Tuesday 6 March 2012

Big IT is past its sell by date, but Scotland is ripe for the picking

In Westminster the government has just woken up after decades of slumbers and realised that IT can be done efficiently and can be done well. But in so doing, it is re-writing the whole way it deals with the big IT suppliers that have lived off government contracts since the beginning of time.

So all those big name IT businesses realise that they need to restart some long contracts with the Scottish Government before Scotland realises what’s going on.

Here are some of the things they are likely to do that the Scottish government would do well to recognise:

  1. They will want to try to create as many long-term contracts now as possible so that the government is tied in to them when they realise what they should have done. This means that they will probably offer to exit from existing contracts on beneficial terms that seem surprisingly generous.
  1. Working off the back of the poorly thought out McClelland report, the big IT suppliers will find it easy to persuade the Scottish Government that it can save money by centralising procurement and enforcing standards. They will argue that government has to make the ‘hard’ decision of enforcing change across the board all at once in order to save money.
  1. They will encourage the importance of ‘governance’: because big bureaucracy encourages centralised decision making and big committees and boards can’t make decisions so they will end up ‘consulting’ industry.
  1. They will supportively help Scotland the create its own Public Sector Network. They will unreluctantly acknowledge that it is essential for security and reliability. It will be so complicated that only they will understand it but, in their embarrassment, government officials will pretend to understand it because they know that they should.
  1. They won’t use Open Source software, indeed they’ll try not to let it enter conversation, and if it does they will laugh it off as not a serious suggestion.
  1. They will insist that contracts are commercially confidential. How could industry survive if they weren’t!
  1. They will retain ownership of the technologies they use and make sure that they are tied to some proprietary systems that are ‘industry standards’.
  1. They will offer lots of stuff at such competitive rates in the short term that it seems like an offer that just can’t be turned down.

Scottish Government - be warned!

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