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Investing in our future

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Earlier this week, Richard Carde (by teleconference) John Stockwell and I were involved in a discussion with Andre Tytheridge (2e2) about progress in the NTC programme.

Richard is working on the updated business case, as part of which we felt a further brain-storming/ SWOT analysis is called-for - given the degree of change since the original vision was established.

For example, the realisation of some infrastructure objectives, as envisaged in 2005, is still proving elusive. Whereas, at that time, Gartner was forecasting that “WiMax access solutions that are suitable for enterprise users that telecommute from rural areas (or urban areas where no alternatives exist) will be available by 2006 and may offer lower costs and multivendor interoperability, compared with other proprietary solutions”, in fact, genuinely broadband wireless solutions, such as WiMax, have been much slower to develop. We are therefore considering other technology, such as LTE (Long Term Evolution).

Other changes include, of course, the economic recession, changes in government policy, leadership changes, supplier positioning and the potential challenge to the exercise of Well Being powers as happened in Brent.

I had the opportunityto review and comment on Socitm’s response and policy briefing on the Digital Britain report, which I think is excellent. Look out for its publication next week!

On Wednesday eveningI attended “A Shared Vision for Smarter Services”, chaired by Socitm’s President, Steve Palmer, hosted by Andrew Miller, MP, in the House of Commons Dining Room, and presented jointly by Socitm and Global Action Plan supported by Logicalis, IBM and CA. The event was held to launch a consortium of diverse and influential organisations calling on Central Government for a £1 billion IT stimulus package that will lead to smarter, more environmentally efficient, higher quality public services.

Steve stressed that we weren’t looking for a Government handout; the proposal is that funding be provided strictly on an invest-to-save basis, with agreed repayments being deducted up-front from future budgets as now practised by many local government organisations.

Following Steve’s opening remarks, Andrew Miller spoke in support of the proposition, having just come from the floor of the House where he had been speaking on the just-published Cyber Security Strategy. Andrew chairs PITCOM (the Parliamentary IT Committee) and, as you can see from his biography, is otherwise well positioned to support our cause. He spoke with particular enthusiasm about the innovation of UK companies such as Miniframe in developing products with efficiency and environmental benefits.

Trewin Restorick, Director of Global Action Plan, also spoke, highlighting the economic pressure on future generations that follows from the recent public expenditure commitments to stave-off economic collapse, with the double whammy of the accompanying increased pressure on public services.

He highlighted the fact that the Government commitments to 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 (34% by 2020) and the tax of £12 per tonne of emissions on organisations with energy bills above £1m, with accompanying rewards to the most efficient, could result in some interesting cross-subsidies.

There followed a Q&A session for the panel, which included representatives of the sponsors. I asked a question about the rationalisation of supply implied by all this transformation and efficiency and how this can be squared with supporting a thriving, competitive economy and full employment.

The answers seemed to imply that I was concerned about protecting public sector jobs; they concerned generating the capacity, through efficiencies, to invest in serving unmet demand (new jobs, I guess) but what I was really getting-at was the effects upon the supply side.

However, this was an interesting event, with unanimous support from the capacity audience and, besides; I always love visiting the Palace of Westminster!

There was lots of news, this week but I’ll confine myself to highlighting the appointments to these two important Cabinet Office IT posts. I wonder if they’ll be at next week’s CIO Council meetings

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