Choosing the right solution for the right capability. Although standardisation undoubtedly brings benefits, easier interoperability of cloud systems means that, ultimately, the council can afford to have 3 different systems delivering the same capability to different user groups.
Example: in a borough council, the desktop productivity solution could be Google for 800 or so users, with about 600 on Microsoft (most of these will be on the cloud hosted version (Office 365, with others on traditional Office).
We ensure that this "horses for courses" approach is always considered when deciding on an appropriate solution.
Maximising the "Platform Advantage" Whilst Cloud computing does not allow deep software customisation, its architecture (Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)) allows very powerful configuration options - effectively this means that on more mature platforms, such as, for example, Force.com or Acumatica, it is possible to use the same platform to deliver many different capabilities to the same or different users (replacing entire groups of previously separate applications) - in turn "stretching" the same monthly licence fee to cover more capability - the overall effect is larger cost reductions.
Example: a large district council is currently piloting an ERP (Acumatica) system. It will be licensed for the organisation for £X per month. If only the finance system uses it the price per user is comparable to the existing solution. However, if HR and Customer services users will also migrate (which is the plan), the same £X pounds will be shared between all of them, replacing 4 major council systems and making a significant saving. Each team will "see" a completely different interface, specific to their use, but running on one platform.
Clearly, in some cases, maximising on one platform will deliver the biggest commercial benefits, while in others it will be easier, cheaper and better to provide deferent applications to support different capabilities. It remains to be seen which of the above two models will become more dominant as the market place matures.