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One of the first projects on Peter Nelson’s list, when he joined Datacom’s leadership team earlier this year, was to help shape the vision and values for the 2025 strategy.
With seven years’ experience at Datacom in five different roles, he was well qualified to contribute.
“Values are like the lay lines on an America’s Cup course. They set a perimeter within which you operate, and it makes it easy to work through what could otherwise be really hard decisions, if they were viewed purely through a commercial lens.”
When everyone understands the company’s values, Peter says, it makes it much easier for people to consistently make good decisions that really serve customers, staff and stakeholders.
In his two most recent roles with Datacom - as Head of SaaS Product Engineering and now as Director, Local Government and SaaS Engineering - two values have sat at the heart of the work his teams are doing with local government: ‘exceed customer expectations’ and ‘look beyond today’.
Datascape is a cloud-based ERP system that Datacom designed specifically to meet the needs of local government, now and in the future.
“Councils and local body organisations have been underserved for some time. They’ve been working with old technology and not easily able to gain the efficiencies needed to make the most of their precious funds or to provide the contemporary digital experience expected by their staff and customers,” says Peter.
“We’re resolving that with Datascape by enabling staff and customers to interact and access information in really practical, useful ways.”
Datascape features applications to manage customer relationships, financials, properties and ratings, regulatory activities, HR and payroll activities, facilities bookings and the digital services offered by local body organisations.
The overarching aim of Datascape - and other core SaaS solutions developed by Datacom - is to deliver really good online experiences that make it easy for people.
Peter describes Datascape as offering a “single pane of glass” for the community into all the councils’ services.
“It gives people a personal picture of their interactions with their council, so instead of just getting information on your rates, you also get information on your dog registration, your weekly rubbish services and any permits you’re applying for, all in this one view.”
Another part of the solution that Peter says councils are finding really valuable is the Antenno mobile app.
“Councils often struggle to interact with their community in a way that gives people information when they need it and where they need it - and in a way that allows for two-way communication - but Antenno makes that really easy.”
Antenno allows users to identify the places and topics they care about and then councils can share targeted, relevant notifications. Gore District Council has adopted the system and used it as a critical communications tool during both the 2020 flooding and Covid-19 lockdowns.
Communications manager for Gore District Council, Sonia Gerken, says Antenna allowed the organisation to directly connect with its community and deliver information quickly, and increased engagement.
“Antenno has helped the public engage with us, and us with them, better than ever.”
The stats back that up: Antenno provides councils with usage reports and analytics so the Gore team could see that around 65% of their community on the app were engaging with their posts.
Datascape has been adopted by multiple other New Zealand and Australian local body organisations, including Dunedin City Council and South Australia’s Wattle Range Council.
Peter says there are massive future opportunities in terms of community engagement, building rich information ecosystems, and leveraging data and analytics, so councils can learn more about what their communities want and need.
“We believe our multi-decade commitment to the local government sector is a good example of Datacom’s promise to private and public sector organisations in Australia and New Zealand to find and deliver creative solutions to their greatest challenges.”
Before joining Datacom, Peter was managing director of a company with 120 staff that provided IT services and software consulting and development for around 1200 school customers.
After selling the business and joining Datacom, he initially worried he might find it uncomfortable being part of a large organisation but instead he says he has really valued the support and the growth opportunities.
“There is a lot of room at Datacom for entrepreneurial thinking and there is latitude and support to try things and to learn and grow. It’s a real meritocracy and if you consistently deliver for your team and peers and customers, there are lots of opportunities.”
Peter says Datacom’s ‘superpower’ is their ability to bring together amazing knowledge and skills across such a broad range of IT products and services to solve whatever challenges our customers may face.
“It is a real luxury to have the support of all the different teams in a big organisation like this, from marketing to HR to development teams. It’s a nice feeling to have an army of people behind you, working towards the same goals and guided by the same values.”