Why local authorities need more use of digital to optimise “Economic Development.”

Economic development creates wealth and improves prosperity for those within an economy. But, more importantly, sound economic development policy uplifts communities and brings prosperity to those that live there, which is why it remains top of the agenda for local authorities.

But what is good for some can spell doom and gloom for others.

For a long time, local authorities have invested in programmes seeking to increase the value of economic activity within their electoral boundaries. However, the rapid shift to work from home and e-commerce over the past two years has meant that the local high streets have borne the brunt of shifting spending patterns that have moved closer to people’s homes. It has left once-thriving areas high and dry and local authorities grappling with the challenge of how to fix it.

It can feel like an insurmountable challenge that lies ahead for the local authorities, but soon they will realise that they do not need to go it alone. Some technologies assist with creating more coordinated plans for reimagining business activity. The future requires a new way of thinking, one which links people and businesses together to help increase activities in areas that now have a lower footfall.

Vibrant economies create greater business rate receipts and optimism. And when personal relationships brought about by the increased camaraderie and sense of shared success begin to flourish, it has a snowball effect – many others seek to become part of the movement, too.
However, the critical challenge is creating the critical mass where activities multiply without additional investment from already-cash strapped local authorities.

Bring on the technology.

Complex tasks are made easier with intelligent technology, and turning to tech can provide the competitive edge in attracting new business.
Having a 360-degree view of businesses within a local authority’s boundaries is time-consuming to prepare manually, but technology can make it far easier and more efficient. Take the Crown Commercial Service Framework as an example. This is a crowd-populated database used by suppliers to secure Government contracts. What started as a formality for businesses wanting to do business with the government has become a vast database that our government can communicate with centrally.

Local authorities may be able to use the same principle to create a database of businesses within their boundaries and gain insights into their needs and aspirations. With centralised data and sophisticated visualisations, it is possible to draw conclusions, identify gaps, and target areas for improvement.

Only then is it possible to focus resources effectively to achieve the best possible return on investment? Indeed it is more valuable to pre-empt and prompt than wait for someone in the community to fill a gap serendipitously?

But what technology and how?

Salesforce is one of the best of breed in the Gartner magic quadrant for CRM solutions. Therefore, local authorities should seriously consider its merits, even if other established technology platforms are in place.

It has been deployed in some of the most sophisticated and complex businesses globally, which speaks to its capability and ease of integration. Salesforce will provide local authorities with top quality business analysis and information to make appropriate business decisions.

A Salesforce platform is quick to adopt, extremely flexible, and effortless to reconfigure for changing and immediate business needs.

Integrated into specialist applications like finance or SMS messaging, Salesforce delivers powerful insights and communications that encourage direct action. And marketing automation solutions can be used proactively to build up lists and start relationships with potential new business candidates interested in moving into an area.

The solution to success is hopefully a simple one. For the first time, local authorities can take control of their destiny and foster a thriving economic development zone using smart technology to help build it successfully. This is undoubtedly better than simply waiting and hoping – in the face of the Micawber principle – that “something will turn up”!

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