CIOs call on government to be more ambitious with IT

A poll of 100 public sector CIOs and IT directors reveals 43% believe the current government IT strategy is not ambitious enough.

Public sector CIOs have called on the next government to be more ambitious on technology.

An opinion poll of 100 CIOs and IT directors revealed 43% believe the current government IT strategy is not ambitious enough. It also showed 71% say they need the government to be more ambitious for them to be able to meet their own organisational goals.

The poll, by business software provider SAP, heard CIOs saying the change they most want to see is to receive more strategic guidance from the government on how they can better align IT goals with organisational needs.

They want more advice on how to use technology to connect with increasingly tech-savvy citizens, and they believe that a key priority in the short term should be simplifying and reducing complexity between different networks and applications. In the longer term, there is also evidence of a certain level of cynicism over recently announced plans for a government application store, with 44% strongly agreeing that the store is a long way off.

Respondents said tighter IT budgets are causing problems, with 45% citing lack of human and technology resources as their biggest obstacle to achieving progress. But 38% still said they believe it is possible to be more innovative with less money.

Only a few IT projects are being put on hold for the General Election, with 15% of CIOs saying they would postpone work. And while most are open to the idea of new technologies if they meet business needs, only 19% and 17% saw cloud computing and crowdsourcing as important to their organisation at the moment.

The survey also revealed a higher level of pessimism among central government CIOs compared to local government IT leaders.

While 60% of central government CIOs said the government needs to be more ambitious, only 38% of local government respondents agree. And 30% more central government CIOs said IT is now "seen as the problem rather than part of the solution", while 19% more central government than local government CIOs said a key obstacle to IT progress was an inability to plan because of a possible change in government.

Simon Godfrey, director of business development and government relations at SAP UK and Ireland, said, "Many CIOs are finding themselves in a Catch 22 situation; they are faced with an increasingly demanding and tech-savvy public but at the same time have decreasing IT resources and investment. The challenge is working out how they can achieve more with less.

"The message to the incoming government is loud and clear: IT needs to be closer aligned to organisational needs. There needs to be more guidance on how to do more with less and a faster move to simplified and shared services that reduce complexity and drive efficiencies for the public."

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