Consumerisation of ICT, with widespread take-up of smartphones and tablets increasing familiarity with, and comfort in, technology is the main driver of change in public sector ICT departments, according to an authoritative annual snapshot of the sector.
IT Trends 2013/14 published today by Socitm, the professional association for IT leaders in local public services, says economic pressures, societal changes and technological advances are combining to put huge pressure on
local public service managers to reconfigure what they offer to their organisations and to do so at lower cost.
Against this background, service managers need modernised services that will run at much lower cost. "The ICT function will have a smaller estate to run, but one that calls on cloud services to meet cyclical peaks and troughs of demand," the report says. "To do this effectively, ICT managers and their services will need to call on a broader range of skills than in the past."
As in previous years, Socitm¹s IT Trends 2013/14 is compiled from a number of information sources, but principally a detailed questionnaire sent to heads of IT in local authorities and other local public services during last year.
The survey findings indicate that cost reduction and technology refresh are seen by ICT managers as the most pressing issues they face, with the wider modernisation agenda, and topics where ICT might play an enabling or
supportive role, featuring much lower down the scale.
Organisations appear weak on the proactive aspects of ICT staff skill and career development, leaving this to employees. Consequently, they may be vulnerable to skills gaps as the economy recovers, the report says.
Web content management, geographic information systems (GIS) and data analytics top the list of emerging technologies to exploit. Almost 100% of respondents were planning to deploy web content management in the current year, underlining the use of digital channels to reduce the cost of transactions.
However the report finds it "somewhat surprising" that 11% of respondents either have no plans, or are still planning, to use GIS technology. This is based on the fact that over 90% of public sector data has a geographic
component, as well as the technology¹s potential in service delivery planning, where overlays can be used to match demand with resources.
The report also looks at IT trends in local public services from a supplier perspective. Socitm Premium Partners were provided with the preliminary results from the survey, and the report features commentary from three of
them, ATOS, BT and CSC.
Key messages are that austerity is hurting suppliers, with shorter contracts, and clients trying to transfer more risk to them. Bid teams are now having to make significant cases for tendering at all. For their part, suppliers express disappointment that ICT managers are not taking a stronger leadership role in modernising services, and say that contracts do not allow sufficient scope and flexibility to enable innovation. "In short, public
sector ICT business has become less attractive to suppliers," the report concludes.
Author Chris Head said that ICT functions and their managers are experiencing a new sort of pressure from their customers: "Service managers, who can now download apps in a few seconds that cost next to nothing from a
cloud store, and are productive with them immediately, question why a new application to streamline their business will take months, and require employees to attend a training session before using it."
IT Trends 2013/14 is available as a report only £495), or in a package with data (£595).