Future Gazing 2019
At the end of 2018, our experts from across the business shared their predictions for the year ahead.
A collection of predictions for 2019 from our experts from across Capita
Technology and business challenges will drive relationships in new directions - Mike Barnard, executive officer, Capita Customer Management
Disrupt or be disrupted; the employment screening industry is at an existential fulcrum - Susie Thomson, managing director, Security Watchdog, part of Capita
Will 2019 see the rise of AI and bots – and the demise of webchat? - Alan Linter, insight, analytics & improvement director, Capita
2019 will be the year of people and communities - Alex Cousins, business development director, Capita
An evolution in the tools to combat cyber threats - Martin Deacon, chief technology officer, Capita Network Solutions
5 customer experience predictions for 2019 - David Cousins, head of solution consulting, Capita IT and Networks
Less travel is the future of travel management - Jonti Dalal-Small, head of behavioural science, Capita Travel and Events
Our urban green spaces will work harder – and we’ll be working in them - Martin Kelly, land planning director, Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure
Virtual assistants and automation will deliver on their promises - Alan Hartwell, chief technology officer, Capita Software
5 predictions for technology in local government and housing for 2019 - Anthony Singleton, managing director, Capita One, Capita Software
A new attitude towards transformation, and some tough decisions for the public sector - Kate Fitzsimons, business development director, Capita Local Public Services
What might 2019 hold in local government recruitment? - Nick Cole, director for local government, Veredus, part of Capita
Putting the people back in to New Year predictions - Sally Earnshaw, managing director, Blue Sky, part of Capita
5 key predictions for recruitment in 2019 - Geoff Smith, executive director, Capita Resourcing
Robots vs people, AI vs data, and a big year for Virtual Reality - Ismail Amla, chief growth officer, Capita
2019 – the year of the unknown for the real estate sector - Deborah McLaughlin, managing director, Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure
In 2019 we’ll see the continued evolution of digital payments - Stephen Ferry, managing director for financial services, Capita Software
Technology and business challenges will
drive relationships in new directions
Mike Barnard, executive officer, Capita Customer Management
It’s clear that the way people and technology interact and ‘collaborate’ is advancing rapidly. For Customer Management, we’re not just interested in technology itself, but how it’s reshaping the human interactions we see in contact centres and the partnerships and relationships we have with clients.
Technology: Asynchronous messaging
‘Live chat’ is currently the digital equivalent of voice. Many of our clients use it as the intermediate step from voice to self-serve as they invest in web applications. But our WhatsApp experience has conditioned us to expect that ‘2 blue ticks’ feeling: ‘I don’t need a response because I know it is being looked at’. I believe Asynchronous Messaging (its technical title) will take off in the world of Customer Service in 2019. Consumers can interact in their time and on their terms, confident in the knowledge that someone in their chosen brand has seen and logged their request and will respond.
People: Moments of truth
The increasing use of technology within self serve to reduce the effort around simple actions will put even more focus on the ‘moments of truth’ - those more complex enquiries that need a ‘human’ response, particularly in the Voice channel. They might be around an escalated complaint (where if handled well, you can actually drive advocacy), or around retention through a personalised offer, or where clients are looking to cross sell or upsell to new services.
We will see an ever greater focus on such moments, because they are the personalised, real time interactions that drive affinity with client brands.
Partnerships: Changing models
In the traditional and simplest model of customer management, clients essentially pay for capacity – people, capability, technology – on a per unit basis. The client determines how much they use or don’t use, you agree a deal, and then Capita turns up, ask for the keys, and takes over the operation... Well that was the historical perception! But it’s just not how it works any more.
Increasingly, as our relationships and partnerships develop, clients are typically prepared to transfer more risk, which is where we end up in gain-share models. We can look to gain share around service experience going up, or revenue generation, or indeed taking cost out of the overall operation, which is how our relationship works with Marks & Spencer, for example. Then at its most extreme we actually get paid for outcomes that are above and beyond the activity we run, as happens with one of our telecoms clients.
I believe 2019 will continue to see clients embracing these different partnership models, and I think a lot of that is down to the breadth of challenges they face at the moment. They’re making choices around new technology, which can expensive and distracting. They see increasing pressure from regulation, with regulators looking for ever more rigour in how operations are run. And they’re coping with the fact that today’s customer behaviours are now rarely predictable from historic data.
Clients will need a much more flexible model to cope with all these challenges, and that’s something we’re only likely to witness even more in the coming year.
Disrupt or be disrupted; the employment
screening industry is at an existential fulcrum
Susie Thomson, managing director, Security Watchdog, part of Capita
The traditional rules are being challenged, patience is no longer a virtue and the new language of ‘tech speak’ creates a dynamic which requires fast learning and out of the box thinking from industry leaders.
The days of providing an employment screening service driven by experienced colleagues, underpinned by a proprietary IT platform for recording and reporting screening results are numbered. Our customers – HR/Resourcing heads and their applicants – have higher experiential expectations than ever before in the execution of their onboarding processes as the competition to attract the best talent heats up.
The race to keep pace with technology change in 2019 and beyond is our biggest challenge – and our greatest opportunity. Contracts will continue to be awarded based on a screening vendor’s technology capability in offering candidates – and clients – the best possible onboarding experience. The industry is seeking memorable and intuitive ‘day one’ journeys for candidates, which serve to anchor employee loyalty from the start and frame rewarding careers. Speed will be key, with automated screening processing integral to fast, compliant results. Pure play technology entrants will continue to emerge, promising ‘press of the button’ employment screening results, which inevitably only surface a fraction of the full spectrum of potential risks which, in our view, can only be achieved by combining world class technology with an interrogative human mind.
The job seeker or employee will become subject matter experts in the domain of their personal data security. Applicants will expect to self-serve during the screening process; they will want to view their results and re-purpose these for other life activities. Moreover, they will only expect to be screened once, not continuously with each new employment or engagement, as is the case today. GDPR has opened the door to individuals porting their screening data, particularly employment references and qualification check results. This disruption is highly attractive to the contractor screening market, where protracted screening activities delay onboarding and earning capability.
With some screening-related system developments potentially out of date only months after launch, integrations with niche technology partners and data suppliers will underpin future success. IT development roadmap-sharing with trusted partners, and agility in setting up commercial partnership agreements will drive fast growth, supported by internal system integration teams who will feed from product development experts scouring the international market for new technology enabled offerings. Those screening businesses who can bolt on multiple new checks via integrations and go quickly to market will be those who survive 2019 and beyond.
Finally, social media checks will continue to grow in importance in our industry, although there will be increased governance around how social media is accessed, interpretation of results and at what point these can be used. Clients will deploy these checks regularly with identified risks in mind for applicants and employees as a major safeguard against reputational damage. Associated social media services will continue to emerge as additional offerings, which will address social media profile cleansing for individuals who may require their profiles to be ‘tidied up’ in preparation for responsible employment or other activities.
Will 2019 see the rise of AI and
bots – and the demise of webchat?
Alan Linter, insight, analytics & improvement director, Capita
The march of technology continues throughout pretty much every industry, but it has arguably had more of an impact on customer management than on any other. Capita Customer Management’s Alan Linter and James Brooks look to the year ahead.
Digital technology is evolving at an amazingly fast pace, dramatically changing the customer experience and the ways in which it is delivered. Here are some of the technology trends we believe will have the biggest effect on businesses, contact centres and consumers in 2019 and beyond:
The rise of messaging apps for business
With 1.5bn monthly active users, WhatsApp is now the world’s most popular messaging application. Throw in Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Telegram and Viber and you've got more than 4bn monthly active users.
Seeing as Facebook Messenger for business has already been adopted by many leading brands, and 2018 saw the launch of both WhatsApp for Business and Apple Business Chat, I think we'll see a surge in customers choosing these familiar platforms to contact companies. Could this spell the end of traditional webchat?
AI for all
We can’t talk predictions without talking about GDPR and machine learning – 2018 was saturated with talk of it. But in 2019 we're going to see this put in to practice. And, while there won't be one big super droid taking over the office (contrary to some headlines), there will likely be a number of unperceived bots handling a range of closed transactions.
"I think we'll also see bots assisting frontline advisors by completing necessary repetitive tasks and suggesting actions, based on both historical and in the moment customer data, to give real-time propensity decisioning."
And how's this for a prediction? With the wide availability of computer science knowledge and skills, I predict that towards the end of 2019, consumers will have developed their own transactional bots that will interact with the company's bots!
Voice assistants (VAs) are already integrated into daily routines for many of us and, with Amazon, Apple and Google each investing significantly in their own versions of this technology, I think it's safe to say we're going to see (or hear) even more in 2019.
The VAs are only going to get smarter and more usable over time. This presents an exciting opportunity for organisations to automate, innovate and potentially reduce the cost to serve by developing the ability for customers to book appointments, update their personal account details, or simply request information through the VA.
As voice assistants find their way into our cars, it will be interesting to see if multiple VA platforms can co exist or if one will ultimately win out. Amazon currently has the market share but each platform has it's distinct pros and cons.
Also, look out for gesture control. Not only will we be able to shout at our connected devices, but we'll also be able to wave and gesticulate until they finally do what we want!
Price comparison moves to automatic switching
For a long time price comparison sites have been consumers’ first port of call, but they do not always reflect the whole market, or the best offers. A surge of automatic switching solutions such as SWITCHCRAFT, SWITCHED, etc, will mean the need to price compare will erode, as robots will permanently keep consumers on the best deal. Brands will potentially build price comparison functionality into their own customer journeys, switching customers to the best deal within their portfolio or matching deals in the market.
Erosions of traditional contact centre platforms and software
New disruptive technology such as Twilio and Amazon Connect will erode the value of traditional contact centre software giants. The accessibility and ease of use will allow bespoke applications to be developed from software libraries at little or no cost – this combined with the rise of APIs will allow single view of customers and bespoke journeys to be developed by skilled teams.
2019 will be the year of
people and communities
Alex Cousins, business development director, Capita
Right now it feels like we’re living in a world full of uncertainty and divisions. But, looking to the future, I believe we’ll see more and more people and communities stepping forward to meet local challenges, through inspiring local schemes and projects, in harmony with local authorities and local organisations.
My predictions for 2019:
More power to the people
Increasingly, I’m hearing about people creating their own economies, feeding their own, and bringing about change. And there’ll be more of this. Some issues happening on your own doorstep are just too important – issues like social and economic deprivation, hunger, homelessness and loneliness. Local people can see local assets that can make dramatic changes to people’s fortunes.
There are some great examples in my hometown, Liverpool. From Homebaked – a bakery co-owned by locals whose profits go towards employment and training, and leftover food is given to food banks and homeless centres – to Kitty’s Launderette, a social business and community hub set up by residents, providing affordable laundry facilities.
Both projects have had fantastic support from local politicians, local authorities, and businesses, but the difference is, the communities are in the driving seat and have had great public response.
More wealth creation
A sense of Place and of Purpose is leading to empowered people sorting things out themselves – and what has started, sometimes from necessity, has now become a whole new approach. The rise of the cultural economy, creating wealth from the bottom up and the success of places like the Baltic triangle – redeveloped for the creative industries in Liverpool – is breeding a new and local entrepreneurial spirit, tapping into those with a millennial mindset.
And the number of community interest companies (CICs) is rocketing across the UK – ranging from recycling schemes, nurseries, vocational training and cafes, to villages shops and mental health support groups.
Everyone will need to redefine their role
Things are changing, and everyone needs to adapt. Policy makers have responded with the likes of the Civil Society Strategy, the Community Wealth Unit and the strengthening of the Social Value Act. Large corporate businesses are redefining their purpose and their roles to support the communities. And councils are on board with a host of new initiatives – just take a look at Preston, or the Wigan Deal.
More new communities of interest
Up north we have Northern Power Women, Northern Power Futures, People’s Powerhouse – which are all about coming together around a common cause, creating movements for change, empowering people to find their voice and challenging the status quo and those in power.
So, for me, 2019 is all about the further rise of community and people and the creation of a new forms of collaboration, new rules, new expectations, new powers.
An evolution in the tools
to combat cyber threats
Martin Deacon, chief technology officer, Capita Network Solutions
The next generation of cyber threats will need the next generation of cyber tools, assisted response and proactive threat hunting.
Every year sees an increase in the scale, frequency and sophistication of cyber threats – and we should expect 2019 to be no different. Most organisations should be looking at ‘when’ not ‘if’ they will come under cyber attack.
Security measures such as firewalls, antivirus and malware filtering, while still relevant and necessary, are proving to be not enough on their own. And attacks can be hard to recognise – it might take 100 days or more for a large enterprise or public sector organisation to even realise that it’s under any form of cyber-attack. Fast and efficient threat detection, and importantly the associated response, will be key.
2019 will see an increase in intelligent tools to detect cyber attacks
AI, machine learning and cognitive analytics will all play an increasing role – tools that work together to join the dots and get a better insight into whether an organisation might be under attack. Machines have the ability to process and analyse huge volumes of structured and unstructured data and to identify subtle changes and abnormalities, and detect patterns and differences to spot which traffic is not normal.
Predictive analytics analyses huge volumes of past data to understand patterns and provide insights into where cyber threats are coming from, the probability of them happening and their level of severity.
By using predictive cyber tools and adapting your business, there’s a good chance that you’re already mitigated before a cyber-attack has happened, because you’ll see the patterns developing. These insights help target the activities of ‘Threat Hunters’ working proactively in tandem with monitoring and detection teams.
People culture and awareness
Attackers will always seek to exploit the weakest link – often that weakness is people. How tempting is an attachment labelled “Payroll List.xls”? Technology must not be seen as the sole defence. For example, training and awareness can reduce the risks posed by phishing and its malicious payload.
The use of encryption will continue to rise
And the increase in use of encrypted traffic could be a particular issue for the public sector. While solutions and services exist that can decrypt, inspect and process encrypted traffic, privacy-related regulations and/or self-defined policies have traditionally led the public sector to adopt a ‘do not decrypt’ mandate. If 60% – and growing – of internet traffic is encrypted, the blind spot is getting bigger all the time, this will likely need to change.
The public sector will need solutions that can deal with encrypted traffic at scale and with suitable control and granularity to enable opt in/out flexibility to specific organisations, departments, systems or even users.
5 customer experience
predictions for 2019
David Cousins, head of solution consulting, Capita IT and Networks
Customer experience (CX) remains one of the most important factors for any organisation today.
Customer expectations are higher and news of a good experience – and a bad one – travels faster and wider than ever, thanks to social media. As a result, organisations have had little option but to make it a bigger and bigger focus – you only need to look at the number of appointments across industries that have ‘CX’ or ‘customer experience’ within the job title.
2019 – and beyond – is going to be really interesting in the field of CX, because most organisations are realising that the competitive landscape is different. They’re not competing directly with others head on, it’s more a competition for consumers’ time.
Between our jobs, families, hobbies and other life events, there’s little left over at the end of every day.
On this basis, my predictions for 2019 are:
We need to be able to deal with the mundane, yet necessary, activities such as paying bills, shopping, seeking quotes, amending services etc, when it’s convenient. Organisations will need to step up and offer these services at times that suit their customer, via theirpreferred channels.
The industry has always talked about ‘knowing your customer’. In the past this was about identifying who they are when they contact. Now, organisations need to go further and offer services and conversations that are empathetic with the consumers’ circumstances in mind.
Organisations need to focus on the events that take place within a customer journey – and react accordingly in real-time. Technology that enables an organisation to monitor web-site navigation, and react with recommendations or actions to help the consumer, will enhance the online experience and, ultimately, revenue.
Some services and demands are simple, and customers just want to be able to deal with them quickly. This is where automation comes in – the ability to interact with a machine (bots for example) to service a straightforward need. This is not about automating everything, but rather getting shot of the simple stuff to make way for more empathetic, and potentially more complex, conversations when needed.
5. Technology agnosticism
Organisations have sunk significant cost into contact centre products over the years – products promising the world, but delivering the status quo. Organisations now want choice and gone are the days where they’re willing to rip and replace large platforms to enable future proofing. Organisations like Amazon (with connect) and Twilio (with Flex) are making huge headway by providing an ability to prototype and sandbox the future CX interaction in a completely bespoke manner, providing organisations with an opportunity to build something completely unique, yet powered by incredibly robust components.
I also think that we have yet to see a true capability that harnesses all the data made available to organisations. I talked recently about big data really only be ‘a lot of data’ and how technologies such as speech analytics are paving the way to gaining genuine intelligence from conversational data. This will continue to grow in 2019 as it will be key to ensure that we are agile enough to react to the consumer of 2019 and beyond.
What I will say, is that all of these trends provide an opportunity to reflect on how operations are managing the day to day right now. Technology is merely the enabler and as such we need to recognise that our people are the ones that have the real impact on whether we are successful or not within the CX ecosystem. Let’s get the basics right to ensure longevity and agility.
Less travel is the future
of travel management
Jonti Dalal-Small, head of behavioural science, Capita Travel and Events
The future of business travel is all about helping travellers and bookers think and choose better.
Looking to the future of business travel, there is inevitably much focus on cutting-edge technology – innovations such as AI, machine learning and Blockchain that have the potential to revolutionise the industry.
For all the excitement about opportunities enabled by digital however, it is easy to overlook that new technology is of limited value, at best, if it doesn’t help meet travellers’ real, human, needs.
In 2019, as business travel continues to focus more and more on helping travellers think and choose better, this will open up a range of vital questions for the industry. Chief among them the somewhat heretical but crucial thought: should travel management companies be actively encouraging less travel?
"Travel is costly – to organisations and travellers themselves. While we always strive to deliver the best possible trip; sometimes the best trip to not travel at all.
It's a shift in thinking, but one that is taking hold."
It makes sense to those holding the purse strings in procurement who recognise there are limited opportunities to drive cost-savings by tightening and enforcing travel policies. Using psychological insights to encourage the ‘right’ behaviours – such as cutting down on unnecessary travel – is the key to unlocking significant new savings.
It makes sense to travellers who are tired of spending excessive time on trains and planes for meetings that could be accomplished more effectively and efficiently by phone or video conferencing. (A trend that is being accelerated by generational changes in the workplace, not least as people increasingly question and reject presenteeism cultures and the ‘travel for the sake of it’ that goes with it). While hosts are often completely oblivious of the impact on wellbeing that meetings being called at a particular time / location can have, in terms of travel times, childcare arrangements, etc – and making that impact visible can have a very positive cascade effect.
It makes sense to colleagues across organisations, not least those with HR responsibilities. Thinking directly about how travellers think, feel and behave puts traveller safety and wellbeing centre stage, and makes explicit the crucial links between travel and employee motivation, productivity and an organisation’s culture. Travel is emerging from the artificial organisational silo that it has been restricted to.
As more people think holistically about travel and its impact, technology will really deliver – if it is used in tandem with behavioural science and data insights. For example, in creating a new online booking tool, travellers shouldn’t have to think ‘is this the right thing for me to do?’. The right behaviour needs to be implicit and made easy – ‘the answer’ should be built into the booking process.
Behavioural science is mainstream these days and attempts to influence behaviour (nudges) are everywhere – which is why it lies at the heart of my predictions:
1. Travel management companies will really start to act on the wealth of data they have access to, so they’re not just talking about behaviours, but using the behavioural insights they’ve drawn from that data. We’ll see a move from using data to inform buying and to negotiate, to using it to change things – from reactive reporting to proactive, psychologically-grounded campaigns.
2. Looking at behaviour in the round will open up a range of new opportunities – understanding the cause of why and how people travel – not just in the planning and booking stages, but holistically, enabling organisations and travellers themselves to think more logically about the impact travel has on safety and wellbeing.
3. The travel management companies that will be best placed to take advantage will be those that can combine behavioural science, data and analysis, and technology. Companies that not only obsess about how travellers think, feel and behave, but who also have the data for actionable insights, and the technology for excellent customer experience with the capabilities to nudge and influence informed decisions (with personalised messaging, for example).
Our urban green spaces will work
harder – and we’ll be working in them
Martin Kelly, land planning director, Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure
The public realm in our towns and cities will be increasingly influenced by Biophilic concepts and the requirements of Smart Cities.
In response to the growing challenges of climate change and the demands of agile working environments, the public realm will need to respond positively in terms of its design and delivery, especially for future outdoor spaces.
1. The shock of recent climate change events will spur on a more holistic approach to the design of our urban environment.
I think the game changer this year around climate change has been the realisation – at last - of the magnitude and extremeness of changing weather conditions. We’ve seen more heatwaves, increasing water stress, higher rainfalls, wildfires.
Storms, flooding and the frequency of extremes of weather are generating real challenges for our towns and cities in terms of the public realm. We also have a lot of quite poorly designed urban environments at the moment. I think 2019 will see an increasing emphasis on the need for a more holistic, multifunctional approach to them – what we would term Biophilic interventions through urban design and green infrastructure strategies.
Just one example would be better rainwater harvesting so it can be used for drainage, irrigation, trees, green walls, green roofs and all the other vegetation that’s being introduced to urban areas.
2. Our green spaces will take on new responsibilities.
I’m really interested in the spaces between buildings and what they can do. We’re starting to think much more carefully about how future outdoor spaces will need to provide micro-climatic amelioration for the urban heat island effect, as well as urban greening and biodiversity enhancements. We’ll see Biophilic interventions occur at all scales in our towns and cities – not just major parks or urban squares, but in the form of small ‘pocket parks’ too. This squares up with our understanding that there is an innate connection between human beings and other living systems. There is now a great body of scientific and empirical work to show that humans are more productive and healthier when they have a daily contact with nature. Patients recover faster in hospitals that overlook green areas. Children progress better at school in daylight learning environments.
3. The public realm will accommodate new ways of outdoor working.
This is partly in response to climate change, but also the requirements of the Smart City movement. Modern outdoor spaces will need to embrace the requirements of new technologies, digital transformations, external sensors and multi-media advancements, and be designed to deliver working environments.
Because people will want to get outdoors. They’ll want to congregate. They’ll want to work externally as the weather improves. It’s a movement that started with ‘hotdesking’, then mobile working and now it’s about agile working. The public realm will need to deliver the appropriate agile working conditions outdoors - including shelter, security and amenity facilities – to enable that to happen.
We all need to take our screen breaks, so where are we going to go?
Why not outside, to look at a big plasma screen, make calls, check emails, have a Skype conference, engage in Yammer and all the other social networking that’s important to us? We’ll need spaces that are conducive to that and there are great opportunities here. Perhaps we could call it ‘hotparking’…
Virtual assistants and automation
will deliver on their promises
Alan Hartwell, chief technology officer, Capita Software
We are seeing ever more people use virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, and trust the results. Voice assistant technology is now part of normal life, and people will increasingly expect it in their business life too.
In 2019, automation – from Robotic Process Automation to Autonomous Vehicles to Automated Intelligence – will finally become truly mainstream. As the resulting data sets from business usage become larger, automated analytics will exponentially improve the results and deliver compelling business ROI.
1) The capabilities of virtual assistants will grow rapidly, thanks to a surge in available data
As more and more people use voice assistants, the data that’s collected will grow and the outcomes become better. It’s a virtuous circle. The bigger the data sets, the better the performance; the better the performance, the more people use voice assistants; the more people use voice assistants, the larger the data sets become, etc, etc. It takes large data sets to make those significant improvements happen, but by 2019 we’ll be starting to see them.
2) Analysis of that data will make them smarter
The reason the results improve is that you can analyse the voice recordings to match successful outcomes with unsuccessful ones.
You can track back over the conversation and learn from it, and that means you can make better predictions over where a future conversation is going to go.
For example, we’re already starting to see in financial services that it’s possible to listen to a call from a customer and tell, from the words being sampled, that the right advice isn’t being given. It’s pretty niche at the moment, and you need large data sets to validate and refine it, but I can see systems like that becoming more widely adopted.
3) They’ll begin to handle more complex enquiries
Because voice systems are going to become much better at interpreting what’s being asked, I think we’ll also start using them for more complex enquiries. Take “am I on the right gas tariff?” for example. If we were trying to answer that question ourselves, we’d first check our account, then go online to look for better prices, then maybe use a site such as uSwitch. But when one phrase can activate all of those processes for us, that’s when it really becomes worthwhile. When something that’s easy for a human can also be done by a machine, it’s an amusing novelty. When something that is complex for us can be done easily by a machine, that’s real value.
4) Businesses will find new ways of using them to enhance productivity
Increasingly we’re going to be hiring people who don’t want to go on a three-day training course to use all our internal systems. They already live a life that works pretty much out of the box and they expect their working life to be the same. So there are huge productivity savings waiting for companies that can use virtual assistants to do away with the need for that training. Just press this button on your PC and ask a question – how do I speak to HR, how do I change my address on my personal records, how do I do my expenses…? That’s a business use I certainly see expanding.
5) But the issue of how much data they gather on us is not going away
As corporations gather more and more data about people, you begin to get into the area of predictive analytics on a personal level – personal management based on observations of your behaviour. Not everybody feels comfortable with that, certainly not in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook sense, and it’s a subject I suspect will generate even more intense debate in 2019. For some, it feels weird to have an app that says: “we notice you’ve been making lots of payments in fast food restaurants this week. Are you sure that’s good for your health?” But it does point the way to the future. Useful, proactive prompts that are not being sold to massive corporations to make money out of you, but delivered just to you, for your own benefit. Yes, I’d look forward to that.
5 predictions for technology in local
government and housing for 2019
Anthony Singleton, managing director, Capita One
With the increasing pressure on local authorities to do more with less, next year looks to be another year in which digital transformation will, rightly, play a huge role.
But I believe there are five key areas in particular where technology will lead to a monumental shift for local authorities. Some of this is already being introduced, but I predict they’ll move from being the preserve of early adopters to becoming the norm.
Prediction 1: Robotics
Robotic Process Automation is already being introduced, for example in revenues and benefits, but I believe it will spread to many other areas, as senior leaders see more and more evidence of the benefits and cost efficiencies and lead the push to drive automation across their organisation.
Prediction 2: A single view of each citizen
Arguably the most significant development will be consolidating information to provide a single view of a citizen so all the information the authority holds about a person is joined and held in one place.
This is important not just because it would make all back-office processes more effective – not least by removing the issues associated with duplication – but because it would enable local authorities to be much more proactive in providing services. They would have an overall view of which support and services are needed and could act more quickly to address them.
Prediction 3: Predictive analytics
Once we have a single view of each citizen, predictive analytics will reveal the stories behind people’s lives so that services and support can be targeted to prevent a negative outcome happening in the first place.
For example, if social care and NHS information is joined, proactive intervention could be taken to prevent A&E beds being taken up by someone who would be better cared for with appropriate social care.
The trickle-down benefit of this has the potential to save millions of pounds. Or with homelessness – overlaying analytics with information on education, health issues and housing, can reveal the story of how that person became homeless. We can learn from this to put support in place before it happens, potentially transforming a person’s future.
Prediction 4: Beyond channel shift
Channel shift may no longer be a new idea, but how local authorities respond to it is evolving. While once it was about moving services online so staff can perform their jobs more easily, looking to the near future, councils will focus much more on the customer experience. Mirroring citizens’ preferences in retail, for example, using apps and sourcing information via virtual assistants.
Prediction 5: The Internet of Things
Despite great excitement about the potential of smart homes, the reality is that the Internet of Things (IoT) has had a slow start. Not only did it look as if it was always going to be prohibitively expensive, but there have also been concerns about privacy – particularly around having a sensor in your home.
However, we’re seeing a dramatic drop in costs, particularly when the technology is applied to a large number of homes, in the way that social landlords are able to do. I also think we’ll see a big shift in how people welcome the technology. From sensors which predict when a boiler needs servicing to monitoring damp in homes, the IoT will be accepted as a feasible solution.
So next year I believe these technologies will start enabling local authorities to achieve their core aim of supporting communities, as well meeting financial targets, providing tools to deliver effective services, alongside the insight they need to support the most vulnerable.
A new attitude towards transformation,
and some tough decisions for the public sector
Kate Fitzsimons, business development director, Capita Local Public Services
Transformation, especially around digital initiatives, will become an even more critical strategic ambition for the public sector in 2019 – one where the private sector is ideally placed to help.
We’ll also witness more public sector organisations getting into financial problems, forcing a significant rethink of the services they offer.
Pressure on finances…
Across the public sector there have been numerous stories of organisations having to dip into their financial reserves this year. We saw the consequences of repeatedly taking this approach with a number of authorities struggling to issue a balanced budget. But it goes right across all our essential public services, with the Police and Crime Commissioners reporting reduced reserves, and Academies’ finances being under increased scrutiny, to name just a few.
All public services have increasing demands on essential services in common. This is sure to continue, so I suspect even more organisations will reach a tipping point next year.
…will lead to the public sector stripping back…
This financial pressure will result in public sector organisations stripping right back in terms of what their core offering is and what are the absolute essential services they need to deliver. While there may not always be the political support to vary some of those service standards, in reality they will just have to move.
It will happen in small pockets to begin with, and obviously there are some service areas that will be too high risk and sensitive from a PR perspective. It will need a major cultural change and this is going to take time but more and more public sector organisations are going to be faced with these very tough conversations next year.
…and a new relationship with the private sector…
We’ll begin to see realignment in the relationship between the public, private and voluntary sectors, and the role all those parties play in providing sustainable public services. This year has seen mixed views on the effectiveness of public sector outsourcing. There is some nervousness here, although there is still clear recognition that the expertise and innovation of the private sector is much needed. There’ll be an exercise in rebuilding trust and getting the confidence back into the relationship.
…will swap wholesale transformation for targeted initiatives.
What will help recreate that trust is a different mind-set to transformation. It’s often been referred to as the solution to the financial woes of the public sector, and it is. But in 2019 I think we’ll see a move away from wholesale transformational deals to a demand for targeted initiatives that put the skills and expertise of the private sector to best use – especially initiatives that maximise digital innovations and create a breakthrough in data sharing and intelligent analysis.
Transformation will be centred around a higher volume of specific interventions that on their own may only produce marginal gains, but collectively they have the ability to create the shift needed to ensure our public services are sustainable.
The public sector needs to find ways to:
- effectively manage demand for services
- use innovation in technology to drive solutions
- use AI in an appropriate and effective manner
- analyse data and share intel on customers.
These are all key aspects that will make our public services far more effective than ever before. Organisations such as Capita have a significant part to play in supporting their journey by embracing innovation, investing in technology and pushing the boundaries ourselves in how we are developing and using it, so we can support our clients with these appropriate, targeted and powerful solutions.
What might 2019 hold in
local government recruitment?
Nick Cole, director for local government, Veredus, part of Capita
So, where did 2018 go? For us, and I am sure for the other major players in local government recruitment, the year both went in a flash and, interestingly, felt a bit like 2008.
Yes, 2008; you have to go back a decade to remember the last time the market felt this buoyant.
For those of you who, in 2018, have read my pieces or blogs, you will know that they tend to focus on four things –pay, digital, collaboration and skills shortages. So, as we say goodbye to 2018 and wave hello to 2019, here are my thoughts on key trends we have seen this year and what 2019 might hold.
Private sector pay far outstripped that of the public sector in 2018 making it harder for local authorities to attract talent from outside of the sector at a time when commercial experience, skills and acumen are needed more so than ever. Reliance on market supplements may solve that hard to fill role today but this not a sustainable solution to longer term talent attraction and pipelining, retention and promotion.
This will only get worse in 2019 if the continued demand for senior managers and leaders continues. Indeed, if candidates continue to be faced with job choice, appointment process will be tougher, longer to deliver, with shorter shortlists and a greater likelihood of non-appointment because of ‘buy-back’.
Digital was the most talked about subject in 2018 appointments we managed and we fully expect this to continue throughout 2019. Whilst putting forms on a council website or enabling citizens to request or transact basic services online is now the norm, the sector is a long way from embedding a cultural and organisational mind-set that is digital by default and shaped by citizens.
There are few candidates in the sector with the digital strategy development and citizen engagement experience currently in demand and those from the private sector are reluctant to make a cross-sector move. Expect recruiting to these roles to be tough in 2019.
We have seen a growing number of joint health and social care commissioning roles in 2018 and expect this to continue throughout next year. Again, there will be limited fields for appointments of this nature, particularly if you are an authority of significant scale looking to attract someone already at the level and with NHS experience as well. The new Combined Authorities have taken some of the best Chiefs in the market and there will continue to be demand for heavyweight regeneration candidates in both new and existing organisations focused on housing growth and collaborative place-based leadership.
2018 saw continued candidate shortages in finance, legal, highways, planning, education and social care and there is no sign of this changing in 2019. The long-gone role of assistant chief executive seems to be making a return in the form of the chief operating officer – a non-finance corporate role designed to enable transformational change and commercialisation in the organisation.
Such roles are highly appealing to the market and pulling well. There are still mixed views on the pros and cons of the twin-hatted Joint director of adult social services / director of children’s services model and good candidates are few and far between; interim is often the default position.
So, more of the same in many ways from our perspective. The impact of the Budget on some parts of social care and lifting the housing cap should generate further demand, but our sense is that the general uncertainty surrounding peri-Brexit economic conditions and long term local government financial sustainability will continue to cloud the sector and present challenges around attraction and retention.
Putting the people back in
to New Year predictions
Sally Earnshaw, managing director, Blue Sky, part of Capita
Investment will move from software to wetware as leaders realise that their people are their most powerful drivers of change.
AI, AR, big data, smart speakers, chatbots… New Year industry predictions are usually heavy on the tech buzzwords. And sure, there’ll be a lot of (often very exciting) disruption coming our way in 2019.
But, approaching it by asking ‘how can we update our systems to exploit such-and-such trend or technology’ is no longer good enough. It’s no longer fast enough. Instead, the organisations that stay ahead of the game will be the ones that invest in nimble, targeted, iterative digital upgrades - but which also invest in helping their people becoming agile, empowered innovation experts.
"The thing is, human beings are really good at change. Much better than computers (isn’t your smartphone already looking a little, well, out of date?). An ability to evolve is programmed deep into our DNA."
Unfortunately, many leaders focus on changing their processes and systems when they should start off by asking: ‘how can we ensure our people have really powerful growth mindsets? How can we give our people the skills to rise to unpredictable situations, and the freedom and confidence to adapt to what our customers need, right now?’
Because change no longer happens in decades or years, or even weeks. If they are to keep up with the political, cultural and technological changes hurtling our way, organisations need to evolve how they operate and communicate every day. And they can only achieve that sort of responsiveness by fully utilising their most valuable asset: the human brain.
The press is obsessed with machine learning, but even the most sophisticated AI still can’t emulate a fraction of human learning’s complexity, flexibility and speed. In the future, your people will need to both sell and serve across multiple touchpoints, digitally and face-to-face. They’ll need sophisticated conversation skills that allow them to keep customers on board during long, siloed journeys involving numerous teams and contractors. They’ll need to become fluent in the psychology of interaction, creating added value by paying attention to smart linking and cognitive biases and the peak end rule. No software is going to achieve that.
What does this mean for leaders? Creating a permission culture where their people know what to do, know what the business stands for, and are empowered to do what’s right in the moment even when the process dictates something otherwise. Using blended learning solutions, maximising lots of different learning platforms to create truly capable people who feel confident before they even have their first customer interaction. Thinking not just about how to keep itinerant, super-social, purpose-driven Millennials inspired, but how to get the best out of a generally more diverse and ageing workforce.
Above all, it means remembering that if your people aren’t agile and engaged, none of the big digital transformations you’re trying to push through in your business will stick.
As Korn Ferry discovered in a landmark study on the future of work, 67% of CEOs believe technology will create greater value in the future than people - while economic data shows that human capital (people, skills, knowledge) is in fact worth 2.33x more. The organisations that are going to thrive over the next decade are the ones that start realigning their priorities now.
5 key predictions for
recruitment in 2019
Geoff Smith, executive director, Capita Resourcing
The year of new automation tools, the purposeful workforce, the employed consultant and recruitment agencies for robots.
1. The CV is dead. The new currency for talent is the ‘learning capacity’ not employment history
We’re seeing an elevated change in how organisations resource talent. One’s ability to learn will now be the new indicator of success, not the historic experience and skills listed on a CV. As a result, we will start to see a rise in assessment tools and how they’re utilised to assess cognitive skills and ability to step change.
2. There is a realisation that poor recruitment automation is actually ‘self-service’ therefore we will see greater intelligent automation
Organisations are starting to wake up to the reality that poor automation of their HR and recruitment function just requires more self-service and more people to make it work. As a result, we will start to see organisations invest more heavily in greater intelligent or AI related automation that can demonstrate real talent process efficiencies.
3. Today’s freelance contractor is the future’s dynamic employed consultant
In the wake of legislative changes such as the IR35 reform, and with Brexit raising challenges for both organisations and workers, it’s inevitable that we will see a rise in employed consultants. With millennial contractors and freelancers now seeking the security of permanent employment in uncertain times, and employers seeking fully compliant and on-demand access to skills, it is clear that employed consultants will become the preferred route to talent. Not only that, but it will provide opportunities for workers to up-skill whilst also improving organisation’s project diversity.
4. The ‘purpose’ of your company will be the determining factor for you to attract and retain talent
Purpose is now the determining factor for how attractive your organisation is to work for. If you don’t have a simple, defined company purpose that people can connect to, then you will struggle to attract and retain the best skills and talent in the market. Tomorrow’s workforce wants to have a compelling reason for devoting their time and energy to an organisation other than just contributing to the bottom line. Champion a good moral and community purpose, and your organisation will inevitably attract more motivated and skilled talent.
5. Only robots need apply – we expect to see the first job description for the robot…
In 2019 we might actually see HR start assessing the best robot for the job, rather than the best person. Not only are robots an attractive, cost-efficient alternative for repetitive, administrative tasks, but their ability to remove human-error and bias means they are also well-equipped for legal and financial tasks. In terms of what the future may hold, I could go even further and say that we could expect to see a marketplace for recruitment agencies representing robots, with organisations renting/contracting robots for temporary assignments instead of workers. But what we do know is that the more robots we employ, the more organisations can invest time and money up-skilling their workforce, creating more highly skilled workers and closing skill gaps.
Robots vs people, AI vs data, and
a big year for Virtual Reality
Ismail Amla, chief growth officer, Capita
Ismail Amla, chief growth officer, shares his top 4 predictions for 2019.
1) The advance of automation technology will transform the nature of work.
Some of the jobs people do today will instead be done by technology and robots, but there will also be a need for a whole new set of skills that currently don‘t exist. Couple that with an increase in the gig economy – where people want work rather than a ‘career’ – and you end up with a total redesign of how you manage a workforce.
In 2019 we’ll see a realisation by organisations that re-educating their workforce to master these new skills will become their biggest critical competitive advantage in the future. The way you will judge a good workforce is not by what they know, but by what they can unlearn and relearn, and how quickly they can do it. How well you can teach them will determine how successful your business will become.
2) Virtual Reality will finally make the big time.
I suppose my contentious point of view for 2019 is that despite a slow uptake of Virtual Reality in the past, I think this will be its tipping point year.
"Recently the US Government signed a half a billion dollar deal for Microsoft’s HoloLens for the US army. Half a billion dollars. That’s mainstream."
I think it’s a certainty that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are going to become part of the customer experience. If you’re creating a customer-facing website next year and you’re not designing Virtual Reality into that experience, then you’re really not prepared for what’s coming.
But what will also drive adoption are new use cases where you see amazing productivity coming out of it; five people in five countries, all designing a product together on a virtual table, with everyone contributing and improving it at the same time. It’s in that design and collaboration activity where VR and AR will really come into their own.
3) The kings of AI and data will team up.
2019 will be the year that organisations realise just how much competitive advantage Artificial Intelligence can bring. But what you can do with AI is going to be totally dependent on how much data you have and whether you can make use of it.
There’s been a lot of talk around startup technology companies taking over the world and using AI to help them. But to be successful, AI needs good data, and that data sits in the old organisations - the incumbents, not the startups.
So I think 2019 will see the ‘Revenge of the Incumbents!’… The big guys will start flexing their muscles when they realise what they’ve got and the competitive advantage it gives them.
I think it’s likely that next year will see more of those older organisations partnering with the start-ups so they can team their data with the latest technology.
4) People will still be handing over their personal information.
This year we saw the introduction of GDPR, but I wonder how much it has truly affected attitudes towards personal data. It’s good to have control, and people and organisations do need to be more careful about how they handle data. However, all that’s really changed is that now when organisations want to use your data they say ‘click this button’. And what happens? Everybody clicks the button! With the increase of interest in personal data, there is an opportunity for a business, such as Capita, to create a platform which is owned by the individual and holds personal data. The individual can then permit data to be shared to organisations, thereby keeping control of who sees what.
So while I think there might be changes on the periphery, and regulation is a good thing, as long at the technology is good and it adds value, it usually wins. And that will be the same in 2019.
2019 – the year of the unknown
for the real estate sector
Deborah McLaughlin, managing director, Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure
Next year in real estate is almost impossible to predict. Brexit – and the period before and after 29 March – will have a significant influence on the future outlook for the property sector, both commercial and residential.
Consistently across most areas of the economy Brexit has created the greatest market uncertainty in many years, the Real Estate sector is no different. Despite this, to date, the market has remained surprisingly resilient however, as the reality of Brexit looms, that resilience will be tested. Add to this, challenged occupier markets, weaker sterling and the potential for increased inflation and interest rates, we have a perfect-storm of uncertainty.
However, at some point in the New Year, we hope to have clarity re: the Brexit exit and that will crystallise decisions; market resilience will be tested and investors and occupiers alike will reflect on the reality of the situation and make decisions accordingly.
The real estate market is made up of many sectors, distinguishable by property type, but also the distinct differences between occupier and investor markets. Since confirmation of the leave vote, analysts and commentators have looked for evidence demonstrating a significant shift in the property markets – however, across sectors, a degree of resilience has existed.
Looking at each sector, here are my reflections on this year, plus some thoughts on what we’ll be seeing in real estate in 2019:
- We’ve seen strong investor interest and occupier demand in private rented and student accommodation – and this will carry through to next year.
- But there’s some uncertainty in large-scale ‘traditional’ residential schemes with increasingly cautious investment.
- The market practice of mid- to long-term strategy assumes short-term volatility but, post 2019, strong growth will provide a degree of protection to the sector.
- Greater flexibility in implementing planning policy alongside government investment in larger infrastructure projects, to maintain and stimulate the market.
- Despite concern around the impact of Brexit on the financial occupier market, the national picture has remained resilient – but that resilience will be tested.
- Demand for office space in regional markets will continue to increase, with particular growth in Bristol, Leeds and Manchester.
- This continued regional growth is a bi-product of occupier uncertainty, the cost of occupying in London and a desire to reduce operational cost.
- While we saw an immediate post-vote slowdown, the market is picking up and will continue to do so, driven by a number of factors including take-up of space by North American tech companies.
- Brexit will remain a threat, particularly for City financial institutions, however, at this stage, there has been little significant impact, with many occupiers delaying long-term strategic decisions.
- Retail will remain a challenging market, driven by consumer behaviour and the cost imbalance for traditional high street retailers and their on-line competitors.
- The impact of business rates, upward-only rent reviews, and the cost of living wage is severely affecting operators – a situation which is likely to worsen.
- Market polarisation continues with London and other affluent locations offering greater resilience than traditional suburban markets
- Despite sympathetic noises from government, further support needs to be forthcoming, and above and beyond the commitment to invest £675 million through the Future High Street Fund. The recent autumn budget offered to ease the burden of business rates for the smallest retailers, but further investment will be required.
- Without additional support and intervention, the retail market will continue to face an uncertain future, irrespective of – but compounded by – Brexit.
Brexit alone is not the only influencer of short- and medium-term market sentiment, with general inflation, interest rates, changing markets and wage inflation all impacting occupier profitability and investor sentiment against the context of a well-priced existing market.
A level of certainty with Brexit, coupled with positive government intervention and investment will remain key to long-term viability and growth in this sector, enhancing investor appetite and occupier growth.
In 2019 we’ll see the continued
evolution of digital payments
Stephen Ferry, managing director for financial services, Capita Software
Digital payments in general, and mobile payments in particular, will increase in 2019, as cash is used less for everyday transacting.
The demise of cash
The most recent UK Payment Markets report revealed how new technology, payment innovation and changing consumer habits contributed to 13.2 billion card payments at the end of 2017 overtaking cash payments (13.1 billion) for the first time.
In comparison, cash payments were down 15 per cent year-on-year. And, I believe, there will be no slowing down in this trend as we progress further and further towards a cashless society – through contactless, and an increase in mobile payments, both for business to consumer and peer to peer payments.
The rise of alternative payment methods…
We’ll continue to see a huge uptake in the use of alternative payment methods (APMs) such as Apple, Android and Samsung Pay, and contactless payments, alongside the use of digital currencies such as bitcoin and GovCoin. And, according to the above report, APMs are forecast to grow by 56% to 877 million payments – which is perhaps a conservative estimate as more and more younger people come of age – a generation far more at ease with this kind of payment.
…alongside the increase in chat and pay technology
China appears to be streets ahead in their payment technology – with widespread use of mobile payments through chat technology, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, which allows payments to be made during a chat conversation, similar to Whatsapp. And we’ll see the same pattern being followed by other digital payment countries in the EU, such as the UK.
So, next year, mobile payments will continue to disrupt traditional payment methods across all consumers.
W’ll see increased uptake, not only by millennials, but also by the hard-to-reach-and-convert consumer groups, including Generation X and baby boomers, with specific increase in day-to-day purchasing activities.