Michael CrossEditorThursday 19 January 2012

Bring your own goes mainstream in local government IT

Attitudes to BYO technology in local government have gone from 'over my dead body' to overwhelming support in three years, according to the authors of an authoritative annual survey.

Responses to the latest Socitm IT Trends survey found that 90% of organisations allow employees to use their own devices for business purposes, including 30% who allow the use of smartphones. Three years ago the idea was 'fiercely resisted' by the IT community, the report says.

As Socitm's survey is based on data collected in June last year, the current percentage may be even higher, sources suggest. One reason for the new enthusiasm for bring-your-own technology may be the age of the installed base of council-owned hardware - now an average of seven years.

Central government is watching the development with interest. Jo Clift of the Cabinet Office's efficiency and reform group said she had been surprised by the finding. "This was an area that was unexpected, and one we would look to develop in central government," she told a launch event in London.

As expected, the survey finds IT departments under severe pressure from falling budgets. The number of people employed in local government IT has fallen by 5,000 to 22,000. This is the largest change in 25 years of conducting the survey and is "impacting service standards", John Serle, editor of IT Trends said.

For the first time ever, the survey shows rates of customer satisfaction dropping. Meanwhile, the skills shortage has returned as a topic of concern for the first time in several years, probably because of the ongoing pay freeze.

The current climate does not seem conducive to innovation, Serle said, which could be bad news for central government's plans to encourage new IT service models. "Cloud, G-Cloud and utility computing are still regarded as too immature," Serle said.

IT Trends is available for £495, or £295 for subscribers to the Socitm Insight service.