January 2011 Archives
This afternoon I was at a meeting discussing why it appears almost impossible to follow good practice when it comes to flagship public sector IT systems. I agreed to "blog" my article for "Transformation", the magazine of the National School of Government, Spring 2008. By the end of the discussion we found several more reasons why it is so much easier to follow bad practice. However I will stick to what I what I wrote and blog on those later.
Ministers are seeking to create a new world of open and transparent government at the same time as negotiating discounts on current contracts with their leading suppliers. This is not as impossible as it seems because many of those contracts are also unprofitable. They benefited only the lawyers and consultants retained by both sides to negotiate them and sales teams rewarded for "booked revenue" as opposed to "realised profit". The task is to turn them into evolutionary frameworks that enable suppliers to generate more profit for their shareholders at the same time as slashing the cost to the public sector by doing things differently, not just squeezing subcontractors. The carrot of using "Alternative Disputes Resolution" processes to agree win-win solutions is far more likely to reduce costs short term and improve service long term than the stick of holding suppliers to their legal obligations until they sue for peace - as was done with the suppliers to the National for IT in the Health Service. So what could be achieved? .
We see growing efforts to drive customers on-line by withdrawing physical contact rather than entice them with services that meet their needs. Many banks appear happy to lose the accounts of those who cannot use a screen and keyboard or call centre (physical disability etc), lack reliable on-line connections or (as with most clubs and charities) require the signature of more than one trustee. But the over 55s control over 80% of the disposable net wealth of the UK. Meanwhile charity and club trustees tend to be more politically active and have rather higher personal net worth than the average. The consequences of listening to the digerati can be very expensive.
When I tried to post my New Year message I could not get on-line to do so. I also realised that I had received surprisingly little e-mail, not even spam, since Christmas Eve - (apart from two comminities of obessives). This morning the in-tray is filling fast.
Does that mean that most servers (including those of the malware communities) collapse into alcoholic stupor alongside their support staff and were not rebooted until this morning?
What does that say for a world that is supposedly reliant on the Internet?
Happy New Year.
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