Category Archives: Public Sector

OIC speaker interview 3: Carolyn Brown, CIO at Durham University

In our third Ovum Industry Congress speaker interview, we capture the inspiring and enlightening thoughts of one of the top speakers at the Congress: Carolyn Brown, Chief Information Officer at Durham University.

Carolyn Brown“I am taking part in the Industry Leaders Panel discussing navigating challenges and delivering value in the digital world. I believe the notion that the IT landscape is changing is over-rated. The topics listed – the impact of automation and outsourcing, delivering ROI, evolving with industry transformation – could easily have been topics for discussion in the 1980s. I believe the purpose of the CIO and the IT department is, and always has been, to increase the NPV of their organisation. This could be done by transforming the business model, creating new products, services or assets, reducing costs or increasing efficiency. There are many routes to transformation. Sourcing strategies, agility and predicting change will always have a role.

Ovum: Thinking about the conference strapline “Strategy, Technology and the art of the possible”, what tech related innovation, transformation or invention would you hope to see in your lifetime:

Carolyn Brown: In the mid-1990s I worked on middleware design for Hewlett Packard, looking at ways we could use a network of communicating devices to change people’s world. In those days, even at HP, we had one shared mobile phone for the team. The ideas we worked on – and in some cases prototyped – included being able to phone your house to switch the heating on (nice when you want a hot bath as soon as you get in), being phoned by your car if it was broken into or by your fridge if it was switched off. We had the idea of the ‘internet of things’. What we didn’t realise was how quickly all of this would happen. That experience makes me think it is impossible to overestimate the speed of change. What I’d like to have is hypertext in my head for everything. Am I the only person who has wanted to point at the TV to find out who an actor is and what else they have appeared in? I am so used to having information at my fingertips that I expect everything to be information-rich, and am disappointed when it isn’t. Perhaps it is the “google contact lenses” that I’m looking for. The trick will be to make it non-intrusive.

Ovum: What has been the most rewarding project you worked on, and why it was rewarding?

CB: My most rewarding project is usually the most recent – right now that’s an organisational transformation and a £40M investment in infrastructure and cultural change. I’ve often saved companies millions of pounds and have found it to be less satisfying than you might think – Managing Directors surprisingly can care more about continuing their pet projects than about the bottom line. Transforming a team or revolutionising the way a business works is a tremendous high for me. Creating and delivering a new business model is fantastic – examples I’ve been involved with are the first online administration of flexible employee benefits, the first online AVC calculator for pensions, and putting smart cards on printers for secure printing. It is very satisfying to see printers everywhere today with card technology and to remember the dinner where my team came up with that idea, which was taken up very rapidly within Hewlett Packard: today I’m rolling out smart–card enabled printing across Durham University, saving paper, electricity and hundreds of thousands of pounds. I’m proud of having been part of creating that capability. A memorable, small piece of work was a few days spent improving admissions processes in a hospital – as CIO I happened to be the best business analyst available. A little analysis and automation saved 2 hours a day for nurses in admissions, leaving them free to look after patients rather than admin: the nurses were literally leaping in the air and screaming with delight when the new processes had been put in place – an image I’ll never forget. Knowing that it was improving patients’ lives as well made this highly rewarding.

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Joan Miller, Director of UK Parliamentary ICT, on the digital divide, online voting, BYOD and hackathons

joan-millerA recent interview with Computer Weekly magazine saw Joan Miller, Director of UK Parliamentary ICT, share her thoughts on how Parliament should be using technology today, as well as the challenges of digital in an evolving world. The interview is below.

Joan Miller will be participating in an Industry Leaders Panel Discussion at Public Sector Enterprise Insights on 13th March (free passes for public sector executives), which can be summarised thus:

Leadership, Innovation and Driving Business Goals Forward

  • Successfully supporting a more agile organisation
  • Progress on Urban vs. Rural Landscape – A realistic map for the future
  • The future – Exploring opportunities mobility and engagement
  • Public Sector Networks
  • M2M and the future requirements on IT capabilities
  • Skills needed for the future

The other speakers on the panel are: Bill McCluggage, Irish Government CIO, Department of Public Expenditure & Reform; Michael Eaton, Deputy Director, ICT Business Strategy & Planning, Welsh Government; Chris Price, Chief Information Officer, West Midlands Police Authority; Stephan Conaway, Chief Information Officer, London Borough of Brent.

Here are Joan’s thoughts:

Miller says she is excited about the prospect of a [digital democracy] commission: “Technology has become so much a part of how people work these days, not just an IT issue, it’s a business issue.”

She says the commission will allow MPs to think through the impact of current technology practices and future trends.

“I think the commission is an opportunity to look at the challenges,” she says. “The challenges are in an evolving world – are we ready for that evolving world?”

She believes there are many issues for Parliament to debate, including the use of technology and how that will change the way Parliamentarians works.

Her job role is to manage the internal technology in Parliament, providing all the applications, systems and devices used by the House of Commons and House of Lords.

She says we are living in a world overloaded with information from modern technology. Parliamentarians need to consider big data, how they select the information they need, which is useful, and how they will engage this information with the public.

“I think the mechanisms for accessing information has become easier, but the information has become more dense,” she says.

The digital divide

One concern the commission is determined to address is that of the digital divide. Society is divided by those who are connected to the internet and use it regularly, and those who do not use the internet and social networks. The government is aware of the problem, and is working through the commission and the Government Digital Service to solve it.

“Many MPs are using social networks and connecting directly with many members of the public,” says Miller. “That also has the opportunity to exclude people who are not involved with technology as much. What do we do with about the population who do or can’t have access to it?”

But Miller – who is hoping to provide evidence to the speaker’s commission – says the digital divide is not a new problem and has always been a challenge.

In the 1990s, Miller worked in local government at a time when there was talk about changing services in line with the development of the internet. “I was working in social services and providing services for older people,” she says. “It was quite difficult to see where the internet could help older people who didn’t have a computer.”

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Time for local government to cash in on G-Cloud savings?


Michael Passingham on V3 has reported quotes from the Head of the Government Digital Service, suggesting that local government bodies are largely ignoring G-Cloud.

Tony Singleton, Chief Operating Officer of the GDS, cited a 2013 survey that found 80 per cent of local authorities have never heard of G-Cloud. This is despite more than 1,000 suppliers now being listed on G-Cloud, and total sales on the platform reaching £78m in almost three years, with savings estimated to be around 80 per cent (coincidentally), versus traditional IT procurement models.

Mr Singleton explained that “We want to start working with partners across local authorities so we can get everyone to understand what G-Cloud is, so we can start to make savings in local government as well as central government”. He admitted that, while it has shown considerable improvement, the current front end of the G-Cloud website is “very clunky”, but affirmed that “We are working on a new version of that now, both to make it easier for suppliers to upload information and for buyers to find out exactly what they want to buy”.

SMEs still take the lion’s share of the revenue, with more than half – £43.7m of the £78m total spend – going to smaller firms. However, the larger individual contracts still go the way of the companies such as IBM and Microsoft.

With the next phase of G-Cloud to launch in mid-February, how will local and central government best make use of the available savings? Find out answers to this question, and many more, at Ovum’s Public Sector Enterprise Insights in London on 13th March. There is an entire stream dedicated to Lean Procurement, Negotiation and G-Cloud, as well as streams on Digital Strategy Leadership, Digital Transformation, Next Generation Innovation, Tools and Data Governance. The event is free to attend for public sector executives, so join us there to firm up your ongoing IT strategy, reduce costs and deliver improved services through digital innovation.

Smart Cities in the UK to reach new heights

While I feel that Smart City development is something that lends itself to co-operation, as well as competition, it was great to read this press release from the UK Government about their ambitions for Smart Cities in the UK, specifically about the creation of the Smart Cities Forum. The opening to the release is below:

‘Government, cities, businesses and universities are joining forces to make sure the UK is leading the global race to develop smarter cities.

Government, cities, businesses and universities are joining forces to make sure the UK is leading the global race to develop smarter cities. A new forum led by government, will see local authorities and businesses working together to ensure that growth opportunities are not missed in a market estimated to be worth more than $400 billion globally by 2020.

The Smart Cities Forum has met for the first time today (18 December 2013) and will develop plans to support the creation of smarter cities in the UK. Smart cities have the potential for businesses to plan efficient routes to transport goods, allow local authorities to create effective public health services and provide the public with access to real time data so they can plan their daily activities.

The forum is being co-chaired by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts and Cities Minister Greg Clark.

David Willetts said:

There is huge potential for the UK to be the world leader in smart cities. We are well placed to take advantage of up to a $40 billion share of the market place by 2020, so we must make sure we do not miss this opportunity. The new Smart Cities Forum will bring the best minds together on a regular basis to establish a clear plan to exploit the exciting technologies that we have at our disposal.’

David Willetts will be speaking at Ovum’s Smart to Future Cities in April 2014 – – which is particularly exciting. Other speakers, who are also members of the Smart Cities Forum include Sir Alan Wilson, University College London; Peter Madden, Future Cities Catapult; Scott Steedman, British Standards Institution (BSI), as well as representatives from the cities of Sunderland, Bristol, London, Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Birmingham… [and outside of the UK] Chicago, Bilbao, Barcelona, Helsinki, Berlin and more. Check out the speaker line-up here.

Technology end-users from City Councils and Enterprises can register for the event for free, so be sure to secure your place today, and let’s see how Smart Cities can show us that the future is nearer than we think.

How can councils be effective online, and Public Sector Enterprise Insights

The Ovum events team will shortly be tuning into a live chat on the Guardian website, entitled How can councils be effective online, inspired by the Government’s Digital by Default Strategy. This ties in nicely with (a) a massive research initiative that Ovum has undertaken, and (b) an event that we’ve got coming up in March 2014, Public Sector Enterprise Insights.

The UK public sector spends c£45bn on goods and services annually, of which c£26bn is spent on IT. The UK is the most open public sector market in the world and the UK government is determined to broaden its supplier base and include SMEs.

The UK Cabinet Office has declared that it wants to bring spending on IT down to c£16bn so is looking for smarter value propositions from vendors and smarter purchasing from enterprises. Ovum has invested $1 million+ and 2,500 analyst hours in what we believe is the largest ever primary research program of 6,500 enterprise IT executives, in order to inform these smarter ways of working. With coverage of c.60 geographies, 17 industries and c.70 sub-industries its value is not just in its scale alone.

Asking the right questions is always the key and bringing together the creative input of over 20 of Ovum’s finest analysts as well as client input, we covered the crucial topics that those in Public Sector IT need to know. To give a feeling for the scope, the main areas covered include IT budget trends, technology investment priorities, decision-making criteria, vendor perception and industry-specific priorities.

The results of this research will be shared in London in March, co-located with our Transforming Health agenda. Public Sector and Enterprise IT professionals can claim a complimentary pass for the event.

Right, back to the Guardian live chat!