At the UCISA Management Conference at the moment at Celtic Manor. Very nice venue in Newport, built by Sir Terry Matthews, billionaire, and founder of MiTel. Hopefully will blog a number of sessions, but they will probably be in note form.
Conference starts with everyone standing for a minute's silence for Amber Miro, a good friend and colleague and member of the Executive Committee who very sadly died last week. She will be missed very much.
The opening session was from Gwyn Thomas, Chief Information Officer for Wales, working for the Welsh Assembly. His title was from Technology to Information. He's working on a strategy of critical mass, not consensus. Its important to first build the social architecture on which the technology architecture will rest.
Main drivers for his public sector ICT initiative are politics of devolution, (collaboration and cooperation) and the economy, a time of austerity. In technology terms, we're in a time of rapid change and consumerisation and consumer expectations are rising. IT can be seen as either enabling, or a cost and a burden.
Obviously, as we're in Wales he then used the Welsh Rugby team as a metaphor for what they're trying to do|
Coming together of team spirit:
Needs a strong policy and direction from government. Digital Wales is the overarching policy bringing everything together.
Are National ICT strategies eg Informing Healthcare and Public ICT strategy. Technical strategies are critical to getting themselves organised collectively. Policies are written collectively and are used to engage with people. They hold events at which the audience can moan, criticise them etc, but they have to improve the policy.
They have the CIO Council for Wales at which all public sector groups are represented eg Local Authorities, Universities, Healthcare. The Group owns the policy and strategy but not the implementation. CIO delivery group does that. This separation works.
Then they have the Public Sector Design Authority who are the National Technical experts.
Facing up to adversity
Trouble with adversity is there's a lot of it about:
Improvements in public services are critical on ICT
But level of investment in public sector has gone down.
No collective understanding of spend.
Many hundreds of local systems.
Difficult to share information across sectors.
Some good people, but low critical mass of critical skills.
Some national infrastructure.
Some local pockets of excellence and innovation.
Different principles have been agreed for national, regional and local implementations:
In common by design. Eg broadband network
In common by agreement Eg data centre rationalisation
Locally by agreement. Eg new ideas
Early success is Public sector broadband aggregation.
Now looking at global solutions and implementations and engaging with private sector. They've had a number of half day design sessions with likes of Apple, Google, BT, CISCO, Microsoft etc. Some things learned from them:
Joining up of the public sector in the way Wales are trying to do it seems to be unique.
Private sector sees investment in ICT as a way to cut costs.
Theres not much capital around so the tend is to move to , pay as you go charges, revenue based funding.
Pace of technological change is going to get even faster
That have some of the answers, but not all
Desktops are dead
Mobile devices are exploding
We are moving away from the institution to person based services.
Some issues around pace of change, and difficulties of doing anything nationally:
In less time than it's taken Wales to get 70k people on a common national email system, Google reached 100,000,000 on Gmail.
When they looked for data centre rationalisation, local organisations were building them faster than they could count them nationally.
Their strategy is service transformation through innovation and empowerment; engagement and move to self service; technology as an enabler of change; locally realised benefits.
They are changing their ICT investment portfolio to have more high risk and high potential return projects.
The ICT "invest to save" iceberg. Sometimes quoted that if costs £7 to do a service face to face, it will cost £2 if done through a phone app, and 32p if on the web. But, all that infrastructure underneath, costs.
Typically the public sector spends 3% of its budget on IT. Spending 3% to help the other 97% work more efficicnetly would seem to be good value for money.
Moving to public cloud would reduce public sector costs, but they have an issue with security. General view that everything needs to be "military strength" secure. This needs challenging.
Networks, devices and applications are moving into the cloud and this will continue. The ICT department of the future will be different to now. There will be little infrastructure to manage. There will be specialist application development. Technical governance and design will be important. Collaborative ways of working will be critical.
We are moving from systems to services.
And from ICT to support organisations, to ICT to support people.
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