June 2011 Archives

Is offshoring still making students of Computer Science the largest unemployed group of graduates?

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I blogged last year about figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). They showed unemployment rates for recent graduates in different subject areas in 2009.

In 2009 recent Computer Science graduates had the highest rate of unemployment six months after graduating, with 17% out of work. Add to this the fact that many that were in work might not have been working in a job related to their degree and you have a problem. One exacerbated by the offshoring of IT jobs, according to many.

The offshoring of IT work is always seen as a major hindrance to the UK IT profession. I could probably do an entire blog or two dedicated to this subject alone.

One year on and Computer Science graduates still have the misfortune of topping the league. The figures below are for 2010. Computer Science graduates still have the highest rate of unemployment after six months of graduation, but the proportion has gone down to 14%. Here is a link to the data.

Here are examples of the 2010 figures for graduate unemployment:

Computer science 14%

Communications 13%

Education 5%

Veterinary Science 4%

Medicine & dentistry (approximately 0%)


Here are the figures from 2009:


Computer science 17%

Communications 14%

Architecture 13%

Engineering 13%

Creative arts 13%

Business studies 11%

Maths 10%

Languages 9%

Biological science 9%

Law 6%

Education 5%

Medicine 0%

Union fears Lloyds Banking Group will offshore huge IT consolidation project?

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Lloyds Banking Group could be on the verge of offshoring large volumes of IT work as it starts to consolidate multiple IT systems.

The bank said in its statement today that it would be embarking on developing better IT platforms. It said: "Simplify the Group to improve service and deliver £1.5 billion of annual savings in 2014, through better end-to-end processes and IT platforms."

Lloyds' commitment "not to offshore further UK permanent operational roles," sounded positive given thehuge number of IT jobs that have been cut in the UK and in the light of extensive IT work planned.

But Steve Tatlow at the Lloyds TSB Group union says that "permanent operational" roles at Lloyds Banking Group terminology do not include IT jobs.

He said in fact there is likely to be more offshoring of IT, particularly as the bank attempts to reduce the number of different banking platforms it uses. Because Lloyds has reduced IT staff numbers significantly over recent years it will have to outsource. Obviously offshoring will be an attractive option to a firm trying to cut costs.

Tatlow called for the bank to complete the IT work, which might involve building platforms from scratch, in the UK but because Lloyds has cut so many IT workers he expects the work to be sent offshore.

At the time I wrote this a Lloyds Banking Group spokesman could not confirm how the bank catagorises "permanent operational roles." 

Can shared services do more than just cut overheads?

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Shared services in all but name have been around longer than most social media CEOs, but as a result of tough times they're being pushed to the fore. 

But can they be more than just putting servers from a group of organisations into the same building and actually add value on top of cost cutting?

It is not a step into the unknown for many organisations but a refresh of an old concept.
As early as the 1960s bureau services were set up to provide mainframe resources to complete particular technology based businesses processes for financial services firms.

But today technology advances mean shared services can go a step further and innovate. But this is where the sharing aspect might lose its charm and where the public and private sectors need to share with care.

The public sector in particular has seen shared services rise to the top of current IT debate as organisations face steep budget cuts.
Many public sector organisations in central government, local government as well as services such as the police and health have identical IT processes. Sharing these processes makes sense.

For example the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy says 96% of local councils are moving to shared service. And Ovum predicts 50% of European public sector bodies will use shared services in two years.

Because public sector organisations do not compete, the business case for sharing services appears obvious at first glance. So compelling that one industry source recently told Computer weekly that "anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see that shared services are a good idea in government."

But some intelligence is certainly required for anyone selecting a shared service, which can come in different forms in the public sector. They can be partnerships between public sector organisations or public and private sector joint ventures, for instance.

Organisations should approach shared services with caution, according to Rod Matthews, a veteran CIO and transformation expert in the public sector. Matthews has worked at Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, the Cabinet Office and the London Borough of Barnet. 

"Any organisation should go into shared services with their eyes wide open," he says.

He says sharing commodity IT services in any sector is straightforward but he warns that organisations must look into the future before signing shared services contracts for technology enabled business processes. 

"Shared Services have significant advantages, but this delivery route needs to come with a bit of aforethought. If you only specify continuing things as-is, or you think it is a magic bullet, you might find adapting around your shared service to be labour intensive."
"Seated above the commodity are the technology enabled business processes. These are often bespoke and will likely have a range of possible forward plans."

He said future developments such cross public sector data sharing or process changes, which could come as a result of new government policies, could mean a shared service may no longer be appropriate.
Matthews says many shared services are in the form joint ventures, with suppliers taking overall management responsibility. The government has also revealed, in a leaked document, that joint ventures could be the way forward in cutting costs rather than wholesale outsourcing .

But Matthews warns organisations to take care when signing deals to ensure that the supplier can share and support their long term plans, even when things change.

It is not only communities in non-competitive sectors, such as those in the public sector, that can benefit from shared services. And it is not just about cost cutting either with shared knowledge and requirements also stimulating innovation.

Perhaps the most competitive of all sectors, the banking sector, provides an example of competitors sharing technology successfully.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) is a not-for-profit cooperative that provides a network that sends an average of 17 million financial transaction messages every day across 209 countries. It is used by over 8000 finance firms.

It began in 1973, with 239 banks on board from the start.

Swift demonstrates how even companies engaged in cut throat competition can share core business processing resources to cut costs. But it also demonstrates how a shared service can go further and innovate.

Kosta Peric, head of innovation at Swift, says his team, which is in constant contact with member organisations, proposes and pilots new.

Swift, for instance, is currently proposing Swift as a vehicle to provide cloud-based services. These include a financial services app store, identity management applications and mobile banking software.

But there could be a limit to this. Celent analyst Gareth Lodge says there is a fine line between cooperation and competition and, as a result, Swift's community model could limit its potential in providing additional services. "If banks use the same platforms there will be no way to differentiate unless the supplier provides enough tools to allow them to do so," Lodge added.

But he believes there is a role for an organisation like Swift. He says there is an opportunity for a service provider to become a "trusted cloud broker", and this kind of supplier will validate the services available in the cloud and check that suppliers are meeting service level agreements (SLAs). 

James Martin, former IT COO Europe at Lehman Brothers, says there is a boundary between the commoditised back-end and the bespoke front-end at banks. "I still have the feeling banks believe they can differentiate on things like websites, but if someone can push the boundary between commodity and bespoke services by adding functionality to commodity services it could change this," he said.

The latest economic slowdown has left an indelible mark on the business sector, one which has sharpened the focus on using technology to cut costs and differentiate. Technology-enabled shared services have the backing of cost conscious decision makers, while technologies such as cloud computing provide a potential vehicle for them. Could this be the perfect storm for shared services to evolve into more than just a reducer of the costs of hardware and people?

Everything Everywhere cloud computing project will have implications for an industry

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Back in March I wrote about Everything Everywhere's outsourcing deal with T-Systems.


Everything Everywhere is the UK joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile. It has outsourced its IT to T-Systems for 7 years for £700m.


The deal will see 40% of internal systems move to the cloud within three years.


Mark O'Conor, partner and cloud computing specialist at law firm DLA Piper, says that this project will be watched closely and its success or failure could have reverberations on the cloud industry. 


"This deal is going to save Everything Everywhere a significant amount of money - good news for shareholders and, potentially, the consumer. However, there is a huge amount riding on it as its success is likely to have significant implications for the cloud computing industry," said O'Conor.


"Everything Everywhere is putting an enormous amount of trust in the cloud, particularly in light of recent high-profile hacking incidents and if anything were to go wrong, it is likely to impact other organisations' decisions as to their own cloud strategies. The financial services industry for example has shown serious interest in the benefits of cloud and is likely to be watching closely."

Could the public cloud be in the sights of large corporates as delayed IT refresh becomes necessity?

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Now that cloud computing has been accepted as the way forward for corporate applications the debate is whether companies will build private clouds or make use of the clouds already available from suppliers.

The general feeling has been that large companies will build private clouds while small companies will take advantage of cloud computing to the full.

I once interviewed an IT expert at a university who described to me what true cloud computing was in his opinion. He said pure cloud computing in business, in the public cloud sense, would mean every user is connected into the cloud and when they request a service the computer will automatically find the most appropriate service at the best price.

A step too far for corporates but they could be moving closer to the public cloud. While core business applications stay in-house cloud or not, services such as email, anti-virus and even storage might move to the public cloud.

I recently had a conversation with Mark Lewis, who is an outsourcing lawyer at Berwin Leighton Paisner. He told me that large customers that he works for are now looking at the cloud for certain applications as and when they need to refresh. He says public cloud services from the likes of Amazon, Google, VMware and Microsoft are being considered.

"It is happening slowly but it is happening," he said. "Some very large companies are looking at their IT infrastructure because they have not renewed for a number of years. He said they have no plans to put things like SAP in the cloud.

Anjan Lahiri, IT services CEO at tier-two Indian service provider MindTree, agrees that there is a slow acceptance of applications in the public cloud.

"Innovative and new applications are candidates for the public cloud but they are not rushing out the door to put things in the public cloud."

He says infrastructure applications like email, anti-virus and storage are being considered for the public cloud but in terms of core customer systems he does not see any change from what is happening now.

Mark Bramwell is head of IT at the Welcome Trust which recently moved its IT service Management into the cloud.

He said the charity is beginning to explore the cloud for business applications as part of its IT strategy which kicks off in October. "We are exploring the cloud for legacy applications that come up for upgrade and when we bring in new ones."

Previously Wellcome Trust had small scale cloud based systems for HR and its investments but its move to ServiceNow's ITSM in the cloud was a key step.

But Bramwell says security fears are still big obstacles. "The doubt that we are going through at the moment given the press coverage of the public cloud is security."

The obstacles to Open Source in the public sector

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I blogged earlier this month and asked whether systems integrators are holding back the adoption of Open Source in government?

This is what some respondents had to say about systems integrators and Open Source software:

"Systems integrators are not holding back the take up of Open Source in the public sector it is just paranoid rubbish."

"I am sure some systems integrators are holding Open Source in the public sector back, however I know that the more progressive systems integrators aren't."

"I think systems integrators are holding back Open Source. I have no examples but industry sees public sector as a cash cow."

"The government IT capability is rarely willing to challenge the views of system integrators."

"Money is the reason system integrators hold back Open Source. With open source their profits go down."

"System integrators are holding Open Source back.  Particularly the reseller SIs who have a significant conflict of interest to deal with and will erode sales margins by doing so. Equally the government employs consultants who aren't oriented towards open source solutions but aligned and accredited to vendor programmes."

I also asked people which apps could be moved to open source in the public sector. Here are some of the suggestions:

"In the NHS, most apps are now being brought out as web apps. Upgrading Office suites costs so much and Open office does everything that a standard user could ever want to so.

"Office suite desktop."

"All of it."

"Low end repetitive task administration functions."

"Desktop computing, online services. Some back-office systems."

"Email and cloud."

This is what some of the respondents that believe the take-up of Open Source software in the oublic sector will increase gave as reasons:

"Basic economics."

"We can't afford to upgrade our current Microsoft fleet of applications but need to move forward."

"Governments cannot afford not to in the face of economic conditions."

"They are already using it."

Some of the respondents that do not see Open Source increasing in the public sector gave these reasons:

"Too often the spec has a line 'use Oracle' etc."

"I work in local government IT and there is massive pressure to stay with Windows because nobody in-house knows Linux."

"Cannot see the mechanisms through which Open source will be actively driven and supported on any significant scale."

"Support and integration costs of Open Source software are too high."

Read this Computer Weekly blog by Mark Ballard for more on the Open Source in government debate.

If you want to give your opinions please fill in the questionnaire below.

Capgemini buys foothold in China

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After gaining access to the massive Brazilian market through the acquisition of CPM Braxis last year, Capgemini has put its roots down in China with the acquisition of Praxis Technology in Beijing.

Praxis is a specialist IT and consulting company which specialises in the Chinese utility market. It offers business management consulting services, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation and application and software development services.

This will not only give Capgemini access to an economy that looks set to be the world's biggest but it will also give it offshore resources in a country with a high level of education and skills in IT.

China has 350,000 computer science graduates every year and they cost less than their equivalents in India. Chinese service providers such as Bleum and VanceInfo are currently targeting the UK market for growth.

They have good staff. Bleum for example four stage recruitment process, which is pretty tough.

1 - Candidates must reach 140 in an IQ test.
2 -There is a skills test and people are chosen depending on the demand for particular skill
3 - Candidates must speak a good level of English.
4 - Then there is a behavioural test.

Multi-national customers of the IT service providers are interested in receiving services from China because it will give them a foothold in the Chinese market. See this blog post I wrote about it earlier. In 2008 IDC said offshoring to China will grow 23% every year until 2013 when it will be worth $6,8bn

With the Chinese, Brazilian and other high growth regions attractive to service providers there might come a point when UK customers become less important from a revenue point of view.

Indian biometric ID scheme poverty alleviation mission gathers pace

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The explosion of IT companies in India has done little to alleviate extreme poverty within the sub continent, but could the biometric ID card programme currently being implemented create real change?

Last year I wrote about the project. I did so following the news that tier-two Indian IT services provider MindTree was awarded a software development and maintenance contract to support the complex software that will authenticate every Indian citizen using biometric technology.
I caught up with MindTree's IT services CEO Anjan Lahiri, who I interviewed last year, and he gave me an update. He also described how the ID scheme will change the lives of hundreds of millions of people, in a positive way.

Thumbnail image for Anjan Lahiri Picture fav.jpg

Lahiri said the software from MindTree is the most visible IT in the scheme, but is probably the smallest component.

MindTree's software has now enrolled a total of 6 million people. This process sees citizens visit an enrolment centre. Give their details as well as have their identities biometrically recorded. They are then given an identification number.

Lahiri said the pace of enrolment is soon to increase to one million citizens per day.

- The biometric ID card scheme in India will see all 1.3 billion Indian citizens receive an ID card that authenticates their identity through biometric checks.

- It will sign 600million people up in total.

- Each person registered will have an estimated 5 megabytes of data and the datacentre that will hold the information will have 4 Terabytes of data coming into it every day during peak enrolment periods. This will be about the biggest non commercial datacenter in the world.

Lahiri told me last year that the project will succeed in India, where the UK failed, because it is about alleviating poverty rather than privacy.

He described how giving people an identity will allow them to get a bank account. The cornerstone of life these days.

But he went further and explained how the ID scheme will support a cashless society. He said all vendors will have a biometric reader and citizens can pay for things with a fingerprint scan. Even a bag of rice.

He said mobile phones have already transformed life for millions in India. He told me a story of how mobiles have changed the lives of fishermen as an example.

A fishing boat has just made its catch. The captain checks his net and wonders where to dock to sell it. A few phone calls later he goes to the dock that is demanding supplies. This way he sells everything at the best price.
When I was at university I studied India a lot in my degree which was Development Geography. Actually it was Third World Development Studies, but "third world" has negative connotations and let's face it India is in the space race now.

At the time I wouldn't have believed what a difference IT could make to India. It was never really something we discussed. Hard to believe that.

But today as a journalist at Computer Weekly I find myself writing about India every day.

Is UK smart metering project an NHS IT disaster in the making?

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The Government's Smart Metering Implementation Programme (SMIP) aims to have smart energy meters in 30 million homes as well as businesses by 2020.

It is part of the UK's plan to cut carbon emissions by helping consumers and businesses better control their energy usage. These meters communicate with a central system at regular intervals. This can give consumers accurate information on their usage and enable them to make cuts.

This project will require a company to be set up, known as the Central Data and Communications Company (DCC). This will manage the data that smart meters send and receive. The DCC will require services from IT and communications service providers. It will collect information from smart meters in homes and send information on to utility companies to enable them to bill accurately. This will be a massive IT shop.

All this as well as the need for smart meters, smart communicating sensors, modules, advanced communications networks and then things like security will make this a major project. The problem is that the public don't seem to be behind it.

Research has shown that consumers are not up for it because it is likely to cost more for energy and the promised savings in the long run will not be guaranteed. Basically most people would rather save money than the planet. Part of the problem is the government have not done enough to sell the cost advantages to consumers.

So we have a huge IT project that people don't seem to support. The very same people that are paying for it through taxes. In a few years people could just see the project as a lot of very expensive IT projects that don't deliver any savings.

This would be a shame because protecting the environment is important. But the government must better communicate the financial savings people can make. This will require a lot of education and if consumers want to really save money they will have to have smart devices to link to the grid and use power efficiently. So there is investment needed in homes as well.  

Could this be another NHS Project for IT (NHS NPfIT) in the making? What I mean is there is a lot to do and a lot of money required to do it and there seems to be lots of points of failure. The fact that the public aren't really behind it could be the excuse a government needs to cancel it. Just like NHS NPfIT.

App store for banks in incubation

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The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) is experimenting with an app store for banks. Swift, which is a cooperative shared service, has been offering a payments messaging service to banks for 40 years.

I picked this up in an interview with Swift's head of innovation.

App stores are seen as a way for communities of organisations to buy pre-approved applications via a cloud. Apple's App Store is the best known and the government's app store, which is part of its G-Cloud initiative, is a high profile example.
The government app store plans to give public sector organisations access an online catalogue of applications, some developed by public sector organisations and some by third parties. Contracts will have already been negotiated and the systems will be fit for purpose.

Obviously with it being the public sector with all the spending cuts this might not see the light of day for a while. Especially when they are yet to build the cloud that the app store will sit in.

But financial services companies could achieve it much quicker if the thousands of finance firms that are Swift members decide to go for it. Swift's innovation team currently has a financial services app store in incubation. If it goes live banks that are members will have access to applications from Swift itself as well as third parties.

This will contain Swift applications and some from other software companies.

But although banks are  known for pioneering IT they are also highly conscious of the fine line between competition and collaboration. As a result the community nature of Swift could be the biggest hurdle.

There have however been suggestions that banks are losing their appetites for in-house software development. If this is the case an app store for banks could come at the right time.

Gareth Lodge, analyst at Celent, says this will probably only work if there are enough tools available for banks to create bespoke versions of software to help them differentiate. He also said that Swift's cloud has a big advantage over competitors such as Amazon when it comes to continuity. It boasts 99.999% up-time from its launch in the 1970s.

D-day for Everything Everywhere IT and big test for cloud computing on July 01

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An ambitious target of transferring 40% of internal IT systems to the cloud at mobile operator Everything Everywhere will soon be put to the test.

Back in March the UK joint venture between T-Mobile and Orange, know as Everything Everywhere, signed a seven year IT outsourcing deal with T-System. The agreement is thought to be worth about £700m.

T-Systems is part of the Deutsche Telekom group like T-Mobile but the joint venture weighed up its options before signing the deal. The Orange IT infrastructure, which is run in-house is said to be twice the size of T-Mobile's in the UK.

On July 01 the complete IT infrastructure will move to T-Systems' control.

There will be 200 staff that will transfer from Orange to T-Systems and the two major centres where employees are will stay in the same place. There are no redundancies in this outsourcing deal, which makes a change.

The hard work will however begin now. T-Systems has been set the challenge of moving 40% on internal systems to the cloud within three years.

The deal is for the delivery of desktop services, datacentre operations and infrastructure management, IT applications support and ITIL support processes to support 16,000 staff.

Will banks avoid the mistake of DIY internet banking platforms and opt for shared mobile banking?

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Everybody is looking at the cloud right now.  This might be a private cloud that sits within an organisation, the public cloud which harnesses software on the web or a community cloud where companies with similar needs share software that doesn't give them any differentiation.

The third option is of particular interest to me because I recent interviewed a couple of senior executives at the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift). This is a messaging service currently used by over 8000 finance organisations.

The not for profit cooperative began in 1973, with 239 banks on board from the start. It provides a network that sends an average of 17 million financial transaction messages every day across 209 countries.

I interviewed Swift's head of innovation, Kosta Peric, last week. I will be writing some articles following my interview with Peric and an earlier one with its IT head. But I found his views on how banks will build mobile banking platforms interesting.

He told me a story of the retail banks in the 1990s. He said at the time the banks all knew that customers would want to bank from home. So they all decided to build their own internet banking platforms.

They invested lots in them in the belief that they could differentiate. But as it turns out they don't offer differentiation. They are all basically the same but banks spent money separately to build standard features such as the all important security. "They spent an enormous amount of money but it does not add a lot of value," says Peric. "They could have established a shared service." He says banks in Belgium share an internet banking platform.

This all reminded me of a conversation I recently had with an executive at a major IT service provider. We were talking about how so many things that in the past were core differentiators are no longer. He was talking in the context of outsourcing and how less and less needs to be done in-house.

It is very important for businesses to be able to identify where they can actually differentiate through technology. Even new services which are business critical, might not offer the opportunity to differentiate.

Peric at Swift says an example of this is mobile banking. All banks want to offer mobile banking to consumers so they can reach every corner of the world. Smart computing devices will outnumber people at the current growth rate.
But should banks develop their own platforms or could they share one from a provider such as Swift? After all it is all just about sending a message securely across a mobile network.

Peric said he recently attended a meeting with banks that are members of the Swift community when mobile banking platforms were discussed. He said: "We are asking the banks if they are going to do it themselves again?"

IT service provider crystal balls predict IT revolutions in public and private sectors

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Global corporates will use consumer technology to support a new generation of employees while public sector organisations introduce IT that empowers citizens to do more for themselves.

These are the visions of IT service providers, Cognizant and Steria, who are predicting massive changes in how technology affects our working and private lives.

Steria has just published a report entitled 'The Future', while Cognizant has created a model of how business will be done in a few years in it's the 'Future of Work' initiative.

Steria says that sectors such as healthcare and education, which will have to come to terms with budget cuts, will introduce self-services as they attempt to match the convenience and low cost base of private sector services.

"The benefits derived from commercial sector innovations - namely, more control, flexibility and self-determination over how services are received - could soon be extended to customers of essential healthcare, education and security services," says Steria.

In healthcare the Steria report says the introduction of sophisticated self-diagnosis tools to cut waiting list times and improve patient care, remote diagnosis through virtual video or teleconference appointments. It also expects the use of telemetrics and remote monitoring of city inhabitants to give early warning of impending health issues and machines will be used to run simple tests such as heart rate, blood pressure, eye examinations, through the interface of a computer screen.

In education the report expects textbooks  will largely be replaced by the internet in classrooms. It also believes touchscreen, interactive whiteboards will become standard. It expects every schoolchild in the EU will be issued with a laptop or tablet computer.

Francois Enaud, Group CEO, Steria, says the changes will happen within our lifetimes. "...everyday public services will mirror what we can only imagine today as futuristic scenarios," he said. "The convenience-driven, commercial innovations of recent years will increasingly penetrate public services, enabled by renewed investment in services that improve standards of living across global communities."
"The future of products and services is already laid out in front of us, and it is all driven by the consumer," explains Enaud. "All that's required in between is the innovation from companies and governments to make this foresight a reality."

See Steria's report here. steria.pdf

Meanwhile Cognizant's consultancy arm is readying itself for massive changes in how business is done in the future, much of which is driven by the fact that a third of workforces and customer bases will be millennials. These are the generation of people that have grown up with web technologies.

In its 'Future of Work' initiative Cognizant says the Millennial mindset will change how people communicate in work and with customers, while technologies such as the cloud, mobile and business analytics will change business processes. There will also be real time collaboration between workers distance and time will be unimportant as globalisation means resources can be accessed from anywhere.

Mark Livingston, who heads up Cognizant's consultancy business globally, says the traditional corporate model will change dramatically.

See more about Cognizant's initiative here.

How do you transfer from public sector IT to the private sector?

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With the public sector currently creating jobs faster than the public sector is cutting them, now could be the time for IT professionals in the public sector to consider a move to the private sector.

Recent government figures revealed that public sector employment fell by 24,000 in the first quarter of 2011 while private sector increased by 104,000 to 23.07 million.

With the public sector expected to increase the amount of outsourcing it does, as well as attempt to cut its costs IT workers in the public sector will be in the firing line

As a lot of the readers of this blog are IT professionals that have done their time in both sectors I asked what it takes to make it in the private sector.

It won't be easy and it might actually involve working for an IT supplier. 

Here are some of the things that people told me:

I ran a survey some weeks ago and asked whether UK public sector IT workers are equipped to do the job in the private sector?

A total of 96 people responded. 51 said No, while 45 said yes.

Here are some of the other questions I asked and the responses I got.

What advice would you give to public sector IT professionals attempting to get into the private sector?

"Be prepared to start lower than your pay grade and work your way up by learning that business speaks more clearly than politics. Numeracy."

"Rethink your aspirations and attitude.  Start shouldering some responsibility and read industry magazines to at least try to stay in touch with the pace of technology."

"Go contracting."

"Be prepared for an awful lot of knockbacks based on preconceptions of what the recruitment industry and the industry itself thinks you are."

What are the main differences were between working in public sector IT and private sector IT.

"Public sector IT is much larger, and is driven by the commercial department instead of IT.  The solution focuses primarily on the numbers and the overall business benefit comes way down the list.  If the public sector were to consider the overall cost of government IT, including the ridiculous number of commercial managers through the life of the contract, then they would probably realise that it makes better sense to start pulling some of the IT work back in house.  It's an outsourcers dream when they look at UK PLC."

"I would differentiate private sector into: Public Suppliers and Private Suppliers first. Words that describe working in Public sector: individual islands, frustration, working for a department, shirking any accountability, fear of misinterpretation, bunker mentality, ordered, driven by job security, stove-piped hierarchy without leadership. Words to describe Public Suppliers: (same as Public sector!) because it can use the same techniques to maintain high prices, and long contracts to block competition.  Words to describe working for Private Suppliers: driven by success or competitive failure, focus on working as a project team, learn by being allowed to make mistakes, recognition by peers, growth is seen as positive instead of a further cost to the nation."

"The private sector is vastly more aggressive environment."

"The main difference I've noticed is the willingness to take decisions instead of fudging them and management and direction being committee-bound. Also, for the most part, I haven't noticed the same commercial pressures or the same time is money consciousness in the public sector. So, in many respects it's the attitude once again, but not of those on the front line, more the attitudes of those who are in management layers of B2 and above."

What IT skills are most in demand in the private sector?

"In the private sector you are actually being encouraged to make improvements rather than just talking about them or indeed using "oh dear" legislation to block improvements in the public sector."

"My recent experience of private sector tells me that web skills, agile and RAD, and architecture to platform systems over the long term enabling re-use and sharing."


What opportunities are there for public sector IT professionals in the private sector?

"I work in the public sector.  Having come over from the private sector I can't see a lot of people that would be able to make the transition the other way.  I think that the key skill that is lacking tends to be attitude.  There are a lot of very good and very clever civil servants, but they are in the minority and I can see that they are usually destined to reach the higher levels of management."

"Unfortunately I don't there are many opportunities for public sector staff, perhaps supplier management.

"For my own part (defence) it appears to be the opportunities are limited to poacher turned gamekeeper - moving to defence suppliers as either project/engineering resources or as interims. It's pretty bleak. Yet, there are still companies where you would expect defence IT professionals to gravitate to, but for some reason the skills don't appear to be transferable."

What training would you suggest IT workers that are looking to move from the public sector to the private sector take up?

"Courses in risk taking, assertiveness and simple finance to help understand profit as a driver for change."

"It depends on the level of staff and what role they currently do or would aspire to in the private sector.  I suppose things like agile methodology, web technologies, architecture skills, service management."

"TOGAF or ITIL, depending on job." Read more about TOGAF with this free dowload from Computer Weekly.

"Java, Agile, ITIL, Prince - the usual offenders."

Indian IT supplier TCS makes UK services top ten

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Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has made it into the top ten IT services suppliers in terms of UK revenue.

When I interviewed Ovum analyst  Alexander Simkin earlier about the outlook for the UK IT services sector he told me the top five suppliers in terms of revenue.

Ovum's Top 5 IT service providers to the UK and Ireland in revenues:



But interestingly an Indian supplier has broken into the top ten for the first time. Indian giant TCS is number 9.

The fact that this is the first Indian supplier to get into the top ten suggests to me that there is a lot more room for growth for these companies. Or is there?

I was with outsourcing lawyer Peter Brudenal yesterday. Brudenal, who works for Lawrence Graham says that we could soon see the big Indian IT specialists dip their hands in their deep pockets and acquire some tier two Indian BPO service suppliers. There are a lot of them about.

Serco acquired one last week. It took its Indian workforce from 4000 to 40,000 when it bought Intelenet for £385m.

How long is the Indian IT services sector's shelf life?

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I blogged earlier this week about how IT Indian companies face challenges as a result of the growing trend for outcome based outsourcing. Basically as businesses look to outsourcers to help them improve business, rather than just cut costs, they are less interested in paying for time and materials.

I then spoke to quite a few people in the industry to get their views and realised that although there is an undoubted shift towards outcome based outsourcing, views are mixed on how it will impact the Indian suppliers. 


Indian suppliers got their foot in the door of the global IT market just before 2000 when global businesses, worried about the Millennium Bug, needed lots of software resources to prepare for the worst.


As a result Indian technology companies, which had been around for years, developed relationships with global enterprises. The big attraction to big business was the availability of good software engineering skills at a fraction of the cost of home grown equivalents.

India's IT sector is still confident but recognises that it needs to change. Som Mittal, who is president of Nasscom, the body that represents Indian IT suppliers, recently told the Financial Times that he expects the Indian services sector to grow 15% to be worth $70bn this year, despite challenges.

But despite this confidence a confluence of factors could mean the Indian suppliers will face reducing profit margins. These factors include a trend towards businesses paying for services based on outcomes rather than time and materials used, wage inflation in India and a tightening up on the rules regarding work visas in the UK and US.

Mittal accepted that outcome based agreements changed the game and will force Indian suppliers to become more efficient.

Mark Lewis, head of outsourcing at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, says the honeymoon is over for the Indian global IT and outsourcing players. "They now have to face the same challenges as their other global competitors. Join the Club, as it were."

He says there is also a cost base issue for the Indian suppliers compared to in the past. "As the Indian economy has grown and continued to grow, so has GDP inflation and wage inflation, especially in the software engineering sector. So people who used to be cheaper than infrastructure are now much more expensive than they were."
Douglas Hayward, analyst at IDC, believes the Indian industry has accepted that things are changing and is adapting to it. "Indian suppliers realise now that they are moving to the end of the golden-age of time and materials and throwing people at a problem."

"They have already moved into fixed cost deals from time and materials and outcome based contracts are the next step."

Ilan Oshri, associate fellow at Warwick Business School, believes that India still has a lot of room for manoeuvre. "There are rising costs but people are shifting to different cities where costs are lower. They are not just using cities like Mumbai and Chennai but also southern India." He says his research actually shows an increasing trend for Western businesses to set up captive centres in India.

Oshri says outcome based contracts are becoming more popular but still only account for a small portion of total contracts. "Outcome based contracts are the smallest portion of contracts so it does not have a real impact at the moment." He agrees with Hayward that outcome based deals are not a major step from fixed cost agreements.

Indian companies are noting a change in buying habits. Bindi Bhullar, director at Indian supplier HCL Technologies, says in the UK there is a trend towards outcome based contracts. He says customers are becoming more sophisticated in their purchasing of IT services. "Even first time outsourcers can use outcome based contracts if they have the right advisory support."
But he adds that there is still a future for the time and materials model. "It still suits a lot of customers and when you look at the overall market there is still reletively low penetration."

Indian IT service providers face a challenge to retain their strong position in the global outsourcing sector. The last decade has seen Indian companies outgrow their competitors but have they prepared for shifts in customer buying habits, geopolitics and economic change?

How the Indian IT giants took hold of Western IT contracts

Ashok Soota, a pioneer of Indian IT services, who was president of Wipro in the 1980's told Computer Weekly last year how the Indian IT industry anchored in the West.
It is a story of missed opportunities for the Western IT giants. He said: "The suppliers in the West only started to feel threatened by us in 2000."

"Before 1994 Western IT companies were not really noticing us because we were mainframe maintenance. Then client/server came they thought we could not do it. But we were."

When the year 2000 approached the Indian companies took their opportunity. Soota said: "Then Y2K came along (millennium bug) and they thought we would go away afterwards. But Y2K gave Indian companies entry into big global companies."

"It was 2004 by the time the big Western suppliers became anxious."


Local government offshoring verdict: brave, inevitable or naïve?

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Birmingham City Council has offshored up to 100 IT jobs.  This is part of an HR and finance joint venture with Capita, known as Service Birmingham. See the full story here.

Although bits and pieces of local authority IT are already completed offshore, this is seen as the first major local government offshoring exercise. As a result it has been controversial.

I put together a questionnaire to get the opinions of readers on Birmingham's decision.

I simply asked what people thought of the decision and gave them four multiple choice options. These were: brave and pioneering; inevitable; naïve and destined to fail; or other.

So far I have had 58 respondents and the figures are as follows.

Brave and pioneering - 8
Inevitable - 15
Naïve and destined to fail - 26
Other  - 9

The other 9 answers were that Birmingham's decision is: economically illiterate; short sighted; treason; part of the UK's financial suicide; unpatriotic; insanity; financial terrorism; short sighted and opens the floodgates for the public sector; premature.

Strong feelings against Birmingham's move there. I was not surprised that the majority of respondents felt the move was naïve and destined to fail. Simply because most of the readers are UK IT workers.

But having spoken to lots of people about Birmingham City Council's decision, including people that are senior local government IT professionals, I have been surprised by the lack of outright support for Birmingham's decision. Many have their doubts.

For example a colleague of mine asked Geoff Connell, chair of Socitm London, what he thought about Birmingham City Council's decision. He said he does not think the local government offshoring floodgates will open.

"I don't think we will see much more, I'm not hearing other people talk about it at the moment. I think Birmingham is being brave to be frank. But pioneering that approach and taking a risk is great for the community because we can all watch and see what happens, and if it is successful others will follow."

Connell says he has direct experience of small scale offshoring in local government. "We have done some offshoring [in the London Borough of Newham] having moved to an Oracle ERP suite which is hosted in Houston Texas and some migration and development work from India. That had mixed results and some things didn't work so well. [In India] there's a tendency to say yes to everything sometimes they need to be able to say no. We've learnt from the experience and will use [offshoring] again but where appropriate."

Connell also said this about offshoring in local government:

"Offshoring is a tool that is appropriate to use in some circumstances but comes with a health warning as to where it is and isn't appropriate.

As a local authority you also have a role to employ local people and develop new talent. So it's not a panacea.  But having said that price point can be very low and there are times when does make sense."

I had a conversation with another senior local government IT executive who told me Birmingham's decision might be "too early."

He said he thought offshoring commodity services is fine. But he feels that until local authorities truly understand what the government wants to achieve at a macro level, in terms of data sharing, more complex services should not be offshored.

"The documents we have seen from Socitm and the Cabinet Office do not get to the heart of what the government wants to do at a Macro level. I believe Birmingham is going into this blindly."

He is referring to the fact that the government will want public sector organisations to share information but it is not clear how the information will filtered between organisations.
Here are some of the comments I have received via the survey.

A respondent that said Birmingham's move was premature said: "Local councils can achieve significant reductions via shared services and economies of scale. Politically moving jobs out of the area is difficult, unless there is a compelling offset strategy to show how further jobs will be created. Moving jobs out of the country is more difficult, especially if the councils have gone straight there, as opposed to a later resort."

Respondents that said Birmingham's decision was inevitable pretty much all said that the savings have to be made so offshoring is inevitable if service levels are to remain the same.

The respondents that said the decision was Brave and pioneering said things like:

"The right thing to do if it means cost savings which mean more and better services for council tax payers."


"About time."

"It will reduce costs without reducing services."

The respondents that said the decision was naïve and destined to fail said things like:

"Local services should be delivered by local people. Service levels will decline and the cost will rise."

"Customer satisfaction will inevitable decline - public services need local knowledge."

"If the council's IT requirements were straight-forward there would not be a need for a massive IT contract with Capita. Offshoring will not offer BCC what is requires."

"The hidden costs of offshoring, the huge amount of lost tax revenue for the government and soaring wage inflation in India makes this a very bad idea."

"Offshoring is ineffective in most cases and doesn't account for lack of business productivity due to ineffective resources and poor comms when justifying it in the first place. Cynical? Nope, experience doing it."

"Data security, residents concerns, lack of contact between IT staff and end users."

If you want to fill in the questionnaire you still can. The survey can be found in this blog post.

Has the recession revealed IT outsourcing maturity within businesses?

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I spoke to Ovum yesterday about its latest research on the IT services sector. It revealed that sales were on the increase again. See the article I wrote here.

One of the interesting things that Alexander Simkin, the Ovum analyst that covers IT services, said was that the last recession differed from previous slowdowns because IT outsourcing did not actually increase. Previous economic slowdowns forced businesses to outsource to cut costs. But not this one.

I had a conversation with Jean Louis Bravard about this. He is a director at sourcing broker Burnt-Oak Partners and has headed up EDS's financial services business globally in the past. He says it is true that the last recession didn't increase outsourcing but it is not related to the recession itself but the maturity of the businesses buying IT services.

Although the last recession was pretty unique in its severity Bravard says the reason businesses stopped buying IT services is because they no longer see it as just a cost cutting exercise but a way of generating business. Because the recession was severe business was low for everybody so there seemed little point investing in IT services until the recovery.
It is probably a mix of the severity of the recession and the desire for businesses to generate business through IT services investments.

Has the business sector really matured when it comes to buying IT services?

It will be interesting to see what kind of outsourcing contracts account for the growth. Will it be cost cutting deals that see businesses take low cost time and materials or will it be more sophisticated outcome based contracts? Or will it be a bit of both?

Real IT services spending recovery could be around the corner

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Spending on IT services will grow an average of 4.4% every year until 2015 with healthy growth returning in 2013.

That's according to the latest research from Ovum and is the result of a combination of "pent-up demand and a slowly improving economy."
Ovum said the 2011 spending growth is below pre-recession levels but there will be strong pre-recessionary growth of over 4.5% by 2013. The global IT services market will be worth $756bn by 2015.

In 2010 growth never reached 2%, said Ovum.

In terms of service line demand business process outsourcing will experience the strongest growth from 2010 to 2015, according to Ovum. This is followed by infrastructure-led outsourcing and support services. Ovum also said application outsourcing is set to see strong growth as businesses decide they can no longer put upgrades off.

Ovum has also put together a top 50 of global IT service vendors in terms of market share. IBM came top followed by HP and Fujitsu. All three had declining markets shares.

It also revealed that most of the companies that have increased market share in the last year were Indian suppliers including TCS, Infosys and Wipro. I blogged earlier about the confident stance of the man than heads up Nasscom, the industry body that represents Indian IT service providers. He believes that the Indian IT services sector will grow 15% this year to be worth $70bn, despite facing major challenges.

See a comment from outsourcing lawyer Mark Lewis of Berwin Leighton Pasner at the foot of that blog post. It suggests the honeymoon period for Indian suppliers, which has lasted over a decade, could be over.

Indian IT sector faces pay for results

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The FT ran an interesting article expressing the views of Nasscom about the post-recession period.

The statement, from Nasscom's head Som Mittal, that the Indian services sector will grow 15% to be worth $70bn this year revealed confidence that businesses are spending on IT services again.

Read the article here.

The article also has Mittal admitting that Indian suppliers have had to change since the recession. One of the key changes mentioned in the FT article is the increase in contracts where suppliers are paid in relation to results.

Bindi Bhullar, director at Indian supplier HCL Technologies says customers  are becoming more sophisticated in their purchasing of IT services and are looking for more outcome based pricing models. 

"As a result, the frequency with which executives approve major consulting deals casually during a round of golf is diminishing. Instead, several developing trends are shaping client expectations for the client-consultant relationship. These trends include more centralised purchasing, better information sharing among clients and higher skilled IT workers."

Here is a blog post I wrote last year about paying for results.

IT Outsourcing is still a green field for many businesses and plenty of room for growth

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IT outsourcing has grown into a huge industry. In the UK alone IT outsourcing accounts for over £40bn in sales in 2009. 2010 is likely to be even bigger.

IT was the biggest slice of the overall outsourcing market in the UK which had sales worth over £200bn.

Companies outsource when times are good and when times are bad in equal measure it seems.

But the maturity of IT outsourcing and its constant evolution means there are more and more opportunities. IT components that you would not have considered outsourcing two years ago might be top of you list today.

The truth is suppliers and delivery models are more mature and the legal contracts that support them have evolved.

I was talking to Plan International's acting CIO yesterday. Mark Banbury, who is normally CIO of the child welfare charity in Canada is covering for the CIO who is on maternity leave.

He told me about Plan's first ever major outsourcing project that it is about to embark on.

The organisation is replacing three separate systems, two bespoke applications and Microsoft Dynamics with SAP globally. That's in 66 countries and a total of 300 locations.

The interesting part for this blog is the fact that the charity has decided to outsource the whole thing to Siemens IT Solutions. SIS will host and support the system globally. Plan, which has no in-house IT skills, had considered recruiting SAP experts and hosting the software in its datacenter.It also considered hosting the system in its datacenter but bringing in a supplier for the skills. But after carrying out a detailed study it decided to outsource everything.

With far more functionality, 24:7 support rather than 24:5 and £200,000 a year savings it seems like a good move.

So outsourcing is still new to many, which suggests to me that there is a lot of growth to come.

Are systems integrators holding back the adoption of open source in government?

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There have been accusations that the large IT service providers are holding back the adoption of open source in the public sector.

With no license fees open source is an attractive option for cash strapped councils, NHS Trusts, police forces, central government departments etc, etc, etc.

But the take up of open source in the public sector is surprisingly low, despite government policies for public sector organisations to consider open source wherever appropriate.

Computer Weekly ran a story this week from freelance journalist Mark Ballard  about an accusation that a large systems integrator is holding back the adoption of open source in the public sector. Open source supplier Sirius Corporation has accused Computacenter of holding back the adoption of open source at Bristol Council. The story describes how it is not in Computacenter's best interest to support the adoption of open source at the council because it would make less money.

See his story here.

The government's IT strategy actually says: "Where appropriate, the government will procure open source solutions," it said. "When used in conjunction with compulsory open standards, open source presents significant opportunities for the design and delivery of interoperable solutions."

But large systems integrators, who dominate government contracts, have relationships with the proprietary suppliers such as Microsoft and their revenues depend on license sales.

The problem for public sector bodies is they have established relationships with the large systems integrators and it has become a case of you don't get fired for buying from them. Better the devil you know.

The tile of this blog post poses the question: are systems integrators holding back the adoption of open source in government?

I spoke to one of my contacts, who works in central government IT as an advisor, and he is of the opinion that open source software is given as much chance as any other software in tenders. "If there is a programme with a new requirement open source will be considered just any other product."

As Mark Ballard's story explains, many are not of the same opinion.

An example of open source being used in government is an alpha version of a website - which could replace all .gov.uk URLs - available for comment from the public. Alpha.gov.uk which is currently open to public feedback, is the result of Martha Lane Fox's review of the government's digital services offering

Please give me your views on open source in the public sector in this questionnaire.

Is local government supposed to create jobs or not?

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I seem to be blogging a lot about local government at the moment. This is because there has been a lot of reaction to Birmingham City Council's decision to offshore IT jobs.

I was reading an article that featured an interview with Birmingham City Council's Glyn Evans, who is also the president of public sector IT body, the Society of IT managers. In reaction to criticisms about sending jobs to India, Evans said that local authorities are not here to protect jobs, but services. See the interview here.

Earlier today a Computer Weekly journalist telephoned Socitm to get some comment about offshoring in local government. Socitm's London chair Geoff Connell, who is also IT head at the London Borough of Newham, was put forward for comment with Evans being on holiday. He said local authorities do have an important role in employing locals. He said: "As a local authority you also have a role to employ local people and develop new talent."

He was also very cautious about the practice of offshoring local government IT but saw Birmingham's move as being bold and one that will help other authorities make decisions in the future. See the blog post about this here.

I have also been running a survey on the blog this week to get people's views on Birmingham's decision. I have had 42 respondents so far and will soon report on the findings. In the meantime please fill in the survey below.


Birmingham City Council's offshoring move, an isolated case?

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Following the news that Birmingham City Council is offshoring some IT jobs to India there has been a lot of reaction. The majority of people I have spoken to believe there will be a lot more offshoring after the Birmingham strategy goes through.

But a colleague of mine asked Geoff Connell, chair of Socitm London, about this today. He does not think the local government offshoring floodgates will open, but rather the use of shared services will increase (see below for more from Connell on shared services).

"I don't think we will see much more, I'm not hearing other people talk about it at the moment. I think Birmingham is being brave to be frank. But pioneering that approach and taking a risk is great for the community because we can all watch and see what happens, and if it is successful others will follow.  At the moment a move to shared services to reduce spend is the way councils are going, with multiple authority working together on procurement."

Connell says he has direct experience of small scale offshoring in local government. "We have done some offshoring [in the London Borough of Newham] having moved to an Oracle ERP suite which is hosted in Houston Texas and some migration and development work from India. That had mixed results and some things didn't work so well. [In India] there's a tendency to say yes to everything sometimes they need to be able to say no. We've learnt from the experience and will use [offshoring] again but where appropriate."

Connell also said this about offshoring in local government:

"Offshoring is a tool that is appropriate to use in some circumstances but comes with a health warning as to where it is and isn't appropriate.

There are challenges such as data protection when shipping certain data offshore and problems with cultural and language differences.

You have to specify something very clearly for it to work and may need to employ a specialist  [to oversee the project].

As a local authority you also have a role to employ local people and develop new talent. So it's not a panacea.  But having said that price point can be very low and there are times when does make sense."

See Connell talking about shared services in local government here.


Geoff Connell - SOCITM 2010 from Socitm on Vimeo.


Also tell me what you think of Birmingham's decision to offshore IT jobs to India. 

Has Birmingham City council been brave or committed treason by offshoring jobs?

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I blogged at the end of last week following the news that Birmingham City Council is to send up to 100 IT jobs to India.

I asked the question: What do you think of Birmingham City Council's plan to offshore IT jobs to India?

This was multiple choice, with four options. These are:

The decision to outsource is

A - Inevitable
B - Brave and pioneering
C - Naïve and destined to fail
D - Other

So far I have had 28 respondents.

A total of 13 said it is naïve and destined to fail.
8 said it is inevitable
3 said it is brave and pioneering
1 said it is treason
1 said it is part of the UK's financial suicide programme
1 said it is the result of economic illiteracy
1 said it is short sighted

Here are some of the comments left by respondents.

"The savings have to come from somewhere."

"[This is] the right thing to do if it means cost savings which mean more and better services to the council tax payers."

"Customer satisfaction will inevitably decline - public services need local knowledge."

"If the council's IT requirements were straight-forward there would not be a need for a massive IT contract with Capita. Offshoring will not offer BCC what is requires."

"Local services should be delivered by local people. Service levels will decline and the cost will rise."

"The Council has to reduce costs and offshoring will reduce IT expenditure whilst maintaining same level of service."

"The hidden costs of offshoring, the huge amount of lost tax revenue for the government and soaring wage inflation in India makes this a very bad idea."

The survey is still open so please fill in the questionnaire below.

local government offshoring head of steam building and I think Serco knows it?

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I wrote yesterday about Birmingham City Council's controversial decision to offshore about 100 jobs including IT roles.

Birmingham City Council is seen as a pioneering local authority in terms of IT so for it to offshore work could be the green light many a local government CIO has been waiting for.

Add to that the fact that the government has committed to reducing spending and cut local council budgets and you have the perfect storm for offshoring IT in local government.

And just a few days ago outsourcing giant Serco acquired Mumbai based BPO service provider Intelenet Global Services for £385m. Serco does loads of public sector services so the acquisition which takes the size of its Indian workforce from 4,000 to 40,000 will surely mean more government processes being done in India.

Peter Brudenall, outsourcing lawyer at law firm Lawrence Graham says: "Presumably Serco knows what is around the corner in terms of the Government offshoring work."

He said the government planned cuts "[They] might lead to a transformation of the UK public service, but the difficulty will be getting the electorate 'on-side' and seeing the benefits.  It has already proven difficult for banks to convince customers of the benefits of call centres based in Bangalore.

With companies like Mahindra Satyam eager to offer shared services to local government in response to the government's call for innovation from suppliers it might not be long before local services are provided from thousands of miles away.

A lack of experience of offshoring in the public sector could make this a painful transition.

I posed a question yesterday to get the views of IT professionals about Birmingham City Council's decision. I have had quite a few response,s which I will soon post about. But please fill in the below questionnaire to add to the debate.

IT workers in local government braced for offshoring avalanche

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I wrote a story today about Birmingham City Council's plans to offshore IT jobs to India.

The council, through its partnership with Capita known as Service Birmingham, is planning to offshore up to 100 jobs.

This does not sound that big a story but it is the first local authority to offshore jobs to low cost locations.

Local government offshoring has been on the cards for a while now but the Birmingham decision could be the first of many.

So is Birmingham City Council being a brave pioneer or is it making a big mistake?

Please fill in this questionnaire and give me your views.


Who tests your software?

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There is a growing trend to outsource the testing of software to specialist suppliers, according to IDC.

And I have seen more activity myself.

There have been a few notable deals recently that have seen software testing passed to a specialist third party.

Software testing firm SQS has recently signed deals with the likes of Centrica, Specsavers, Deutsche Bank and Swiss Telco Sunrise, for example.

IDC says that specialist software testers are increasingly in demand. Jennifer Thomson, software testing researcher at IDC, says that in the past software testing has been bundled with projects and often done at the end of the software development lifecycle, but businesses are increasingly contracting independent software testers to test throughout software development.

"There is a lot more interest in standalone testing across Europe because there is a focus on quality," she said. "When we started looking at software testing about 18 months ago, it was predominantly a process that was added at the end. It was often a reaction to a business requirement rather than a sound methodology."

According to research carried out last year by software quality testing firm Cast, the average software application has more than $1m of trouble buried inside it.

With this in mind Capgemini last year integrated its software testing resources to help it compete with pure-play software testers.

It combined its Sogeti software testing business with its other testing resources. This will bolster the resources and footprint of the Sogeti business and help Capgemini compete with large software testing specialists.

Please fill in this questionnaire.


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