Council bosses call for digital culture change

Council chief executives believe their chief information officers are more focused on whizzy technology than business needs, according to a new report.

The study, which revealed frustration at the top level of local authorities, emerged from a gathering of chief executives organised by supplier Eduserv.

Bosses reported perceived problems with the poor alignment of ICT activity to the priorities of the business.

The report said: “CEOs relayed a feeling that at least some IT professionals are still not in tune with real business needs and pressures, and are still too focused on clever technologies, rather than what they can do to transform service delivery.”

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Contrary to perceptions, chief executives are “clear and knowledgeable” about technology and willing to implement new ways of working that it offered, the report found.

They are keen to see less technology jargon in business cases which should present specific benefits to their organisation, the report said.

“Their frustration is with claims coming from ICT – either suppliers or in-house teams – that they can ‘enable digital services’ or ‘deliver transformation’ without specific examples of real business issues solved by technology with measureable outcomes which are relevant to the challenges they face.”

By delivering successful projects, ICT departments can earn the “opportunity to take risks”, the gathered chiefs said.

The report also said that ICT teams need to sweep away “Victorian ways of working” which our CEOs described as coming from owned IT models.

“These see ICT spending a lot of time procuring and maintaining systems, as well as the slow design and deployment of new applications,” the report said.

CEO also called for better use of data to help improve services, and seemed unable to understand why ICT found it hard to do so.

“While acknowledging the limitations of legacy systems, CEOs could not understand why IT seems to find it so hard to unlock data for wider reuse and to provide better customer insight,” the report said.

The group also called on a greater focus on moving away from legacy applications, which were seen as difficult to maintain and expensive.

Jos Creese, principal analyst at Eduserv said: “CEOs believe unanimously that when used effectively, technology is transformative, increases productivity, improves communications and enables efficiency programmes.

“It is logical that CIOs should play a role in helping organisations realise these gains. The opportunity for Heads of ICT and CIOs is to step up to these strategic challenges, seizing the chance to assist CEOs in driving and reshaping their organisations into the future.”

Colin Marrs

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