Last month we attended the Kable Government Computing event in London. It was interesting to hear what was on the minds of public sector IT leaders.
There was a sense to us that the stagnation between the old and new worlds of IT is finally starting to evaporate. There appeared to be a general consensus that the pressures of austerity, changing demographics, citizen expectations etc., means that something NEEDS to be done. Organisations understand they can’t just simply throw away all of the past but they need to move into a new ways of delivering IT and services. The public sector seems to be at an inflection point.
Disruptors & Innovation
‘Disruption’ was a word we heard a lot. Everyone appears receptive to the idea of disruption and disruptors within this sector. Points were made about the disaggregation of suppliers and breaking the effective cartel of the traditional big players who have their customers boxed and locked in, restricting innovation and costing the earth. Agility and ease of access, management, maintenance – and exit – are becoming increasingly desirable.
Collaboration and Data Sharing
Other discussions were around collaboration and data sharing. The importance of this is widely acknowledged, especially within health and social care but with very little actually happening – and certainly not efficiently. Perhaps we need disruptors here?
There was also a lot of talk of standardisation – standard communications, standard APIs, standard data models etc. – with a need for central guidance and local control of delivery. The technology is ready but the hurdles still remain: privacy and security mentioned as expected, but also a resistance to expose the mess that existing data is in.
Platforms – Government as a Platform & Government 2.0
Platforms are closely linked to collaboration and data sharing in that standardisation is critical. Silos must be broken down to facilitate platform as an approach. Participating and consuming organisations must be ready for this. The lack of cross referenced or correlated data between organisations is really inhibiting the type of innovation that will deliver better, more efficient services.
As we listened, it brought to mind the “creaking” mountain of public sector infrastructure and technical debt. The NAO reported last year that at least £480 billion – yes, billion! – of the government’s operating revenues are reliant to some extent on ageing, legacy IT.
As a member of TechUK’s Public Services Board, we know legacy IT cannot be ignored. Older, increasingly obsolete systems pose a significant risk to operational delivery that will become harder to mitigate and manage over time. There needs to be a practical approach for using cloud to transform legacy infrastructure & services – to take advantage of this inflection point and deliver modern, cost-effective public services.
As a supplier of cloud consultancy and solutions – and strongly embedded in public sector – we agree! We want to be a disruptor. We believe strongly that there are other, more effective ways of delivering public services that enable agile suppliers and SMEs like us to deliver service innovation at low cost. Our history in cloud and our work with entrepreneurs developing new business models supports this view.
We are already working with public sector organisations on their transformations and you’ll hear more from us – and them – shortly as projects conclude. In the meantime, let us know what you think- are we at an inflection point for public services?
If you would like to have a chat with us about how we could help your organisation then don’t hesitate to get in touch.