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November 16, 2017

How AWS Cloud turned a local council’s business model on its head

"If you’ve got a trustworthy and modern council body, you’ve got a recipe to achieve great things,” says AVDC Chief Exec Andrew Grant.

By April Slattery

It is not an exaggeration to say that AWS Cloud has transformed Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC), with the local council consolidating its architecture and reducing its staff by 30 to 40% under the five year deal with the tech giant.

Speaking to CBR’s April Slattery, Aylesbury Vale Chief Executive Andrew Grant said: “AWS has completely transformed the council. Had we not moved to the cloud we couldn’t rely on its ability to give you agility and a platform for growing a different business. Cloud allows us to be more digital and to innovate.

“Using a strategy of connected knowledge we’ve got to bring data and make better use of it to predict and anticipate the things that [residents] want to do next, not to catch up with what they are already doing.”

The local council was able to save a huge £6 million with the deployment of AWS Cloud, mainly attributed to the scaling down of its staff and being able to deliver services more efficiently. Benefits to the council’s infrastructure included the shift away from on-premise and enabling staff to work form anywhere, while cloud also enabled the council to scale and put residents at the heart of the operation.

“Our main element was our infrastructure and enabling our staff to be flexible to work any place any time. Having the ability to be flexible with scale and move staff around enables us to then focus on moving our focus towards customers and then penetrate what customers want, putting it on the table to make them come to you,” Grant said.

Personalisation of services was a key priority for AVDC, with one key deployment geared towards giving residents a tailored service.

‘My Account’ is an online service that provides customer transactions, with real-time data and an automated processing system. Using cloud allowed AVDC to collate consumers’ information much more easily, making it accessible from home operations so that consumers have all the information they need.

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It also provides residents with information regarding events or happenings in the area so they can keep up to date with everything from one singular access point.

How AWS Cloud turned a local council’s business model on its head

Expanding AWS even further, AVDC was the first council to implement the use of Echo and Alexa for council services. Via residents’ hubs,  AVDC is using Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa so that residents can directly ask Alexa  questions relating to everything from bin collections to council services.

Alexa allows AVDC to effectively give consumers what they need without the time consumption or staffing to deliver what customers want, in one seamless action. Simply call ‘Alexa’ and she’s at your disposal.

Alexa is a very neat thing; it is resident in someone’s home with the possibilities in social care or any sort of extent of services provided by the council. Customers get more responsive services that are more intuitive to them and hands on,” Grant told CBR.

“Alexa’s offer is so powerful because it can get your information on basic services and questions, and in future will be able to iterate across different public sector platforms, such as in getting a prescription or arranging car parking.”

Grant discussed the consumers in more detail, outlining that AWS helps AVDC bring what they want and need to the customer like never before. He said it is all about offering capabilities consumers use already at their disposal.

How AWS Cloud turned a local council’s business model on its head

Amazon Alexa

“We don’t want to use a technology at work that a customer can’t use at home. We need to consume our own technology, using our technology and knowledge to make the day a better day. Buying into the brand is what’s important, so AVDC needs to offer what consumers want so that they buy into us,” said the Chief Exec.

“It’s all about leveraging a trust with consumers; if you’ve got a trustworthy and modern council body you’ve got a recipe to achieve great things.”

Planning for the future AVDC hopes to achieve a lot more in their partnership with AWS including the use of AI in My Account and Alexa to help meet the needs of consumers.

Grant said: “Predictive capabilities will help us deliver local news to residents, with what they want to hear as well as embracing voice recognition in some cases. Other areas include expanding smart areas, bringing IoT into homes and how we can use predictive technologies and algorithms to make our day better.”

Multi-million pound savings have already been made for customers with the use of AWS Cloud, improving their service and council areas. In the future, AVDC aims to expand this to reach customers in new ways than they have ever been before and become personal with the residents of their council.

Concluding, Grant said: “Cloud has enabled us to turn our business model on its head, and now we can pick and choose where we want to go.”

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