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managing infrastructure investment

Managing infrastructure investment takes a certain kind of technology

from  September 14, 2020 | 4 min read

We predicted the public sector should expect more investment in infrastructure and, despite the pandemic, large-scale investment is proceeding apace. The difficulty will come in managing it all. Organizations will need technology that’s integrated, intuitive and intelligent to cope.

Against the backdrop of COVID-19 and mounting economic challenges, the UK public sector is plowing ahead with a massive program of investment in infrastructure.

In the 2020 budget in March the Chancellor outlined the five-year plan. “£640 billion of gross capital investment will be provided for roads, railways, communications, schools, hospitals and power networks across the UK by 2024-25.”[1]

Projects include filling in 50 million potholes, improving rural broadband, building flood defenses and refurbishing higher education colleges. While much of this will be managed through public-private partnerships (PPP) and private investment in infrastructure (PII), the ultimate responsibility for delivery will fall on government.

So how will public sector organizations struggling to cope with the pressures of the pandemic manage all these infrastructure investment projects – and what kind of technology will they need? We believe they will need technology that is integrated, intuitive and intelligent.

Managing investment in physical infrastructure

This year alone, $124 billion will be invested worldwide in smart city projects [2] to improve mobility and parking, traffic flow and emissions, public spaces and buildings, and water and waste management.

But there are many other types of physical infrastructure receiving investment. The policy of the UK National Infrastructure Commission is to invest in low-carbon energy, digital technology, roads, housing, flood defenses and recycling. [3]

The organizations responsible for delivering these projects have to have very sophisticated operational management capabilities. They have to plan and monitor projects, marshal materials and resources, make purchases and payments – and control financing.

To even attempt this, organizations need enterprise resource management (ERP) software that’s integrated with their financial planning and analysis (FP&A) system, so they can manage operations and finance together. Their FP&A package should facilitate scenario planning so they can run what-if models in the event that plans have to change.

Both systems should be cloud-based, not just because it’s Government policy, but because they’re more flexible and lend themselves to shared services. If they’re also low-code/no-code they’ll be easy to configure without relying on outside consultants.

Investing in the digital experience

The public sector is also investing in digital infrastructure. The UK Government’s digital strategy policy includes investing £1 billion in accelerating the rollout of fiber broadband and 5G mobile. [4]

This will help the public sector to treat citizens more like customers and give them the kind of experience they’ve come to expect as consumers. Digital communications will allow citizens to interact with public sector organizations the way they want to.

At Unit4, we believe that if you improve the experience of the people who work for you, the people they serve will feel it. That’s why we build software that transforms work by working the way people want to.

Our public sector software is intuitive to use. This increases people’s engagement at work, which in turn makes them more productive. By prioritizing what we call People Experience, we help your teams do more of what matters – helping citizens and communities to thrive.

The infrastructure of anticipatory services

The public sector has reacted amazingly to the COVID-19 pandemic, but its long-term intention is to become more proactive by investing in the infrastructure of anticipatory government.

“Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) allow governments to target likely problems before they erupt into crises. Recent advancements in natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, and speech and image recognition have made it possible for government to predict and anticipate problems rather than react to them.” [5]

This futuristic-sounding world is possible now. First, you need enterprise systems that are integrated so you can collate all the data you need for analysis in real-time. Then you set your AI-powered predictive analytics to look for patterns and anticipate needs.

Our enterprise software for the public sector uses artificial intelligence to automate operations. Staff can interact with a natural-language digital assistant that takes care of their routine admin, raising purchase requests, submitting timesheets or approving workflow tasks.

Get ready to invest in your future

For one British public sector shared services provider, Hoople, the benefits of supporting infrastructure investment with the right kind or enterprise software are clear. Mark Person, Business and Corporate Applications Manager said, “The improved visibility, workflow, flexibility, time and costs savings mean that our customers are ideally placed to meet the challenges they face today and in the future.”

For more on how our software can help you achieve operational efficiency, empower your employees and improve citizen services, go to the Unit4 Public Sector website.

[1] UK Government Budget 2020, Policy Paper

[2] Worldwide Smart Cities Spending Guide, IDC, 2020

[3] UK National Infrastructure Commission, National Infrastructure Assessment, 2018

[4] UK Government Digital Strategy Policy Paper 2017

[5] Government Trends 2020, Deloitte Center for Government Insights

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