As the IT leader of one of the busiest, most high profile London boroughs David Wilde accepts it\u2019s important to have soft skills such as people who understand the Westminster area and specific local issues. Despite these caveats, Wilde is running Westminster IT with an operations team of just 17. Could he drive it down even further by using public cloud infrastructure?\nWilde says Westminster \u201cwill never go completely public cloud but is more likely to move more deeply into private cloud\u201d in part because of the nature of the apps.However, another way to alter the IT picture might be to make the workforce even more flexible through virtualised desktops that would let staff access their desktop environments over the web from any device. Westminster\u2019s client computing devices are already 80 per cent laptop and a partially desk-less working strategy means there are seven desktops per 10 staff.\nAs for open source, another classic way to save cost, Wilde is neutral. \u201cI don\u2019t look at it as a conscious decision but show me the business case and I\u2019ll use it,\u201d he says, adding that Westminster\u2019s content management system is based on the Symphony open source system.\nAlso, he recognises that running Westminster has to be more than just automating and cheese-paring to the nth degree.\n\u201cThat can be difficult to reconcile with demand-led services when you\u2019re dealing with vulnerable children and the police,\u201d he points out. \u201cThere are a number of sensitive areas where we can\u2019t do things over the phone or the internet. It\u2019s [more important to get] the cost down to do more [in areas such as these].\u201d\nFace-to-face interaction will always be necessary in such areas but in others IT at Westminster is being driven by staff, for example in environmental protection or environmental health where staff make it clear that they \u201cdon\u2019t want to be nailed to their desks\u201d. Generally, Wilde says, \u201cSome people need to be convinced technology will work. The legal function is more difficult. We don\u2019t push home working; we encourage flexible working.\u201d\nCapital investment\nLooking at the capital, Wilde believes a lot more can be done across the 33 boroughs, an area that is the size of Holland and contains 11 million people. He talks about plans for shared next-generation network purchasing with Transport for London and the boroughs of Merton, Waltham Forest and Croydon, but concedes that complexity means \u201cit\u2019s never going to be all 33\u201d.\nWilde is a public-sector IT veteran, having previously been across London as Waltham Forest CIO, following 20 years in the Cabinet Office and at other posts in central government. He says he has never been particularly tempted by the private sector and believes that the challenges are common across the two sides and, more broadly, across all endeavours.\n\u201cIT is so integrated into the fabric of an organisation and...\n...\u00a0in our lives but because people don\u2019t know much about it they take it for granted. There have been some stunning examples of disaster in public-sector IT but there have been in construction too \u2013 and everyone forgets about British Leyland,\u201d he says.\nHe notes that the NHS is often cited for IT mismanagement but says that many areas of state healthcare continue to improve. Generally, he believes that paying attention to ready-made solutions tried and tested across projects is a smart idea rather than having everybody relying on consultants and unique solutions.\u201cIf the marketplace is already doing it, don\u2019t reinvent it,\u201d he recommends. \u201cThere is a tendency to overcomplicate things. There\u2019s a danger in risk-averse behaviour; there has to be room for risk because when projects with risk work they really pay off.\u201d\nHe\u2019s also a believer in the need to break up projects to avoid the mega-project failures. \u201cThe construction industry learned that years ago,\u201d he says. \u201cThe London Olympics is on target and on budget because it\u2019s not viewed as a single project but as a series with a common goal.\u201d\nBut what about the G-cloud project for online shared services that former shadow technology minister Adam Afriyie characterised as another mega-project?\u201cI don\u2019t view it as a product or a project,\u201d Wilde says. \u201cIt\u2019s a brand name for local regional networks with a set of standards, a set of frameworks.\u201d\nBorough market\nWe\u2019ll see. But what of Wilde himself? Well respected by peers and a seasoned operator, could he be next in line to run state IT after John Suffolk? He bats off the question but suggests a plausible elevation: running IT for several boroughs. \u201cLondon could operate perfectly well with 10 to 12 CIOs rather than 33,\u201d he suggests, masking this rather radical idea with his usual phlegmatic delivery.\nCould he go private? He says that private-sector CIOs crossing over to the public sector have had mixed reviews with some \u201cflourishing\u201d and others who just \u201cdon\u2019t get it\u201d and predicts that \u201cwe\u2019ll see a lot more public-to-private and IT service providers running big projects as commercial businesses\u201d. He doesn\u2019t rule out a switch but he\u2019s dogmatic about the importance of IT work in the public sector and has little time for those who complain about annoyances such as close media scrutiny.\n\u201cIf you don\u2019t like it, leave,\u201d he says. \u201cYou\u2019re operating in a political world.\u201d In fact, there\u2019s only one thing that this cricket fan would like to have: \u201cA WAN connecting me from here to Lord\u2019s.\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 shared services and cloud\nDavid Wildeis speaking at the CIO Summit on Wednesday 29 September. Click here for Tweets of the event.