Skip to main content
Stand Up & Be Counted

You’re not making many friends”, I was told last week, referring of course to my most recent comments on IT procurement and in particular, the story on the health service email project.

I suppose, it’s really a question of how one defines ‘friends’. The CW360 mail bag has been attracting interesting and supportive letters from vendors, civil servants and doctors. I’ve even been asked along to the European Parliament, to chat with the commissioner and some MEPs in November but there’s a suggestion that other ‘friends in high places’ aren’t too impressed with my ‘King’s new clothes argument’.

What the mailbag tells me, is that people working at the leading edge of the larger public sector IT projects are concerned and as one distinguished source wrote “Public-sector PFI and outsourcing contracts need some radical new, professional re-engineering if they are to continue." Another reader with public sector responsibility commented: “After sitting and watching for some time I am just about to start asking questions. Your article seems to support my line of questioning.”

I plan to keep this particular ‘Thought for the Day’ brief. My intention is not to attack any particular government minister, department or strategy, because my experience and quite possibly your own, tells me that the great machine would simply roll into a state of denial and like Martin Sixsmith, I would find myself suddenly consigned to the lunatic fringe of journalism.

One of my academic friends, involved in eGovernment failures around the world, has concluded: “it emerged that failure can have benefits: but only if those around the project can learn from that failure”. I would argue that in the UK, there is little evidence that we are learning from our mistakes and instead and from what our readers are telling me, we are throwing ever-increasing sums of public money at projects of dubious value.

I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again. It’s time that the entire public sector process was reviewed in an effort to determine whether there is a better, more manageable, more accountable and more cost-effective means of rolling-out ‘Big’ ICT projects. Even a 10% saving on costs would represent an astronomical sum, which might even help towards achieving an appointment with my local GP inside ten days or a little more money for books in school.

The system we have in place today is in urgent reform. We are not a rich country and we can’t afford to waste what public money we have on technology which isn’t cost effective of fit for purpose.

I want to hear what you think about this. Am I on the fringe or too close to the truth?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…