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Evolving Digital Place

By Dr Gavin Beckett
2024-06-07 14:33:49
Evolving Digital Place

When we launched Digital Place for Local Public Services we shaped our approach in response to what we saw and heard in the local government market. 

In conversations with digital teams we heard that although many of the existing digital platforms were initially low cost when they were adopted at some point in the past decade, over time they had evolved to add new services and options. This led to complex pricing models typically based on user numbers and related volumes, with additional costs based on which modules you wanted to use. Consequently, creating a barrier to scale.

We also heard complaints about high day rates and a tendency to charge for everything - the worst example was when one of our clients had to pay for half a day of consulting time before their supplier would agree to a 15 minute call about their API,  which ultimately led to a dead end!

Added to this was my experience leading digital transformation in Bristol, where we had a strong commitment to an open standards based, loosely coupled architecture. We chose to work with multiple platforms and products, with the expectation that this would help us choose products that were the best fit for their purpose, and would insulate us from lock in. But in reality we found that a varied landscape of suppliers, products and integrations led to complexity that added cost to the delivery and support of new services, especially when trying to achieve a unified customer experience.

Digital Place origins

We created Digital Place to provide one platform, for one transparent subscription, enabling councils to scale to their ambition without paying more for users, projects or components. Our commitment to open standards, open APIs and open source code meant that we still provided the benefits of the loosely coupled architecture I aspired to in Bristol, but fewer of the downsides. And over the past 5 years several of our clients have bought Digital Place for exactly the purpose we created it.

But an equal number of clients only wanted to use elements of the product, and many prospective clients told us they were perfectly happy with one or more existing solutions and really just wanted the components in the platform that they didn’t currently have or weren’t satisfied with… they wanted to access a few of the platform’s cubes at a reduced price.

Staying true to one of our principles - transparent pricing and no secret deals - we’ve timed the launch of a universal new approach with our G-Cloud 14 submission.  All of these new bundles continue to reflect our commitment to open-source software and open APIs.

Greater flexibility

In response to the market we are introducing a flexible set of options. Those who still want to buy the whole platform can do so - Digital Place for Local Public Services remains, and we are keeping the subscription price the same for the 5th year - something we think is quite unusual in the market. We’ve been able to do this by investing in changes to the platform’s architecture and infrastructure, which have kept our costs down.

But for those who are happy with their web publishing platform, or who have an existing CRM, forms or low code platform they want to integrate with other services, we now provide several bundles.

  • Digital Place for Building Digital Services
  • Digital Place for Commerce
  • Digital Place for Customer Services
  • Digital Place for FOI, Complaints and Councillor Enquiries
  • Digital Place for Web Publishing
  Digital Place for FOI, Complaints and Councillor Enquiries Digital Place for Web Publishing Digital Place for Commerce Digital Place for Building Digital Services Digital Place for Customer Services Digital Place for Local Public Services
Web content management system Yes Limited to one public site Yes Unlimited sites Yes Limited to one public site Yes Limited to one public site Yes Limited to one public site Yes Unlimited sites
Low-code forms builder Limited use Yes   Yes Yes Yes
Low-code application builder for multi-stage processes and case management       Yes Yes Yes
Resident Account       Yes Yes Yes
Business Account     Yes Yes Yes Yes
Customer Contact Management (CRM)         Yes Yes
eCommerce     Yes     Yes
Generic Integration Connectors     Yes Yes Yes Yes
Local Government Integration Connectors       Yes Yes Yes
Service Cubes - integrated digital services       Yes Yes Yes
Pre-build standard case types Yes     Yes Yes Yes
Front-end form library       Yes Yes Yes

Continuous Value

In line with our commitment to ‘do the right thing’ this evolution of Digital Place is aligned to our clients’ needs. We believe this more flexible offer allows us to appeal to more of the local government market but also to wider markets. In addition to these commercial changes, the capability of Digital Place also continues to evolve. My next blog will highlight some of the new capabilities in our newest releases  including low code and AI.

Interested to find out more? Get in touch and book some time with us.


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Dr Gavin Beckett

About The Author

Dr Gavin Beckett

Dr Gavin Beckett leads Placecube's product management and user experience design teams, working with customers to understand the problems they need to solve, and collaborating with them to develop solutions in Placecube's Digital Place software as a service products, built on Liferay DXP. Digital Place offers a rapid way for organisations across the private sector, local public services, health, housing and communities to adopt open standards and open source based digital services, co-designed with customers, for re-use.  Prior to joining Placecube, Gavin spent 20 years in UK local government, where in his roles as Chief Enterprise Architect and Chief Digital Officer he led the design and delivery of digital services to improve residents and businesses experiences.

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