Can Cloud sourcing innovation drive effective sharing of Local Authority service information?

4 October 2012

Andrew Gunn

Andrew Gunn


Recently we have had the G-Cloud, allegedly making the world of Public Sector a leaner and meaner environment with Cloud based technologies. Now we have Big Data, Smart Business Analytics, In-Memory computing and the latest disruptive hype technologies such as BYOD.

Do any of these technologies associated with Enterprise Information and its management and analysis make any business sense to implement or even support the ability to deliver truly audit-able cash savings to the citizen and tax payer within Public Sector?

Incentivising the elephant in the room

I wonder how many Public Sector organisations who have attempted to join the Cloud bandwagon have truly realised business benefits from the exercise of transitioning to the Cloud? Or has it simply transitioned cost centres whilst increasing business risk, in many cases without even recognising it!

Interestingly when you look at the Public Sectors uptake of Cloud and the millions of pounds of investment System Integrators have spent on Cloud it would appear that uptake is trailing the private sector significantly.

Perhaps this is down to public sector job security, information security or simply down to politics. Or perhaps the lack of teeth our government has in terms of enforcing uptake of standard technology footprints to support day-to-day IT business operations across public sector organisations.

Maybe it’s because Central government is pretty polarised in the hands of a few SI’s making plenty of money (who are less likely to challenge the status quo unless forced to do so).

Perhaps before Central Government hands out the annual budgets to Local Authorities they might consider additional incentives to those seeking rationalisation and Enterprise Information sharing with other Local Authorities on their IT expenditure leveraging the aforementioned technologies efficiently and effectively.

I do find the lack of a consistent and common approach to Enterprise Information across Public Sector organisations is dismal (accepting that there will always be exceptions to the norm so please don’t shoot me). A while back I looked through the approach to Enterprise Information in both Sweden and Austria and found it to be incredibly forward thinking in context of Enterprise Information Management and sharing. I truly wonder with the sad events in Manchester this week whether greater and faster access to Enterprise Information across the public sector services enterprise just might have made a difference.

Power in the hands of a few – bring on Crowd Sourcing interacting
with Enterprise Information

Is it because Members and Chief Executives do not want to loose power by sharing Council infrastructure which opens up the possibilities of front and back office business processes collaboration on Enterprise Information. Ultimately leading to headcount reductions (or more common re-allocation of heads to other places!) and of course the obligatory loss of citizen popularity and ultimately political power for the few.

Having spent many years working in public sector IT organisations in and around Enterprise Information I have seen many irrational decisions taken simply to avoid a loss of power and control much in the face of constructive challenge. I would challenge public sector organisations to ask themselves the following questions. Of the 150 or so local services they all must provide why can’t they be the same, use the same technology and share the same Enterprise Information sets and interoperability ? Why when technology exists such as secure virtual private clouds with data residency in the UK is there still a massive fear of using these technologies under the banner of security!

One thing I do know is that organisations who are looking towards adoption of these news technologies should sit down and work out first of all what their objectives are and try some innovation around these new technologies to understand their use cases.

After all most of the benefits in the above aforementioned technologies will never be delivered through a paper on glass implementation of technology or even worse a lack of business case. These technologies require true Business Transformation to effect cashable and non-cashable savings. Technology implementations will never work!

Innovation is required to seek to identify new use cases which could never have been previously achieved with the aforementioned technology. Unless public sector organisations are encouraging innovation techniques such as Crowd Sourcing then i would doubt if there is a robust business case in sight.

A final thought

Perhaps Public Sector organisations should use Crowd Sourcing technology to understand how its citizens could support Local Authorities effectively in the discovery of such new innovative use cases!

Perhaps its time that Social e-Democracy from the “Outside” was used to help deliver more cost efficient services from “Inside” Public Sector organisations supporting more transparent sharing of Enterprise Information across all Public Sector services.


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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

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