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Forget the 21st Century, it’s the 15th you need to worry about.

Synchronicity, otherwise known as ‘acasual coincidence’. Like ‘Déjà vu’, have you ever experienced it? It’s what describes the kind of coincidence that has old friends constantly bumping into each other, against all the odds.

There’s an awful lot of Déjà vu in the IT industry but not much synchronicity. I did however find an example in the Sunday Times, which reflected what I had been saying in Monday’s ‘Thought for the Day’ about the ‘Takeaway Economy’.

Oracle’s Larry Ellison was talking about industry consolidation and predicts, that one day, there would be only three software companies left in the world, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft and of course, Oracle. The remainder will of course dwindle and disappear, much as our own home-grown talent has done here in the UK and Ellison promises to retire when his ‘Killing Fields’ theory of software consolidation become self-evident; not long now then Larry?

Ellison, who is never short of a good quote, also told the Sunday Times “All government systems are a hotchpotch. The information architecture in most countries looks like 15th century Europe – Lots of distributed authority. – Horizontal integration will take years”.

Given the £6 billion size of the Government IT budget, Oracle, like rival Microsoft, is an enthusiastic eGovernment evangelist. Kingston upon Hull City Council is to invest a further £5 million in new systems that are expected to save the city an estimated £500,000 each month.

Whether Europe happens to be stuck in the 15th century is a moot point. Information Age Government has moved on slowly since the Renaissance but not that slowly, although there are notable exceptions, The Inland Revenue and The Home Office spring most quickly to mind.

The IDeA (Improvement and Development Agency ) last week published a white paper, "World View on Local e-Government" which makes the grand statement that England is ahead of other countries in achieving targets for delivery of the Government's e-agenda. The size of the challenge that lies ahead is reflected in the changes being made at the Office of the e-Envoy (OeE), which is now to concentrate almost exclusively on developing eGovernment, leaving the e-Economy remit, which includes Broadband Britain to the Department of Trade and Industry. In many respects, this change is a tacit admission that the urgent task modernising government is being lost in the complexity and detail of the larger Digital-Britain agenda.

If we are honest with ourselves, then we have to accept that eGovernment has a long way to go before it can prove itself and Larry Ellison is probably right when he predicts that integration will take years. With a multiplicity of systems and software and five million people working in the Government, progress will, I suspect, be rather slower than the 2005 target allows for.

One small detail could however speed the process up and wire-up the citizen government relationship much faster than is likely to happen without it. This small detail is of course the trust relationship with government represented by the personal identity card and other countries are accelerating away from us because they have no objection to carrying an identity card.

Without a national available means of offering a trust relationship, achieving the eGovernment targets will remain problematical, so as one can imagine, there is an increased interest in the notion of a personal ID card. But while most us would I suspect, have no great objection to carrying a citizen ID card as a kind of internal passport, civil liberties groups worry over giving the power and information that would accompany it to the same Government that only last month, tried to force through seriously flawed amendments to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.


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