Customer Spotlight: Metropolitan Police Service

Leading Microsoft’s Worldwide Enterprise and Partner business gives me the chance to talk with our customers on an almost-daily basis. I spend about three-quarters of my time meeting with our more than 12,000 customers spanning over 100 countries as well as our enterprise field sales teams. It’s a diverse group that garners more than 55 percent of Microsoft’s annual revenue, making the commercial space an extremely important segment of our business.

Our CEO Satya Nadella talks about bringing innovation to our enterprise customers who are experiencing the rapid pace of change in a cloud-first, mobile-first world. In this world, we work continually to meet their current requirements while planning for future needs. To do this, I work closely with my Enterprise Strategy team in devising innovative approaches that help customers improve business performance and harvest maximum value from their investments in Microsoft technologies.

This conversation is the first of a three-part series highlighting customers who are implementing bold cloud-based strategies to accelerate their business goals and transform their businesses.

The Metropolitan Police Service in London, England (also known as the ‘Met,’) has undertaken a four-year crime plan to implement effective policing and crime prevention. It also works diligently to make sure suspected criminals under arrest are easily and effectively logged into the criminal justice databases. At the same time, police are gathering larger quantities of contextual evidence to help them solve crimes.

Richard Thwaite is the CIO of the Metropolitan Police Service in London, based at New Scotland Yard.

Susan Hauser: Richard, tell me more about your role. I understand you provide and administer technology for the Met, from forensics tools to the devices and services that officers use on the street, to intelligence and analytics for standard policing, counterterrorism, and diplomatic and royalty protection. Is that correct?

Richard Thwaite: That’s correct. I joined the Met a year ago and part of my role was to transform the technology that the Metropolitan Police are using and to get greater value from our existing technology. We’re really interested in transforming how the police in London are using technology, because there’s a huge opportunity to do things much more effectively, to improve the ability to solve crimes and increase public confidence in the precinct.

Susan Hauser: Microsoft’s Enterprise Strategy is focused on helping customers reach their business goals while maximizing value from their technology investments. How have you seen this in your work with us?

Richard Thwaite: I approached Microsoft on that very basis, challenging them to help us reach our business goals. Microsoft was very keen to engage, so it became a joint approach, with them offering us their Enterprise Strategy practitioners and architects to help us on this journey together.

The Microsoft employees we have onsite have unparalleled expertise of the Microsoft technology portfolio and are able to deliver technology-enabled business solutions to solve issues at the Met. Having an employee work with us on a day-to-day basis has helped us improve organizational productivity and ultimately improve our performance as a business.

Susan Hauser: What are those areas you focused on changing?

Richard Thwaite: One is around custody suite imaging; this is about how we deal with our suspects when they arrive at the police station. We didn’t have an effective process for capturing photographs and the technology was very old, so it was a cumbersome and difficult process for both police and suspects.

We took a look at the issue with Microsoft and put in some touch screens and tablet devices that allowed the officers to easily and quickly get photos taken and add information. Things like the clothing, identifying marks, et cetera. If you can do that simply and easily, then you’re able to capture a much richer context of information, and that can then be very effective in associating suspects with crimes.

It’s really about getting the Microsoft people to go out and work with the police: being in the custody cells, going on patrol and seeing the whole process. As they do that, they learn so much more, and are able to bring innovative thinking and experience. A big advantage of having external people coming in is that they can look at the process with a new set of eyes and with different thinking.

Susan Hauser: How does this change the way you pay for software?

Richard Thwaite: This is very much the software-as-a-service type of model, where we are paying for the services that we want and integrating them into our overall technical environment. We are now able to use and pay only for the technology we need.

One example is looking at tracking offenders: We’re looking at people who have committed offenses, they’ve been subject to sentence, may have left prison and are now being tagged. By tracking and mapping their movements against our crime database, we can compare and see if they were involved in further crimes. It dramatically reduces recidivism, because they know they’re being tracked.

I want to emphasize this is them volunteering to wear these tags, because they want to stop offending. It helps them, it gives us a lot of valuable information and it reduces crime. That tagging information is a service we’re buying and paying a monthly fee for. If we decide we don’t need it any more, we stop paying for it.

Susan Hauser: I assume that with all of these changes, your budget is not necessarily going up.

Richard Thwaite: No, exactly, it’s the opposite. Our budget’s going down in the next three years, and in the IT department we are reducing costs between 20 and 30 percent. We’re trying to keep all 32,000 officers while reducing our cost. That means the back-office functions, like technology, have to do more in order to help deliver the savings that the Met needs.

Not only are we cutting costs, we’re also saving a ton of time. Typically it was taking over two years to get a project up and running; now we’re turning things around within a three- to four-month period. It’s great because we are saving money and time while delivering a much better technology service at a lower cost.

Parts two and three of the Customer Spotlight will feature conversations with executives from Toyota and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals to hear how they utilize technology investments as competitive assets while growing their businesses.

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