What the Public Sector can learn from the Private Sector

12 December 2012

Andrew Gunn

Andrew Gunn


For those who work for public sector organisations, both central and local, and for service providers who care about delivering value to public sector, times are incredibly challenging. With the latest round of budget announcements and the re-base lining of CSR's  many local authorities,  already facing the dilemma of cutting service provision with the spiraling costs for Adult Social Care provision, will have to dig even deeper to save further costs or maintain a fiscal position.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change

Interestingly the Audit Commission published figures from 2007 to 2012 stating that some 70% of councils increased their cash reserves relative to their spending, with some more than doubling their cash reserves. Clearly, like so many private sector businesses, building up cash reserves is a prudent financial practice to take in the current climate of austerity.  The Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles reckoned people would be surprised that councils were "hoarding billions" while "pleading poverty". He said it was "disappointing and irresponsible that some sections of local government chose to scare the public with predictions of doom and gloom".

Taking some learning's from the private sector

Since 2007, things have been getting gloomier across the board in public sector. One thing which I am a great believer in is taking business practices and business sentiments from the private sector and using this to potentially change the way that public sector looks at and addresses challenges.

In many private sector organisations the concept of "spend to save" focused on the delivery of better service provision, customer acquisition and retention and the ability to make things cheaper to maintain profit in a flat sales environment and so on. Importantly, most of these private sector initiatives would fail without access to high quality information which these businesses can take actionable decisions on. 

The potential opportunities for Public Sector adoption here are significant. Below is a list of two things from many which public sector organisations could gain significant financial advantage from. The real question being-should they be prepared to dig into their reserves to provide great transparency to the citizen and taxpayer.


I believe that continued lack of focus on Information innovation and associated exploitation within local authorities could well mean that council services will continue to be cut back beyond the point of being viable. 

In summary

I believe that Information Management should be placed at the heart of democracy and greater focus should be applied to leveraging the value of Information assets to deliver strategic value. Perhaps, a "spend to save approach" with Information centric innovation may keep public sector away from the "tipping point" of closing citizen services.


View comments


Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.

Security code

About the author

Andrew Gunn


Coming from Newcastle my simple analogy to my entire career is to think about the many marvellous bridges across the River Tyne. I have spent over 24 years bridging the gap between client’s business challenges and technology helping my clients spend wisely. I am a highly experienced Digital Transformation evangelist specialising in the field of Information Management using Big Data and Mobile technologies delivered through the Bluefin Solutions Public Sector and Services business unit.

Simply speaking, I work for my clients in local government in either Customer services, Finance, Procurement or HR, helping them to get more value from the right data at the right time. These challenges are not new, they are simply bigger because there is more stuff to process.

I have worked on more than 15 projects in Public sector over the years - ranging from client side digital strategy engagements (£20k+) to forming an integral part of larger teams delivering mega projects (£500m+) for my clients in various roles such as Technical Design Authority, Digital Strategist, Business Architecture Design and Programme Management. A key aspect of my Digital Transformation passion is to ensure that I identify and deliver real transformational led savings with examples ranging from £0.5m to £20m per annum saved across a wide range of organisations.

What frustrates me is that many firms bamboozle their clients with complexity. Often recommending unnecessarily overly engineered solutions costing in excess of £5m. Big data challenges are not new, it’s about the right data at the right time in the right format, managed properly. I believe that working collaboratively with our clients to deliver complex Enterprise Information Management challenges simply is vital to achieving sustainable results. This, rather than doing transformation to our clients, as adopted by certain organisations, is the way I like to work.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

We use cookies to provide you with the best browsing experience. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies.