As everyone knows (and is almost tired of hearing), there are huge pressures on local government to cut costs.ICT teams, traditionally seen as being on the fringes of the organisation, are typically the first port of call for such cutbacks. Slashing systems, support, outsourcing solutions, consulting, and most importantly people, is the expected course of action. At the same time, new challenges are pouring in: business teams want to do things differently, work from home perhaps, all data that should be transparent, now needs to be made public. New employees from the private sector (if there are any) expect to be able to work remotely, without having to request or pay for additional access licenses.
So there is this mis-match. Yes, do more with less, we have heard it all before. Yet this cloud does have a silver lining.
Some ICT managers that we work with, also see the potential. Specifically, what would happen if one particular council would get very good at providing ICT services (including cloud ones). They would save their own money, use the savings to up skill and develop their team, and perhaps become able to provide solutions for their neighbours? I know of at least two amongst our clients who are doing just that. In fact, they already are earning revenue from other councils for some services. Once they got going with pilots and got past the headlines to the details (of implementing cloud solutions), with a bit of knowledge transfer and coaching.
This effect is directly enabled by cloud technologies. Not only cloud solutons are configurable, but also infinitely scalable. If one council resolves security and data protection issues and has the know how (even in one particular application, such as ERP or e-mail) - they are in a strong position to tell others how to do it, or, as in this case, simply do it for them.
There are clear advantages if you become one of those "cloud ICT best practice hubs". Your ICT organisation grows - as do its skill sets and rewards. You become the beacon of shared services, least likely to suffer cuts. You have the trust and leeway of being able to try newer, more risky solutions, prove them, adapt them, and generate revenue from them. In short, your organisation becomes a public sector enterpreneur.
Give the current state of affairs, organisations that have convinced their politicians that this is the way to go, are likely to be the main winners of the age of austerity. I am proud to say that I know of at least two who are doing this - right now, supported by their strategy (which Arcus helped build), and pilots, projects that we help them run.