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A quiet revolution


Themes: Information systems and technology

Quiet revolution - ITThe government’s out-of-date use of IT is poised to enter a new age with changes in service design and procurement

The way government uses IT is poised to enter a new age with changes in service design and major savings through a totally different approach to procurement.

That’s the prediction of Dr Mark Thompson, Lecturer in Information Systems at Cambridge Judge Business School and co-author of the paper “Why Government IT Should Never Be the Same Again”.

He points to a quiet revolution in that IT is capable of wrapping traditional, vertically integrated business logic into common standards that effectively creates an open-source dynamic.

The ability to ‘chop’ individual pieces of business logic into swappable cassettes Dr Thompson describes as ‘absolutely revolutionary’.

“If I can ‘chop up’ an HR function or a finance function and, rather than outsource the whole lot, I can distinguish between the utility and commodity elements of that function – the regular process parts from the riskier parts – this has enormous commercial implications not only for government but also in large process heavy organisations.”

He says that over the past 10 to 15 years outsourcing became de rigueur for government departments and agencies, who were farming out entire functions to large companies.

The aim of outsourcing is to aggregate demand around which suppliers cluster. Government effectively aggregated supply, to the extent that 80 per cent of the £21 billion IT spend in the UK went to between 12 and 15 suppliers.

“Government was therefore forced to cluster around individual suppliers rather than the other way round. If you were Oracle or SAP or any other proprietary technology you adjusted your core processes round the supplier’s technology rather than the other way round. What we are about to see is a complete inversion of that model.”