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Socitm 2023: The year in review

Navigating success in 2023: A year defined by progress and purpose

Socitm 2023: The year in review

As we begin 2024, we take a moment to reflect on the whirlwind of accomplishments that defined the past twelve months — an exceptionally busy and transformative period for Socitm. In this Year In Review, we spotlight the moments that shaped our journey, from the pursuit of charitable status to the launch of a groundbreaking place-based leadership course.

Through our relentless pursuit of support to you, our members, we’ve dedicated ourselves to providing crucial resources including AI policy guidance and strengthening our connections across the society and wider sector. Join us in revisiting the highlights that underscore a year marked by ambition, resilience, and purposeful strides towards improving the lives of the people and communities we all live and work in.

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Research and policy

Our policy work in 2023 was developed closely with our members, the Local CIO Council, and strategic and international partners. This ensures we create practical, evidence-based policy, based on what works. We also continued to be a strong and credible voice at national policy level, in areas driven by digital technology, data and information. 

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Practical resources

Key resources were delivered to members in 2023. One of the most popular was our AI policy and guidance document. 

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New collections

One-stop sources of inspiration and guidance – embraced the topics of resilience, regeneration and practical place-making.  

Launch of the Socitm institute

Launched at President’s Conference in June, Socitm’s Institute is the society’s response to the critical issue members and the wider sector faces.

The institute is our new home, with our individual services as its rooms and our communities enabling networking, sharing and collaboration as the roof.

The two big ambitions for the institute are:  

  1. Help improve organisational and place-based outcomes and to continue to create and support communities that will help you share, learn and grow.  
  2. To provide a one-stop shop where you can access all our assets, resources and learning and development capabilities to aid improvement and innovation.

Socitm and Impera join forces

In October, we were delighted to announce a partnership poised to redefine how local government turns insight into actions.

The partnership aims to create an unparalleled resource for the public sector. Backed by the Global Social Progress Imperative and Guys & St Thomas’ Foundation, Socitm will add a powerful dimension with Impera to better understand the wellbeing of communities – helping to target resources where they are most needed.

Watch this space as more news comes out in 2024!

Leading the debate

Key senior figures in local government joined a Socitm roundtable in September to discuss in detail the opportunities and threats around AI. This helped create a ‘what senior leaders need to know‘ document used across the sector. We also created a sample policy document and an at a glance ‘do’s and don’ts‘ for AI.

Digital Trends 2023

Our top trends collection gave you a detailed review into future challenges. Cyber resilience, exploding silos with data, connected places, digital skills and sustainability were just some of the key topics! 

Digital Trends 2023 briefings

A variety of assets have been developed for specific trends, containing research, interviews, and examples from and for people who are supporting communities with local public services. Stories come from peers worldwide about the challenges of recruitment and retention, the role of local authorities in playing a place-based role to achieving sustainability and net zero and green and sustainable IT.

Collaboration

In The Power of Digital: Understanding new technology in local government, our report with the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), we make five recommendations on how local council frontline services can benefit from better adoption and use of digital, data and technological capabilities. 

Policy collaboration

Our collaborative partnerships have influenced national policy on issues such as digital identity, artificial intelligence and responsible use of technologies and data (LGA/Solace/LOTI/iNetwork).

Socitm Says podcast

A series of episodes that delve into the latest trends, insights and discussions. Thought leaders and professionals share their perspectives on recruitment and retention in local government technology services and on the global problem of electronic waste

See all of our podcasts in one place.

Our international voice

We have contributed to major international events on topics such as digital trends, place-based leadership, cyber security and AI. With our LOLA partner associations and Major Cities of Europe, we have initiated a project to create an international knowledge and services platform.

Infographics

Leadership in Turbulent Times and Using Generative Artificial Intelligence Large Language Models – Do’s and Don’ts are just some of our infographics making key information available in an easy and simple way!

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Learning and development

2023 saw more development of members and more success than ever before. Our unique set of Leadership Academy programmes and workshops, including cyber leadership, gave confidence, developed talent and provided the skills essential to exercise effective contemporary leadership.

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Empowering NI

This year we delivered our very first Northern Ireland Empowering Women programme.

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New programme launched

A place-based leadership pilot tested with and approved by members.

Change Agent

Our partnership with Microsoft provided an opportunity for more than 500 local government officers at junior through to senior grades to improve their digital skills. This free training over two or five days was a huge hit with everyone who attended.

Celebrating success 

Everyone who went through our Leadership Academy continued their personal development journey through further learning interventions and joining the Socitm alumni community. This included preparing for public speaking, presenting at meetings and documenting their success in blogs and videos.

In addition to the Change Agent programme, our Leadership Academy achieved the following:

  • We launched the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion workshops
  • We ran short (3 hour) workshops on:
    • Introduction to Emotional Intelligence
    • How to Be an Effective Coach
    • Managing and Motivating Remote Teams
  • The Top Talent and Empowering Women programmes now include one-on-one coaching for participants
    • We delivered 56 of these coaching sessions, to allow participants to discuss, reflect and come up with meaningful actions.
  • 37 people were paired up as part our mentoring scheme in 2023. This provided one-to-one advice and support to individuals who wanted to enhance their personal and professional development.
    Mentoring is one of a number of ways in which Socitm aims to inspire, inform and empower anyone to achieve their personal and career objectives.
  • Our webinars were attended by 2,455 delegates.
  • Our alumni numbers increased by more than 600!  
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Member engagement

We have strengthened our ‘by the members, for the members’ philosophy in 2023. We established several channels of regular communication including monthly drop-in sessions and a dedicated ‘Member Voice’ group. This has helped provide a critical review of Socitm content which is vital to helping members make the most of their membership and demonstrate the ROI.  

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Social success

We delivered more content via LinkedIn as our main social media channel. Our followers increased by 17% to over 5,000. 

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Election buzz

Our most popular LinkedIn update was from June 2023 when we announced the election of Yogita Popat as a new vice-president.

You said, we did

In the run up to our December alumni event in Manchester, we spoke to members who were concerned about being able to make the event due to the current financial climate. We took this feedback and made an early decision to make the event virtual. This allowed a much more inclusive attendance from across the membership.

Direct member communications

Our newsletter was delivered to all members, every Friday throughout 2023. This easy to consume round-up of key topics covered at events or case studies to be aware of or what’s on, is proving to be a valuable information source for members.

Socitm’s online magazine, In Our View, has featured each of our national events, making sure the important discussions and further reading where captured for those not able to attend.

Increasing influence across the sector

Socitm continued to represent members on the national policy stage through positions on the Institute of Government & Public Policy, the LGA and Solace.  We have also strengthened our collective voice with closer working with allies including APSE, ADASS and GovNet to bring greater awareness to members of different views on key issues.

Socitm was a driving force in 2023 as part of a Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities programme of research into the effectiveness of its Local Digital Fund. We continue to work closely as part of the team delivering for DLUHC on behalf of local government.

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Benchmarking

This year we passed the milestone of collecting 25 consecutive years of data! As reliable benchmarking requires an element of stability, we chose to make relatively few changes. The exception to this being an update to our ‘User Skills’ module.

We also focused on educating our membership by holding webinars that explored the benefits of measuring and comparing an ICT service. These included the benefits of surveying user satisfaction and an interview with one of our participants on how they turn our reports into action plans.

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Widening interest

68 different organisations attended our webinars, showing a healthy appetite for benchmarking in future years.

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User focus

We have revamped our ‘User Skills’ survey to help you better understand your employees and find focus.

Other benchmarking stats

  • 14 organisations benchmarked
  • 6,240 responses from end-users
  • Our revamped ‘User Skills’ survey is helping organisations see where to focus their training and development budgets. For example, we noted:
    • 94% of users are able to use the internet to find solutions to work related problems.
    • 11% would still like more training on recognising suspicious weblinks.
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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Demonstrating our commitment to social responsibility, we engaged in impactful CSR activities throughout the year. A highlight was teaming with local government colleagues for the 3 Peaks Challenge to raise more than £45K for Cancer Research UK.

Our success didn’t end there. We also…

  • Supported the Bluebell Ball in February, which raised funds for the Take our Hand charity in Norfolk.
  • Ran a pilot youth conference for Norwich college, giving away free Belbin reports to students.
  • Raised more than £6,000 for Young Minds charity as part of a collaboration with Socitm Advisory.

For public good 

Our ambition to become a charity moved a step closer in 2023. Securing charity status will allow us to seek new funding opportunities and widen our reach with more resources, support and connections as a not-for-profit organisation. Our purpose as being for public good aligns with strategic investments in Impera and our institute (both covered below). 

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Partnerships

Following an incredibly successful Partner Day held in Northampton in September, we are working with more private sector organisations than ever before to help bring fresh thinking to our events, training, research and more. 

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Sold out!

President’s Conference and webinars were sold out and we had to put a halt on allowing any more partners.

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Collaboration success

New types of collaboration with AWS and Microsoft on training courses virtually.

Other partnership stats

  • 16 new partners this year, resulting in 54 partners in total for 2023! More and more private sector organisations want to get involved with our events, training and research.
  • Every leadership course was supported by a private sector organisation in 2023.
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Events

We held national, regional, and local events both in-person and hybrid to make sure everyone across our membership had the opportunity to learn, share and connect. President’s Conference, our stellar event of the year, saw a brilliant two days in Brighton where dynamic participation, connections with local government innovators and speakers elevated our discussions. We anticipate an even more inspiring lineup for the upcoming event in Birmingham in June.  

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En-masse

Nearly 3,000 people joined our events and conferences in 2023!

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Accessible to all

We offered an in-person or virtual meeting and trialled hybrid sessions with agendas driven by our members.

New appointments

In 2023, we welcomed Mark Lumley (director of digital & IT at Hounslow) as our new president, and Yogita Popat (assistant director for sustainability at Barnet) joined as a vice-president.

Other event stats

  • £2,629 raised for MindOut at President’s Conference.
  • 3 national conferences (Cardiff, Midlands, alumni)
  • We delivered 40 webinars on a range of subjects from cyber security right through to the essential core skills of leadership.
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Website

This year, our website has evolved hugely. As we release changes incrementaly, they might appear to be less impressive than if we were to release a large change all at once, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our design and development teams work tirelessly to listen to feedback and take on board member ideas and convert those into website presence improvements.

In 2023, we focused on:

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Accessibility

The design and dev teams worked hard on reworking some of our web elements, ensuring we work towards a website accessible to all.

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User journeys

More than ever before, we used data and feedback to not only move things around but also create new webpages that work better for you.

Our largest updates

Calendar

This was the most noticeable change this year. We changed the way the calendar is categorised to make it easier for you to browse what’s coming. We divided everything into events, training and webinars, with the first two having additional sub-filters available so that you can drill down your search. The usual regions, format (in-person or virtual) and upcoming/past filters are still there, too. We are now able to point you to a filtered calendar look, after improving the structure of our URLs.

On top of this, we also improved the look of our calendar’s subpages. They are now clean and succinct, providing clearer and more detailed information.

Resource hub

We reduced the use of PDF documents and moved most of our resources into HTML format. This is to ensure that the documents are easy to access and read on any device, but also to provide as accessible an experience as possible for any users with visual impairments. On top of this, we took the opportunity to update the look of things, as well as add a few useful details, such as social sharing and a more detailed categorisation for our publications (report/white paper/briefing/etc).

Other notable updates

  • We updated the main menu*
  • We cleaned up the look of our blogs and news pages
  • We simplified our footer
  • We changed the design of our Leadership Academy training detail pages (like this Empowering Women page), as we noticed user journey issues when looking at data, such as heatmaps from HotJar.
  • With the launch of the 2024 membership, we created a whole new webpage, focusing on making things easier to understand for you as our members
  • We added ‘breadcrumbs’ to our website
  • The homepage now has a scrolling banner highlighting most useful and interesting updates for you
  • We launched podcasts which sit within our resource hub
  • The partnership pages now have a cleaner look

To save you having to contact us, we also created two informational pages for you

* As we keep rethinking our website’s user journeys, the main menu needed an update. This is still work in progress, but so far we are pleased with the results. The menu’s division makes it easier for you to find what you are looking for, especially specific resources, events, training and webinars. It also allows an easy navigation of the ‘about us’ pages.