Public sector technology is about to undergo one of its biggest changes as devolution starts to take place, says an opinion piece in Public Technology. There will be huge opportunity for suppliers, but also risks, as local authorities decide either to go their own way or to opt for a more integrated approach once unfettered from Whitehall.
The issue will be complicated (or possibly helped depending on how things turn out) by a number of councils opting to share back office services rather than reinvent the wheel – or continue to operate the wheel, as they cut back on duplication.
The opinion piece, from an IT vendor, understandably focuses on the opportunity devolution is likely to offer to the technology community. If we were advising local authorities, though, we’d be urging them to learn from the private sector and watch what the neighbours are doing.
Time after time we see examples of mergers between businesses whose back office operations are simply incompatible with each other. This is partly because they didn’t share the information on how they worked when they were separate entities; indeed, when you compete with someone, why would you?
Local authorities have the luxury of not competing. There is therefore no disadvantage to sharing best practice and above all ensuring complete compatibility, so if someone moves from Brighton to Edinburgh their relevant records can move intact – or if Croydon decided to share services with Merton (this is not a real example) the technology side, at least, could be achieved seamlessly.