UK councils could save an average of £10.3 million each a year by fully realising the cost-saving potential of mobile technologies, according to figures released today by IT consultancy Bluefin Solutions.
The savings break down as £2.7 million from allowing employees to use mobile-accessed collaboration platforms, boosting productivity; £2.7 million by making more service data available to front-line staff on mobiles, improving efficiency; £2.2 million through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, boosting flexible working; £1.6 million by expanding online services so more citizens can serve themselves using mobile devices; and £1.1 million by enabling employees to submit timesheets and expenses using a mobile device.
The savings were calculated by extrapolating business benefits data from the company's private sector clients, combined with publicly available information from sources such Forrester Research and Socitm.
"There are savings figures that we believe can be achieved by doing stuff that isn't being done today", Chris Smith, head of public sector at Bluefin Solutions, told UKAuthority.com.
"If you take the citizen self-service figure for instance, we saw evidence across a number of councils to suggest that many of them are still at low digital maturity."
Problems are particularly acute for online services accessed on mobile devices, Smith said. "I experienced this personally when we experienced floods in my local village, and I was trying to access information from my council's website. You just cannot find the information you need if you are using a smart device or a tablet: it is clearly only optimised for a desktop, so if you are out in the floods and accessing on a mobile, it is impossible."
Another area where savings are there to be gained through mobile innovation is in implementing employee social interaction platforms for businesses such as Jive, which facilitate online collaboration, allowing many people to help solve a case or problem, he said.
"Self-organising teams deliver better results. We have personal experience of that, and it has saved us considerable amounts of time and money getting solutions and results delivered. You can save up to 30 minutes per day per employee allowing them to use what they believe are the right tools, and sharing that information in a collaborative manner."
Other mobile tools can help save money on back-office administration costs, by helping staff carry out simple admin tasks such as expenses claims in a much more convenient manner, Smith said.
"So when I come to end of the day, I can quickly put my expenses or time in using my mobile phone, maybe photograph my expense receipts, job done. I don't have to wait until the end of the week, enter the information into a laptop, scan in receipts - I can do them as I go."
If measures such as this even just save each employee 10 minutes a week, it multiplies into significant savings, he said, as one of his company's customers - a large UK retail bank - had found out recently.
"Some of the work we have done in this area is in the private sector, and what we are trying to do is bridge the gap with public sector."
Overall, one of the main factors holding back public sector bodies from maximizing the potential savings from mobile technologies is the fact they tend to take short-term views, he said.
"Public sector organisations are not recognising you need to spend some money to save some money. Only the true innovators are understanding that mobile can be an enabler to achieve the transformation they need and to realize cost savings."
Pictured: Chris Smith, head of public sector at Bluefin Solutions.
Bluefin Solutions: www.bluefinsolutions.com