Abstracts: April 10th, 2013

This Briefing from the Society for IT Managers offers advice on how to respond to the developing situation. The advice is based on a survey of IT trends which shows that the UK local authority ICT market has a value of £3.3bn, and provides employment for about 27,100 people.

The survey revealed that the central ICT unit in councils directly employ some 62% of staff. This compares with service departments which now only account for 8%. Only 2% work for shared ICT services, but 28% are outsourced.

Austerity is driving the shift away from devolving any responsibility for ICT to service departments. Of the total budget, central ICT spends 69% of revenue and 16% on capital, whilst departments have just 13% of the revenue spend, and a tiny 3% of the capital.

Staff costs absorb almost half the budget leaving a potential market of some £1.8bn for commercial suppliers to compete for.

The top issue for changing public services is increasing digital service delivery and channel shift to increase customer self-service – although nearly a quarter of public sector organisations have yet to adopt channel shift, either for customers or for employees.

Shared services comes a close second, with universal credit, increased transparency and open public services taking the next three places as top issues with little difference between them.

Providing strong governance for technology is the top issue for ICT leadership, followed by leading shared services in ICT, and then providing strong governance for information.

Information management features as the top issue for service improvement and is also top of the list of important activities for the ICT function.

Social networking has appeared on ICT managers’ agendas for the first time as commercial organisations start exploiting this important channel to communities. More than 40% of respondents expect their organisations to increase use of the channel.

Use of smartphones, tablets and BYOD have come from nowhere in the survey last year, to beat cloud computing, broadband and PSN and environmental and sustainability issues in 2012. Pressure from users and the possibility of using ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) schemes to reduce costs are twin drivers.

Familiarity with easy to use home ICTs and smartphones is developing a much greater understanding of the potential of information and technology among ICT service users, but there is a danger this opportunity will not be exploited by ICT managers, says IT Trends.

The report suggests that by remaining passive against a background of profound change in the operating environment, ICT managers risk being excluded from key decisions affecting themselves and colleagues, especially those about service redesign and ICT provisioning to support revised, or wholly new, business processes.

Report author Chris Head says the survey team ‘were surprised that ICT managers still see only a minor role for themselves in service modernisation. They report that, while respected for technical competence and advice, they lack credibility within their organisations in advocating and driving business process change outside their own departments. Our advice is that they work on developing the personal power exerted by politically astute individuals who can communicate effectively.’

Further information about the Briefing is available here.