Chant's warning to multinationals and client-side IT

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Chris Chant has given an interview to, expanding on the shift to a product-centric, off-the-shelf model for government IT. SMEs, he says, are ‘absolutely front and centre to what we need… and it’s that market we’re really encouraging.’ It will be a bit challenging, he concedes – probably more than SMEs would like; but says they’re trying to make it as easy as possible.
Are we ready for ‘cloud’? ‘No, I don’t think we are at all. I think we’re quite a way away from that, and that’s something that we need to apply ourselves to. I think we are very well positioned to operate in a world where our IT is delivered by large multinationals, but that’s the way things have been. Now it’s a very different world. For a lot of what government does, it’s about commodity products, and we need to get people in who know how to handle that.’
‘We must bear in mind that we’re here for the citizens,’ he declares, ‘not starting from a departmental or systems standpoint. It comes to a very different model, and that means we’ll need to change the way we do things, we’ll need some new people I suspect, and we’ll need to do a lot of retraining. But above all, we’ll need a lot fewer people working on the client side of government IT than we’ve seen in the past.’
Inevitably, he’s asked about the recent ‘unacceptable’ speech. ‘IT is supposed to be an enabler,’ he says, ‘and quite often, in my experience in government, it’s actually a barrier to getting things done. And that’s no way to use IT. IT is supposed to support what we’re doing; we’re getting more dependent on it every day. And there’s no excuse to do anything other than get that right.’

One thought on “Chant's warning to multinationals and client-side IT”

  1. There’s a reason why government has traditionally looked to system integrators. It’s because they’ve usually arranged themselves, rightly or wrongly, into something complex and unique. And then, they rearrange themselves every year or two. Quite simply there *is* no off the shelf product that does much of what’s needed. Otherwise it would be being used.
    I’m not talking about content-only wordpress efforts here, but about task based systems involving real people (public and private sector), transactions, legislation and so on.
    It reminds me somewhat of the NHS fiasco. Each GP and hospital originally bought off the shelf products. Naturally, they could not communicate with each other so each person had multiple records none of which matched up, leading to the odd disaster. So it was decided to build a big all-encompassing bespoke super system. That proved too difficult, so we’ve decided to let each GP/hospital do their own thing.
    Can anyone guess what happens next ?

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