Rapid technology change, austerity, and changes in public services are causing disruption for the ICT function. Demands upon it are increasing as public service managers must operate services at dramatically lower cost – up to 50% less – for the rest of the decade.
In its new report Business information services: the future ICT function?, Socitm recommends that ICT leaders should respond by taking action now to start transforming their function into a ‘business information service’.
The report describes how cloud services, mobile usage, commoditisation and big data analytics are driving disruptive change. Public service managers want to use information and technology to reduce operational costs, while preserving as much of their front-line services as possible.
Tech-savvy service users are ever more demanding, while rapidly increasing mobile use is tending to shift control away from traditional ICT functions.
By becoming business information services, ICT functions can embrace these challenges by actively promoting the opportunities that information assets and new technologies offer to modernise public services and save money while improving the customer experience.
This will involve selling the ‘digital’ concept to top management and promoting ICT capability rather than adopting the reactive approach of running the ICT estate purely as a facilities management operation, where ICT waits for the business to ask for new systems.
The report suggests that ICT functions should prepare for transforming themselves into business information services by tackling five critical tasks:
Embrace agile development and a modular approach based on shared data architectures to secure quick wins that deliver savings and benefit customers
- Focus on information governance and management, working with services to increase awareness of the extent and potential value of information assets
- Adopt strategic sourcing, considering all potential sources of supply including nimble cloud services, not-for-profit, crowdsourcing and education as a source of innovation as well as capacity
- Develop and publicise a vision of the future business information service that aligns everyone’s efforts to deliver it
- Develop proactive HR policy and practice for the ICT team.
“The information age has seen data processing and mainframes give way to information technology and PCs, and now we’re seeing consumer devices herald another phase,” says report author Chris Head. “What we are aiming to show is how ICT functions can survive the disruptive impact and respond to austerity by exploiting information assets and modernising services.”