City of Westminster CIO David Wilde is making something of a name for himself on the CIO circuit in that \u2013 in a high-profile role that is often cautious \u2013 he is an unashamed proponent of such hot topics as shared services and cloud computing.\n\u201cIn the public sector there\u2019s been talk for a number of years about shared services but not a lot happened,\u201d he says. \u201cThere were counties or districts and maybe schools administration shared services but not at the level of finance teams, for example. Because of the financial constraints we\u2019ll drive that harder. Rather than having silos, it will be ERPs and sharing teams.\u201d\nIt\u2019s a sensitive area because \u2018efficiencies\u2019 typically mean reduced headcount, but that can\u2019t be an excuse for not automating and saving where it makes sense.\u201cIt\u2019s not exclusive to the public sector but you\u2019re talking about people\u2019s jobs. You\u2019re going to have fewer managers and, inevitably, fewer staff, or why do it? That\u2019s a difficult thing to get people to sign up to, but it\u2019s manageable if you can get the benefits across and show that it\u2019s more about people retaining their jobs.\u201d\nFree association\nAs for cloud computing, Wilde sees the phenomenon as the realisation of long-standing attempts to reduce dependence on internal systems, and is currently engaged in a programme to move desktop computing and core applications to a private cloud that will be largely controlled by consulting partner Capgemini and that will see Westminster\u2019s current datacentre in Victoria Street repurposed.\n\u201cTwo years ago we called it \u2018infrastructure-free\u2019 because nobody was using \u2018cloud\u2019,\u201d says Wilde.\n\u201cIt\u2019s about not having to retain a lot of expensive IT on our estate \u2013 which, this being Westminster, is an expensive estate \u2013 and taking advantage of what the market deploys. [Specialist datacentre hosts] are better than we are at it so why do we have to have datacentres at all? And of course it\u2019s going to be lower cost, more robust, have better disaster recovery and [make us] better able to adapt to change.\u201d\nOther changes also help trim costs and let Wilde\u2019s department focus on making a strategic difference.\n\u201cDesktops are commodity items and at home I don\u2019t...\n...\u00a0buy a helpdesk. You can buy desktops as a managed service from a supplier that\u2019s better at managing them.\u201dOf course in any sourcing engagement there is always sensitivity about the possibility of outsiders gaining access to personal information but Wilde says that the challenge is to secure access to information rather than devices.\n\u201cIt\u2019s the rules you have about the way information is treated [that are important],\u201d he argues. \u201cToo often the focus is on security at the LAN, WAN or firewall, but really it\u2019s about governance and systems -administration, the source and the destination of data.\u201d\nWhen it comes to cloud computing, that view still has to be communicated internally. Trust has to be established and good governance instituted. \u201cIt was a challenge but it took about four or five months until we got to the point where stakeholders trusted us. The vision has to be absolutely clear. If I say \u2018let\u2019s go infrastructure-free\u2019 [there\u2019s no positive response], but if I say, \u2018we\u2019ll take \u00a32m out of the budget and it will work better\u2019, it\u2019s positive.\u2019\u201d\nRather than endure prolonged consulting-itis, Wilde went to suppliers with a clear message: this is the strategy, now show me the savings.\u201cI said, if the cost is \u00a32000 or \u00a32500 per user per annum, the discussion is that providers [need to be] looking at \u00a31500 \u2013 you\u2019ve got 24 months to get there. The strategy has to be about value. A strategy that talks about technology is a wrong one; it\u2019s the tangible benefits you receive.\u201d\nDespite his desire to go infrastructure-free, for Wilde there is a limit to sourcing.\n\u201cThere are things you always have to retain. You need a strong, strategic function looking at the landscape and what\u2019s happening in the next few years. I don\u2019t want to buy somebody else\u2019s ideas. Technical design, security and configuration: that\u2019s another area where if you get it wrong you lose your job, compromise the organisation and have costs run away from you. For incident investigation you need a high-level skeleton team.\u201d\nFor more of CIO's interview with David Wilde, click on the links below:\nCity of Westminster CIODavid Wilde on rigorous budget management\nCity of Westminster CIODavid Wilde on staff resourcing and CIO bloat\nDavid Wildeis speaking at the CIO Summit on Wednesday 29 September. Click here for Tweets of the event.