by Jerry Fishenden

Whitehall zeroes in on cost

Jul 13, 20122 mins
GovernmentIT LeadershipIT Strategy

It wasn’t long ago that an organisation’s choice of IT was dictated to its users by a centralised internal IT function, hand-picking selected devices and favoured suppliers.

This god-mode model dates from an era when expensive IT needed dedicated professionals to steer an organisation and its users through high cost and complexity in order to realise a benefit.

Today it’s the users who are helping drive a transition towards zero organisational IT, an inevitable consequence of mass commoditisation and consumerisation. Leading organisations are no longer specifying particular suppliers, products or devices.

Instead there is a relentless focus on the user requirement and the identification of the open standards, interfaces and formats required to provide the necessary capabilities.

Supporting such a flexible organisational model requires organisations to update their legal and human resources policies to adopt a more appropriate approach to risk management.

At Intel, for example, 55 per cent of its employees use their own devices, with claimed employee time savings of 47 minutes a day, a 94 per cent satisfaction rate and no detrimental impact on support. Security has improved, with users more motivated to look after their own equipment than company-provided kit.

The move away from restrictive and inflexible in-house IT infrastructures is being assisted by the move to cloud-based communications and content accessible to users via a diverse range of devices and operating systems. High-end privileged ‘enterprise’ features, such as remote device tracking, remote wipe and dual-factor authentication, have become commodity consumer services available to all.

The emergence of CloudStore, the pilot of Google Apps in the Cabinet Office and the re-appraisal of government’s approach to information assurance provide welcome evidence that the mindset of zero IT is already benefiting Whitehall.

Given that explosions of industrial creativity rarely follow the invention or discovery of a technology, but instead its commoditisation, we can only guess at the changes still to come. Yet the scale of this change is already evident: one organisation has given its users far better and more flexible IT while also reducing costs from around £1000 per user per annum to around £40. Another has cut its communications cost by over 80 per cent.

Proof, if anyone ever needed it, that better services can be achieved at significantly less cost.