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VoIP in the Public Sector

Digital transformation is the hot topic at the moment and while there’s plenty of new technologies that are on offer, it’s VoIP in the public sector which could have the greatest impact.

“When procuring new or existing services, public sector organisations should consider and fully evaluate potential cloud solutions first before considering any other option.”

This was the key message given in the government’s 2013 “Cloud First” policy which stipulated that such an approach was mandatory for central government and strongly recommended for the wider public sector.

For some years now, digital transformation has been high priority for the UK Government, but it isn’t just Westminster wanting to revolutionise. Every sector organisation – from county councils and libraries to the NHS and police forces – is looking at ways in which to improve, modernise and rapidly implement technological advances.

But while a huge chunk of digital transformation is rightly focussed on device technologies and “stellar” projects, the success of any change initiative will need to rest on a bedrock of efficiency, reliability and scalability of infrastructure – and this has to start with business bread and butter – telecommunications.

The role of voice communication is seldom talked about when planning big, disruptive innovation. And while it’s understandable that focus naturally shift towards the possibilities that IoT and AI can offer, the reality is that many parts of the sector will always need to conduct their business over the phone – especially the emergency services and healthcare.

Now, that doesn’t mean that all efforts should be focussed on telephony but it does mean that voice needs to be included as an integral part of a wider and more unified comms plan alongside social media, text and apps.

Ultimately, it is down to individual organisations to decide which of their services are better off being carried out digitally and which need to remain traditional. Many of us are already adept at banking online, paying for parking using our mobiles and going online to renew our car tax, yet booking GP appointments and reporting crimes will likely always be done via traditional methods.

But decision makers need to stop seeing “over the phone” as such a restriction. The dawn of HSCN connectivity in the healthcare sector is opening doors to a more unified way of working, enabling healthcare providers to better communicate with each other and with patients in order to provide the best possible care.

So if the public can so readily accept online banking or Gov.uk, they will almost certainly see the advantages of communicating with their GP via VoIP or video conferencing services for medication reviews or to discuss disability allowances – whilst still considering it to be “over the phone”.

So while it may be tempting to follow the trend of text, the public sector needs to maintain a strong and stable voice in times of change. Hosted telephony can ensure that that happens.

This article originally featured Public Sector Focus Magazine, Jul/Aug 2018