In order to improve competition and attract millennial workers, the city of Mississauga, in Canada, has recently undertaken a digital transformation project : over the past 2 years, 90% of the city employees have been given a virtual private network (VPN)-connected smartphone and locker in place of a desk. A transition that is tough to bear for older workers, but which should be a source of interest for the new generation.
From Desk To Mobile
In Mississauga, Canada, town employees have had to go through a quite strange transition. Instead of being given an office and a desk, they are now provided with a virtual private network (VPN)-connected laptop, a smartphone and a locker. For Older workers, this transition comes as a tough change. No more photo of your family on your desk, no more paper stuffs, but just a phone, along with a computer for those who really need it.
But for younger workers, « this is cool »! CIO Shawn Slack explains that the working world is changing, and if the city want to stay relevant and attract millennial workers, they have to be mobile. Indeed, these millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, and the city has to adapt if they want young people to come to Mississauga and work there.
Besides, Slack says that if you have an office, you accumulate things, as if you go mobile, it eliminates the “paper bomb” that pile up on your desk.
How Mobility Changes Leadership
What the city did not realise when implementing this new strategy, is that it would bring other added benefits. Not only it has made the city more attractive to millennials, but also it has actually driven some transformations at the leadership level. For example, meetings are now conducted through WebX, which avoids many business trips. Also, the town’s IT department had implemented cloud-based solutions which have reduced 22 different recruitment methods to only 2. And these are just a couple examples amongst many others.
Besides, embracing mobile technology has also shifted the city’s corporate culture, says Slack. Directors have adjusted their expectations of employees and adopted new metrics to measure productivity. As an example, the IT department now measures response times for its service request and help desk system, as well as progresses made on its project portfolio, which it couldn’t quantify that well before. According to these measures, the « desk to mobile » transition helped improve productivity thanks to easy access to all sorts of documents and other success factors made possible with the new cloud-based solutions.
Residents Too Must Benefit From The Transition
According to Slack, embracing mobile technology brings little benefit to the City if citizens can’t make the most of it too. This idea came from the crisscrossing of two recent studies: one highlighting the fact that more than 30 millions Canadians are now on mobile devices, the other founding that income inequality in 2015 in the Greater Toronto Area had increased by 31% since 1980. If you marry these two reports, you get a better view on social resilience.
Following this research, the City of Mississauga has developed a plan to build out a mobile-friendly ecosystem across the town, aiming at delivering services and digital technology to the entire community, hoping that it will help to reduce the inequality in quality of life amongst its citizens.
The project is developed in partnership with the United Way, Region of Peel, University of Toronto Mississauga, Sheridan College, and its BIAs (Business Improvement Areas). The idea is to divide the town into 23 defined communities, with at least one central Hub per community built by the city. As for the United Way and the Mississauga Library System, they are to deliver 500 mobility kits per community (for a total of 11,500 kits) to residents which are enrolled in social support programs. The scheme seems quite simple, but Slack reminds that quality smartphones are still expensive and that it is not that cheap to have the internet.
Meanwhile, the Hubs, developed in partnership with some tech giants whose Canadian headquarters are base in Mississauga, will serve as primary offices for employees who need it, whether they are employed by the City or by private partners. The final goal is to build some 100 hubs, each serving an approximately equal amount of people.
Towards A City Of The Future
But the City of Mississauga does not plan to stop its transition here. It also projects to build some 500 « Connects » through the town, which are « indoor and outdoor spaces with voice-supported, augmented reality-compatible digital screens that will provide community information and free access to Wi-Fi ». And, of course, as access points are useless if you don’t know where they are located, the City is to launch a mobile app in order to inform its citizens of where exactly they can find hubs and connects.
Additionally, Wi-Fi will be accessible in every bus, themselves prioritised in the town’s traffic thanks to the new advanced traffic management system. This way, residents will benefit from a complete and uncut digital experience while traveling from a hub to another, or any other town destination.
And for those who worry about their personal data, the City has decided to publish its information as anonymous open data in order to avoid controversy.