seems to be misalignment in thinking for some councils, who are unable to visualise how becoming omnichannel could support them with the unification of data from multiple channels. This is where AI can step in.

For our research we interviewed a Head of Contact Centre at one of London’s largest local authorities. They revealed that although there is a desire to improve systems and processes, there is only just enough IT bandwidth to change systems – pointing to lack of budget as a possible reason behind slow adoption of new technology such as AI. Those councils that have been able to automate processes will witness first-hand how it can help reduce mundane tasks for employees and give them time to focus on more important activities, reducing the need for additional employees. And there are some interesting success stories out there, such as Caerphilly Council which recently began using AI across multiple areas – leading to significant monetary savings that could be reinvested back into service improvement and over 5,700 working hours released back into front line services.

There is also an emotional element at play when deciding whether to implement AI into operations. The mention of introducing AI to a workforce often creates the anxious response of employees feeling ‘replaced’. Over the years we have worked closely with clients to educate those that would be working alongside AI on the benefits, putting their minds at ease, and also showing them how AI can help develop new, and relevant, processes that will make their jobs easier.

Don’t fall behind

Many councils have already adopted or are exploring the potential of AI, but some councils are falling behind in the race to evolve, falling back on traditional working processes. Public behaviour, needs and expectations has changed. People want queries to be resolved swiftly, but to do this, council employees often need additional support – especially in times of disruption and increased vulnerability.

The domino effect local authorities can experience from implementing AI is undeniable and really quite simple: More efficient, streamlined working processes leads to happier, more productive employees, which in turn leads to more satisfied residents and happier communities. And what’s more, councils will have more money in their pocket to allocate where it is really needed.

Get in touch 

Whether you want to find out more information on AI or what we can do to support your council, please get in touch.

Craig John  
Global Director of Innovation 

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