Computer Weekly readers' give their views on the week's news
Off-the-shelf systems won't run by themselves
With regard to your article "So what's your survival plan for IT?", my former workplace has had an IT department for over 25 years.
Just recently it was again downsized, with five redundancies: the IS director, business systems manager and three Java programmers.
The support staff are still there but now there is a only skeleton team for legacy tweaks and fixes.
The company is now heading towards off-the-shelf solutions and a new management structure. In terms of cost and management, this appears to be the way boards wish to keep pace in competitive markets at a fixed price.
However, I hope that the legacy staff and their bespoke ways of working are ready to move into line and work within a global business model not really designed for their market sector.
Implementation seems to be the biggest bottleneck for any software development. I do not think they have grasped that yet.
Analysts don't hold all the answers for IT's future
Paul Carter Hemlin poses an important question about the future value of IT departments in "So what's your survival plan for IT?". But he is in danger of assuming that one source, in his case Gartner, has all the answers.
The strength of firms such as Gartner is in analysing IT market trends and giving their perspective on what these mean for the strategies of the users and suppliers of IT.
They are not necessarily the best - and certainly not the only - source of innovative thinking about what those strategies should be.
CIOs and IT departments are reinventing themselves using different models from the three Carter Hemlin has concentrated on, and in ways that are proving highly valuable to their colleagues. They do not seem to be on Gartner's radar.
In particular, Carter Hemlin should be cautious about repeating the flawed assumption that the future role of IT people is limited to being an agent, service provider or broker. There are much more valuable roles they can play as an integral part of the business, and in some cases they already do.
Chris Potts, director, Dominic Barrow
Net neutrality is vital for creativity and innovation
Vint Cerf is right to defend the importance of net neutrality against proposed changes to US law (Computer Weekly, 28 November).
The internet has challenged the traditional media model, where power and control lie in the hands of the few. The cost of creating a website is a fraction of that of, say, launching a newspaper, and the web has unleashed a wave of creativity and innovation.
The move by network owners to tax companies for premium rate services would put an end to this. The inventiveness and imagination that has been allowed to flourish on the internet would be capped.
Internet start-ups with limited funds have created a new wave of engaging, interactive and valuable technologies that have had huge benefits to both businesses and consumers. Yet the proposals going through the US at the moment would create an anti-competitive market where entrepreneurial spirit would be crushed.
The irony in all this is that most of the really successful start-ups are from the US, yet it is the US network providers leading the call to introduce these stifling charges.
By introducing premiums, network operators are restricting the resourcefulness that has allowed the internet to evolve.
These proposals would place the web in the hands of established Goliaths, who have historically shown themselves to lack innovation and fleetness of foot, rather than the Davids required to drive the online world forward.
Simon Conroy, Madgex
Shared services must be handled with care
Socitm's report on how councils are using shared services is a welcome step forward (Computer Weekly, 28 November).
Shared services can be part of the answer to improving government efficiency and technology-enabled public services, but only if the process is structured properly.
One thing that should never be overlooked is the importance of watertight contracts tailored to the circumstances.
Even if it's an in-house shared service within a single local authority, careful contractual agreements and SLAs should be designed to ensure each party knows what is expected of them and that if they fail to make the grade appropriate action can be taken.
This safety net is essential in any shared services situation but especially in the public sector.
Paul Bentham, Addleshaw Goddard
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