Suppliers’ lock-in business models ‘doomed’

Current legal, contractual and procurement processes in public sector ICT are not fit for purpose, and large suppliers’ business models are outdated, according to a new report.

A white paper by public sector ICT representative body Socitm said that contracts which lock-in councils to using a supplier’s service for a long period are doomed.

Suppliers, it said, will have to repackage products and services if they want to preserve their attractiveness to public sector clients.

Stuart Mitchenall, head of ICT at Tandridge District Council, said: “Their (suppliers’) business models are of the transaction processing mainframe days – even at Socitm 2013 I saw a demonstration of how to place the smartphone into the mainframe environment.

“It’s the wrong way round, their supplier model is about maintaining income streams and existing behaviour, when innovation requires new models.”

The report also said that software suppliers will be forced to provide web-enabled products without a tie-back to a specific operating system, or a specific ‘business application service’ that they provide.

“This raises an interesting debate about the nature of market competition now, and what client/contractor relationship management means when in the background there is the constant peril that the client may initiate divorce,” it said.

Public sector bodies also need to take back control over data structures from suppliers in order to encourage shared services, according to Socitm.

It said that currently suppliers often report that data integration is difficult and will cost more than seems justifiable to public sector clients

“In effect, suppliers have taken a proprietary hold over the data structure,” it said.

“Shared or joined-up arrangements across the public service sector demand coherent data structures with the design being congruent with the nature of the data, and with access from a generic application in mind.”

Elsewhere, the report called for local government ICT departments to rebrand themselves as a business information service – potentially spanning several organisations in a community, according to a new white paper.

Socitm said that ICT departments needed to actively promote opportunities presented by technology, rather than responding to service demands from it.

They should also shift away from concentrating on the technology infrastructure towards encouraging the business to take full responsibility for the proper management of information.

The report said: “This rebranding involves treating technology simply as a toolkit that gets information to the point where it is needed, at just the right time and in the format that is most convenient for the job in hand.

“That does not mean to say that managing the ICT facilities and estate is not important, just that the service functions see it as just that – an FM operation that they expect to work seamlessly 99.95% of the time.”

Colin Marrs

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