Volume 1 May 2020 - Flipbook - Page 9
F U T U R E S
G O I N G
D I G I T A L
An interview with Richard Beards, Digital Manager at Northampton County Council and
Project Manager of Digital Northampton
Can you tell us a little bit about what it is that you
My job is Web/Digital Manager at Northamptonshire
County Council. I manage a team of 5 that is
responsible for the whole digital estate,
I also Project Manage Digital Northampton in
partnership with the University of Northampton. Our
aim is to promote the innovation taking place across
the county, help to build a community of people
either working or interested in tech, encourage these
people to collaborate in different sectors to help grow
the digital economy in our county and put
Northamptonshire on the map as a place for doing
What impact does your role have on
Hopefully a positive one! We have over 200,000
people each month using the council’s website. The
site is an important resource for people to do many
things, from finding and reserving library books,
applying for school places, booking an adult learning
course, report issues with the roads, paying parking
fines as well as finding support for your business,
reporting potential safeguarding issues with children,
finding a job at the council plus many many more.
For Digital Northampton, which does cover the whole
of the county, we want to promote our area as a place
for digital businesses to start up here, great digital
businesses to stay, students graduating from college
or uni to stay in the area and develop their career and
for bigger businesses to use our digital businesses
much more. We want to encourage a local digital
supply chain and make our county known as a real
The end result of this will hopefully be more high end
tech jobs for kids currently in school to go for when
they leave or graduate.
What impact do you think Covid-19 will have on the
world of work?
I think one of the positives has been to supercharge
digital! Projects that may have taken months to roll
out before , like giving everyone Zoom for virtual
meetings has been done in weeks. Even my mom has
started to use FaceTime with her friends, that’s a
I think people will carry on taking this to another level
once everything opens back up…people will work from
home much more in many roles and not be so reliant
on the office. Companies will be rethinking their
property strategies for sure, why spend billions on a
building when everyone can work from home.
Having said that, the sense of the community has
really returned with lots of people helping each other
out so keeping that sense of team spirit will be
important. I think it will be a blend of home/office
work for many people now.
What impact might it have for your industry?
I think the expectation level will be higher. People’s
digital literacy will have increased significantly in the
last 2 months and people will come to expect things
like laptops, working from home, virtual meetings,
work spaces in the cloud as the norm. They will
probably be asking “what’s next?”. So IT/Digital teams
and services will need to keep up with this new
demand for tech innovation.
I also think it may inspire many new entrepreneurs.
I’m seeing more and more people create their own
webinars, podcasts, YouTube channels, e-commerce
sites…this could be a real tech revolution for everyone…
not just the geeks!