This material is aimed at helping the public sector face up to the major management challenges in handling the severe financial pressures now placed upon it. It is available to Socitm Insight subscribers only.
Briefings from 2013
| Issue 52
|Shared ICT services: more than meets the eye?
|Sharing services ranks high on the agenda of possible responses to austerity, and many partnerships have emerged since we last looked at this topic two years ago. However, not all prospective partnerships get as far as implementation. Some end before delivering the anticipated benefits. For others that are now operating the path to implementation can be long with hurdles on the way. We are now gathering critical learning points from practical experience.
| Issue 51
|Flexible working: going into reverse?
|'To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side.' Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer came in for press criticism when the company-wide 'proprietary and confidential' email announcing an end to home working found its way on to the Internet. Virgin boss, Sir Richard Branson, was quick to condemn the idea, blogging that 'Working life isn't 9-5 anymore. The world is connected. Companies that do not embrace this are missing a trick.' In the public sector, 97% of employers offer three or more types of flexible working arrangement. Every carer has the legal right to ask their employer for flexible working arrangements. So who is right?
| Issue 50
|Benchmarking: Can you afford not to?
|'What gets measured gets managed' is sound advice, but not always followed. Without basic information about costs, resource usage, performance and outputs, managers are effectively trying to steer a rudderless ship. They cannot monitor trends, and assess the value of changes. This is not a good position to be in when the pressure is on for public services reform, budget cuts and realising the potential of the digital agenda. Plotting and successfully traversing a course forward requires knowing both where you are now as well as where you want to get to.
| Issue 49
|Digital leader?: it might (not) be you!|
|Traditionally, we herald each new year with new resolutions: go to the gym more, start a post-festive season diet, and drink less. All are changes of behaviour driven with the best of intentions, but rarely maintained. 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but heaven is full of good works' says the old adage. Wise words indeed, as we ponder the resolutions that a head of ICT might make against the backdrop of the Government Digital Strategy|
Briefings from 2012
| Issue 48
| Smart cities: how are they really different?
|'Smart cities' is another fashionable term, but means different things to different people. For the EU, it refers to the application of technology to improve transport. The UK's £24m initiative talks about integrating infrastructure with communication networks. Individual cities, such as Birmingham, are investing in affordable broadband to reinvigorate local economies. All are laudable aims. But what does this mean in practice?
| Issue 47
| The new Government Digital Strategy: what should local public services take from it?
| Last autumn the Government Digital Service (GDS) was established. Last month it launched the new GOV.UK, replacing Directgov. This month it has produced a Government Digital Strategy that sets out how the Government will become digital by default. The strategy is focused on central government. What can those in local public services learn from it?
| Issue 46
| Bring your own device: keeping people happy and saving money?
| Employee satisfaction with the technology that they use at work is low and declining according to our benchmarking studies. Many do not want two devices: one for personal and one for business use. ICT managers fret over the cost of desktop refresh amidst austerity (early finding from IT Trends 2012/13). 'Bring your own device' (BYOD) has appeared on the ICT agenda with astonishing speed. Could it provide the answer to all three issues?
| Issue 45
|| September 2012
| 4G mobile telephony: coming to a town near you?
| This month saw an important milestone for ICT. 4G mobile telephony, offering download speeds an order of magnitude faster than 3G, will arrive in some parts of the country within weeks, certainly before Christmas. That is far earlier than the anticipated auction of the necessary spectrum this winter with contracts awarded in 2013. However, its impact will depend again on where you work and live.
| Issue 44
|| August 2012
|Channel shift: grasping the opportunity|
|In July the Government Digital Service (GDS) received a report, commissioned from Socitm, into the potential for channel shift in local government in England. The report acts as a very timely reminder for understanding the business case for 'digital by default', a strategy intended to lead to 80% or more of government services being delivered online. How should local authorities and other public services approach this task?|
| Issue 43
|| July 2012
|Agile: a methodology for our time?|
|The focus of public sector austerity is inevitably budget cuts, but what can the ICT community do to ensure the best use of resources that survive the cutbacks? Central government realises that ICT project failures cannot be allowed to continue and that the agile methodology has a major part to play. How is the local public sector responding to the same opportunity?|
| Issue 42
|| June 2012
|ICT strategy - wiring into your chief executive's objectives|
|"Why aren't we using the cloud?" is a question that many chief executives (CEO) will have asked their head of technology. We know of the disconnect between many CEOs' ideas and the strategy pursued by the technology function.|
| Issue 41
|| May 2012
|Innovation with ICT: easier said than done?|
|The media is full of advice to managers about how they should address the challenges that the current business environment presents. Mostly, these centre upon innovation in service delivery enabled by ICT. Although we are adept at engineering solutions to defined problems, the ICT profession does not find it quite so easy to meet the challenge, when faced with a blank canvas and a request to use our imaginations. We examine why|
| Issue 40
|| April 2012
|Shared services: time for a re-think?|
|The message is stark, the costs astronomical and the failure spectacular. The latest NAO report into shared services in central government has some dire warnings. How relevant are the lessons for the local public sector?|
| Issue 39
|| March 2012
|Information on the move: entering a new era for government|
|The take-up and usage of smartphones demand attention from web managers at organisations that serve the community. The commercial world is setting the pace, increasing community expectations of the public and voluntary sectors. These organisations need to invest in mobile access to online information and services in order to reap the financial rewards of channel shift by addressing this changing profile of customer behaviour. Does your organisation monitor access to its website from mobile devices and develop it appropriately?|
| Issue 38
|| February 2012
|Social media goes mainstream - but the right way?|
|Our research shows that social media has been incorporated into the activity of almost all councils, with blanket bans on access being replaced by more considered approaches. But, as social media goes mainstream, is there a danger that its game-changing potential might be lost?|
| Issue 37
|| January 2012
|Rural broadband: superfast or superslow?|
"Fast broadband is absolutely vital to our economic growth, to delivering public services effectively, and to conducting our everyday lives. But some areas of the UK are missing out, with many rural and hard-to-reach communities suffering painfully slow internet connections or no coverage at all. We are not prepared to let some parts of our country get left behind in the digital age."
Culture Secretary (England) Jeremy Hunt
Briefings from 2011
| Issue 36
|| December 2011
|Strategic commissioning: an answer to austerity?|
|References to 'strategic commissioning' in the media are increasing rapidly. Is this the answer to preserving reasonable service levels through a decade of public sector austerity? Many seem convinced of the case, but opinions of what 'strategic commissioning' is, and how to go about it, vary markedly.|
| Issue 35
|| November 2011
|Next generation users: keeping abreast of trends in online use|
|The Oxford Internet Institute has just published its fifth biennial Oxford Internet Survey (OxIS) into internet use in Britain. This latest piece of research identifies one major new shift in the way in which users access the internet with the arrival of 'next generation users'. It also highlights a number of other developments about internet use, which all local public service decision-makers should understand in assessing how people access and use their services.|
| Issue 34
|| October 2011
|Career crossroads - CIO or CTO?: essential reading for all ICT managers|
|We find senior ICT managers standing at a career crossroad, unsure about the direction to take. So much that they read tells them that their job is changing radically. Pundits implore them to focus on persuading service managers of the transformational potential of ICT, and then helping them to restructure their service delivery by exploiting their information assets with appropriate technology. However, their experience and instincts tell them that their job is to provide 99.95% service availability, and to safeguard diligently the security of the organisation's information.|
| Issue 33
|| September 2011
|Ten questions every chief executive should ask their CIO|
|Set out here are ten critical questions that every chief executive should ask their CIO / Head of IT about how ICT can meet increasing demands for service, unlock the value in your organisation's information and reduce resource requirements.|
| Issue 32
|| August 2011
|Digital by default (Part 2): encouraging take-up of the online offering|
|The first of our two briefings on 'Digital by default', (July 2011) focused on the need to get the supply side right by optimising the online customer experience. This Briefing focuses on the demand side. Encouraging take-up of the online offering has, in turn, two aspects: ensuring that people have access to public services online and persuading people to use them.|
| Issue 31
|| July 2011
|Digital by default (Part 1): improving the online customer experience|
|'Digital by default' is public policy and a key response to the need for austerity. More and more service users expect it, but it requires two conditions for a successful implementation. First: get the supply side right. In other words, optimise the online customer experience. Second: tackle the demand side - promote and encourage the use of the online offering. This Briefing focuses on the first part of the equation. Next month's edition will tackle the second.|
| Issue 30
|| June 2011
|A new era of ICT services: retaining the skills|
|If it is not outsourcing, then it is off-shoring or cloud computing. Every pundit has an answer to tackling the gap between increasing expectations of what the ICT service can do and declining resources as austerity bites. However, what dangers might these approaches present for individuals, their organisations and for the wider economy? Not for the first time ICT skills shortages are predicted, but is this really the case? If so, what types of skills? What are the essential skills that the business requires?|
| Issue 29
|| May 2011
|Sharing information: back to basics|
|Current hot topics, such as partnership working, collaboration, localism, transparency and the 'Big Society' (however ill-defined), all imply information sharing. Little wonder that CIOs are thinking about data interchange standards, security and authentication, and secure channels such as the public service network. However, some things are much more important than the technology.|
| Issue 28
|| April 2011
|Costs of outsourcing - uncovering the real risks|
|Socitm's appearance before the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) on 22 March brought it out into the open. Outsourcing the ICT service might have many hidden costs. Not for the first time our benchmarking service reports that in 2010 the cost of ICT in councils that have outsourced is higher than where they have not. What are the real risks in making the wrong decisions?|
| Issue 27
|| March 2011
|Better websites: sharing content, applications and resources|
|One impact of the budgetary crisis is that more and more organisations are realising the importance of self-service. Another impact is that most now see shared services as a solution to reducing costs. However, very few seem to put the two together. With Better connected 2011 reporting only a very modest improvement is there not an opportunity now to share much more in supporting websites?|
| Issue 26
|| February 2011
|Transparency: seeing it through|
It started with MPs' expenses, then the new Coalition Government asked councils in England to publish online all £500-plus transactions. On a global scale we had Wikileaks, and latterly one can argue that the revolution in Egypt has been driven by the transparency of the internet.
What does transparent government mean at the local level?
| Issue 25
|| January 2011
|Value from radical transformation: grasping the nettle|
As a result of the severe financial cutbacks prompted by the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) major transformation in the way that they deliver services.Yet the track record of such ambitious programmes in the public sector is poor as organisations struggle with issues of leadership, capacity and methodology. Here is one approach that is working.
Briefings from 2010
| Issue 24
|| December 2010
|Heading into the cloud|
|Adoption of cloud computing makes complete sense - for user organisations, at least - and most of us already use the cloud on a daily basis as private citizens. What are the obstacles to public sector take-up, and how can they be overcome?|
| Issue 23
|| October 2010
|Managing major change - responding to austerity|
|The Comprehensive Spending Review on 20 October heralds major reductions in block grants from central government, compounding the problems of frozen council tax and salaries, demographic pressures and potentially spiralling energy costs. How to cope? Many local public services are tackling radical programmes of change, but how well are they managing that task?|
| Issue 22
|| September 2010
|Customer access strategy: overcoming two potential barriers|
|Most now realise the importance of self-service, some accept the case for a customer access strategy to help make it happen, but how many are really dealing with the two barriers that might stop shifting customers to cheaper channels?|
| Issue 21
|| August 2010
|Digital inclusion: the literate, the excluded and the disinterested|
|The public sector has invested billions in technology. Our Better connected reports call repeatedly for 'channel shift', moving citizen interactions to cheaper, electronic channels. Yet, according to Race Online, over one fifth of the UK population has never used the internet. How to include them?|
| Issue 20
|| July 2010
|Open data and transparency: no turning back|
|The coalition government believes transparency will reduce public sector expenditure and expose waste. Publishing public data is not new. The EU envisaged a digital economy built by re-using public sector data, and the previous government's Power of Information report championed open data. Through access to data on the web, citizens are seizing control. How should managers respond?|
| Issue 19
|| June 2010
|Customer insight: redesigning services around customer needs|
|Long-term demographics and government plans to slash the deficit demand a drastic realignment of local public services. Doing the same things, only more cheaply, is no longer an option. It is time for a complete redesign of services - enabled by technology, but driven by a better understanding of what customers want.|
| Issue 18
|| May 2010
|Post-election: the shape of things to come|
This issue considers the shape of things to come from the policies of the new Coalition Government.
We are promised a very different approach to public services and the relationship between state and individual, but will be grappling with a huge budget deficit. What are the implications for the effective use of information and technology in delivering public services? How grim are the prospects, or realistic the opportunity to do things better and save costs?
| Issue 17
|| April 2010
|ICT-enabled service transformation: realising the benefits|
In this issue we look at the importance of realising the benefits from ICT-enabled service transformation in the current financial climate.
Saving substantial sums of money must be at the forefront of every public sector manager's thinking, and ICT is the enabler for almost every solution from customer self-service and shared services to flexible working and radical service redesign. The promise is there, but how to guarantee the benefits?
| Issue 16
|| March 2010
|Tomorrow's public services - are you prepared to lead and manage ICT?|
In this issue we look at the issues of Managing ICT tomorrow
and asks heads of ICT and colleagues about how well prepared they are.
Economics, slashed budgets, green initiatives, new computing and service delivery models, and increasing expectations of what ICT can do to reshape service delivery will all add to a packed agenda. How to cope?
| Issue 15
|| February 2010
|G-Cloud and G-AS - utility computing|
In this issue we look at the G-Cloud and G-AS as two major
planks of policy in the Government's latest ICT strategy.
Our January briefing last year, Cloud computing on the horizon, stated 'there is no doubt that that the cloud is here to stay'. Some may have doubted us. Now the cloud (G-Cloud) is the backbone of the government's ICT strategy, being a 'key enabler of £3.2 billion savings'.
| Issue 14
|| January 2010
|Future public services: squaring the circle|
In this issue we look at future public services and how they will depend on information and ICT-enabled change.
We have no need to remind readers of the problem, but there are opportunities to make dramatic savings in public service running costs - as much as 30% for some organisations. Most are aware of the potential, but find it difficult to achieve. Socitm's experience of the current service delivery models provides a prescription for savings - 'the Council of the Future'.
Briefings from 2009
| Issue 13
|| November 2009
|Business continuity: putting information at the heart of the plan|
In this issue we examine the role of information at the heart of business continuity planning.
Managing and assuring information is becoming an increasingly critical part of business continuity. Does the Council of the Future focus our planning not so much on the protection of the physical asset as the protection of the information asset?
| Issue 12
|| September 2009
|ICT strategy: doing the right things|
In this issue we focus on ICT strategy as a way of doing the right things.
Austerity looms, forcing public sector organisations to examine how they deliver their services. Two things will be critical to enabling them to deliver more from less - having the right ICT systems in place, and having well managed information, held electronically
| Issue 11
|| August 2009
|People and professionalism: getting fit for a different purpose|
|In this issue we focus on People and professionalism: getting fit for a different purpose. Financial pressures are forcing public sector transformation. The question for ICT managers is 'How well equipped are your employees for supporting this?' Adding to the challenge, the economy might just start to recover as the public sector faces the real squeeze!|
| Issue 10
|| July 2009
|Green ICT: time is running out|
In this issue we examine how Green ICT can help you cut your costs and save the planet
Across the world CO2 emissions are triggering extremes of weather. Globally, ICT is responsible for 2% of CO2 released. In the public sector, ICT accounts for almost 35% of energy consumption. The impact of enacted legislation is imminent. The time to act is now!
| Issue 9
|| June 2009
|Information management: your critical asset|
Information is the single most important asset for any public sector body. But how well is this recognised by senior decision-makers? It certainly is when a child protection register has critical information that is out of date.It certainly will be when it comes to managing the draconian reductions in public expenditure that demand radical service re-design and customer self-service. How should this valuable asset be managed?
| Issue 8
|| May 2009
|Self-service: working right, first time, every time|
|The 22 April Budget statement and supporting Operational Efficiency Programme report make it clear that all public sector organisations must commit to self-service where feasible. However, that must be backed up by a commitment to ensure that websites do not create avoidable contact elsewhere.|
| Special briefing
|| May 2009
|How Socitm Insight can help you survive the crunch|
|How can Socitm Insight help you survive the crunch? We already have much relevant material to help you, and plan to produce more this year.|
| Issue 7
|| April 2009
|Shared services - time for action|
|1st April 2009 was an important landmark in UK local government. In yet another reorganisation, nine new unitary councils replaced 44 English two-tier authorities in seven county areas. Looked at from another perspective, it also means shared services imposed by legislative diktat.|
| Issue 6
|| March 2009
|Lean thinking: embedding the change|
|The outlook for local government budgets looks very grim, but demand for services just keeps on growing. Lean thinking provides an excellent answer: it is a comprehensive approach that will deliver savings for years to come. However, it is not a trivial undertaking.|
| Issue 5
|| February 2009
|Mobile and flexible working: key to big savings|
|This briefing looks at mobile and flexible working - the key to big savings. Most councils claim to use flexible and mobile working, but few are achieving all the benefits.|
| Issue 4
|| January 2009
|Cloud computing on the horizon|
|This briefing looks at 'the cloud' - the use of web resources to provide facilities and services hosted elsewhere on the internet. When public services are under threatening clouds of financial pressure, is this a solution that will allow us to achieve more with less?|
| Issue 3
|| October 2008
|Commodity and consumer computing|
|This month we ask whether computing is becoming a commodity, or even a consumer good, and what this means for the public sector. Subscribers can download the report to read on...|
| Issue 2
|| August 2008
|Service oriented architecture and software as a service|
|This report looks at the trend to use web technology in almost every new development, or to integrate all new facilities into the web. Subscribers can download the report to read on...|
| Issue 1
|| July 2008
|We can all imagine a future of pervasive connectivity on the move, and technology continuing to change our lives both at work and elsewhere. However, there are serious limitations with current facilities. How will these be overcome? Subscribers can download the report to read on....|