Wiltshire Council is using Microsoft virtual assistants to free up staff time

Wiltshire Council is using Microsoft virtual assistants to free up staff time
UK council assures that no jobs will be lost and staff will be trained with digital skills 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Wiltshire Council in England is using Microsoft virtual assistants (VAs) to free up staff time and improve how it delivers services to residents. 

The VAs are being used to carry out repetitive tasks, such as checking payrolls for schools, academies and council staff. VAs can do this much quicker than employees, conducting checks at one payroll per minute rather than one every 10 minutes. It can now also be done at any time of the day or night. The body has assured that no jobs will be lost as a result and that employees will receive training in digital skills.

 “This is a really exciting time and we have taken a huge step forward on our digital transformation journey,” said Ian Blair-Pilling, Wiltshire’s cabinet member for IT and Digitalisation. “Leveraging technology is a key part of our strategy and will shape how we deliver our services in the future, in the most cost-effective and efficient way for Wiltshire residents.

“We are an innovative council, and we plan to capitalise on further technological advancements to deliver our business plan. Our staff have been enthusiastic in embracing these opportunities and are excited about the changes it will bring to the way they deliver services.’’

The move to automation will allow Wiltshire Council to increase its revenue by taking on more school payrolls in the area. The council also plans to put VAs to work on 10 more processes in the coming months.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Wiltshire Council, its members and staff to deliver the best services possible to residents, businesses and visitors to the county,” said Phil Sheen, head of Public Sector at Thoughtonomy, which worked with Microsoft to roll out the VAs. “Our strategic engagement with the Wiltshire team will see us continue to work closely with them over the coming year to develop their virtual assistant capability. This also provides a new range of digital skills which will be embedded in the council and continues to demonstrate Wiltshire as a leading innovator in digital public services and citizen outcomes.”

“This is a key part of Wiltshire Council’s digital programme, which will make it simpler, quicker and easier for residents to access and enable services, while delivering significant savings to the council.”

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