Category Archives: Public Sector

What did we learn from PwC’s local government survey?

City HallPwC has recently released findings from its annual survey, The Local State We’re In, which assesses the challenges facing local government and their responses to them, as well as looking at public opinion on the organizations capabilities.

Here, we’ve pulled out four of the lessons we learnt from the report:

Data Analytics is top of the agenda for CEOs and Local Government Leaders

A healthy 91% of the Chief Execs surveyed confirmed Data Analytics was an area which they were well equipped. This in fact was the most popular answer for this specific question, as other areas such as business intelligence (59%), supply chain management (55%) and information governance & records management (40%) fared less so.

While it is encouraging the leaders are confident in their team’s ability to perform in the data analytics world, the research also stated local government’s use of structured and unstructured data varies quite considerably. 71% of the Chief Execs agreed they were using structured data (e.g. information in government controlled databases), whereas this number drops to 33% when unstructured data (e.g. social media and data generated through search engines) is the focal point of the question.

As the consumer continues its drive towards digital and the connected world, the level of insight which can be derived through unstructured data, social media in particular, will continue to increase. Back in 1998 Merrill Lynch said 80-90% of all potentially usable business information may originate in unstructured form. This rule of thumb is not based on primary or any quantitative research, but is still accepted by some in the industry. Even if this number has dropped, there is a vast amount of information and insight which is being missed by the local government.

But data driven decision making isn’t

Throughout the industry, data driven decision making has been seen as one of the hottest growing trends, and also as the prelude to the introduction of artificial intelligence.

Despite the media attention such ideas are receiving, it would appear these trends are not translating through to local government. Only 41% of the respondents said their organization is using data analytics to inform decision making and strategy. It would appear local government is quite effective (or at least confident) at managing data, but not so much at using it for insight.

Digital Device Tablet Laptop Connection Networking Technology ConceptPublic is not confident in local government’s ability to embrace digital

Although leadership within the local authorities themselves are happy with the manner in which their organization has embraced digital, this confidence is not reflected by the general public.

76% of Chief Execs who participated in the research are confident in their own digital strategies, however only 23% of the general public are confident in the council’s ability to manage the transition through to digital. This is down from 28% in the same survey during 2015 and 29% in 2014. The findings could demonstrate the rigidity of government bodies, especially at a local level, as it would appear the evolution of emerging technologies is outstripping local government’s ability to incorporate these new ideas and tools.

There is also quite a significant difference in how the public and the Chief Execs view cyber security. While only 17% of the Chief Execs believe their organization is at risk from cyber threats, 70% of the general public are not confident local government will be able to manage and share their personal information appropriately. 2016 has already seen a number of high profile data breaches which could have an impact on the opinions of the general public. If tech savvy enterprise organizations such as TalkTalk cannot defend themselves, it may be perceived that public sector organizations are less likely to do so.

However, local government does have the backing from the public to invest in digital

The general public would not appear to currently have great confidence in the local government’s current ability to embrace the digital age however they have seemingly given their blessing for the local government to continue investments.

39% of the general public who completed the survey highlighted their preference for engagement with local government would be through a digital platform, as opposed to the 24% who would prefer the telephone and 28% who would rather engage in person. Unfortunately, while digital is the most popular option for engaging, only 37% were satisfied with the current digital access to local government, down from 38% in last year’s research.

Salesforce launches Government Cloud Lightning platform

Salesforce WearSalesforce has launched Government Cloud Lightning platform, a new offering to which enables US government agencies to connect with citizens and stakeholders anywhere and on any device.

The new product offering is built on the assumption that government agencies are burdened with legacy systems which limit the opportunities to communicate and operate effectively. The team claim the Cloud Lightning platform will enable government agencies to transform their operations to a more modern, mobile and responsive proposition.

In a report published last year, the Government Accountability Office claims $58 billion of their $79 billion IT budget in 2015 maintaining legacy systems, as opposed to investigating and implementing next-generation IT offerings to improve operations. Saleforce has seemingly built its proposition on the idea government agencies are in the process of a transformation to create a more digitally enabled ecosystem.

“Private sector innovation has changed the way citizens expect to interact with their governments, so providing our customers with modern and secure tools is paramount to increasing citizen satisfaction and engagement,” said Vivek Kundra, EVP at Salesforce. “The launch of Government Cloud Lightning, along with extended compliance standards and enhancements, will empower agencies, the aerospace and defense market, and government contractors to digitally transform and connect with citizens in new ways.”

The new offering is built on three key features; The Lightening Experience, the Lightening Platform and the Lightening Ecosystem. From an experience perspective, Salesforce claim the new product will offer users the opportunity to streamline how they communicate and collaborate, as well as create a personalized experience that is consistent across products and devices. The Lightening Platform will help users build apps for desktops and mobile devices, and the final feature will link agencies to Salesforce’s partner ecosystem.

“The Government Cloud Lightning ecosystem is a highly anticipated leap forward for the apps that our federal teams are building on Salesforce,” said Rusty Pickens, Senior Advisor for Digital Platforms at the US Department of State. “Government Cloud Lightning provides us with a modern and clean interface that allows us to build an item once and trust that it will work on any device. Even more importantly, it empowers our diplomats all over the world to access their CRM data right wherever they are, from a mobile device that has all the power of a typical government computer.”

IBM acquires Optevia to strengthen position in public sector CRM market

cloud_IBM claims the acquisition of Optevia will improve its position as a SaaS and digital consultant in the lucrative market. Optevia has a track record of working with UK Emergency Services, Central Government, Local Government and Social Enterprises, including the Ministry of Justice’s National Taxing Team’s rollout of Dynamics CRM.

“By acquiring Optevia, IBM will be able to provide Public Sector clients and prospects with a range of unique, industry focused Microsoft Dynamics CRM based solutions,” said Joanna Davinson, IBM’s European Public Sector Leader. “This strategic acquisition will help strengthen IBM as a SaaS provider and Global Software Integrator.”

In Gartner’s CRM Forecast Overview, published last summer, the global CRM market was valued in the region of $23 billion, with around 50% of the market accounted for by the top 5 services providers. SaaS continued to demonstrate strong demand, with almost 47% of the revenue attributed to the service. According to Gartner,Salesforce.com is the market leader, with IBM claiming 4% of the CRM segment.

While IBM already has an established position in the public sector market, the company has 98 current offerings on G-Cloud, the acquisition of Optevia signals its intentions of increasing its share of the public sector CRM segment.

Alongside IBM, other players have been bolstering their position in the wider CRM market. Last year, Accenture acquired Tquila and Cloud Sherpas, both of which are Salesforce partners on G-Cloud. The acquisitions more than doubled the number of Accenture’s Salesforce consultants in the UK.

“We have seen significant growth in SaaS as more companies adopt the cloud and digital strategies to collaborate better, drive greater operational efficiencies and accelerate the development of new products and services,” said Emma McGuigan, UK and Ireland MD at Accenture Technology. “One key factor for our continued success in delivering Salesforce solutions depends on having the right skilled professionals to meet the growing demand. With Tquila on board we have the critical mass to more proactively target big opportunities both in the UK and Europe, which will extend our position in the region.”

Despite Salesforce.com’s current market-leading position there have been a number of calls-to-arms by competitors looking to challenge the CRM giant. Alongside IBM’s announcement, Oracle has hinted at its intention to take on Salesforce.com. On Oracle’s earnings call this week, CTO Larry Ellison highlighted the company’s positioning “should make it easy for Oracle to pass Salesforce.com and become the largest SaaS and PaaS cloud company in the world.”

E-procurement platform could save UK government £10 billion – report

Duncan: 'Australian public sector is warming to cloud but technology gaps remain our biggest challenge.'

Central government could save up to £10 billion per annum through a reformed e-procurement platform, placing a greater emphasis on administrative efficiencies and market competition, according to a new report.

With the use of e-procurement models championed by the likes of South Korea and Estonia, The Reform, a public-service think-tank, claims that savings of 25% could be made to the present $40 billion procurement bill. Even if e-procurement growth continued on trend, UK government would be set to save in the region of £550 million annually.

Whilst there is a large level of scrutiny placed on the government spending, significant steps have been made since 2010. The government now procures more than 25% of its services from small and medium-sized businesses, and since 2015, has relied upon G-Cloud for the procurement of cloud services.

G-Cloud as a platform has lowered barriers to entry, allowing more firms to compete for government business, and saving in the region of 20-50% when compared to legacy contracts. Building on this success, the implementation of the Crown Marketplace platform will enable government to move e-procurement models to new departments beyond IT services.

While it is still early days within the UK, other countries have demonstrated the wide benefits of e-procurement. Estonia currently attributes roughly 50% of its expenditure through e-procurement platforms, saving an estimated 30-40% on the cost of administrating procurement.

The Reform has recommended a consolidated platform for all government procurement activities:

“The Crown Marketplace should be a single portal for the e-procurement of goods and services. This should be accompanied by an integrated payment function,” said the report. “The framework to purchase commodities must be recompleted regularly to ensure maximum competition.”

While the immediate benefits demonstrate a reduction in expenditure, the move away from the current process will allow government employees to create value-for-money propositions, as opposed to drowning in administrative tasks.

Though the report and supporting statistics demonstrates a positive outlook for government spend, the potential of e-procurement can only be achieved if trends accelerate. The report highlights “If e-procurement continues to expand at the rate of G-Cloud growth in 2015, total government e-procurement spend could reach £3 billion by 2020”

Current e-procurement adoption levels would see UK central government save in the region of £1.8 billion and £4.5 billion depending on the level of pro-rata savings, though emulating the example of South Korea or Estonia would see the UK save in excess of £10 billion.

G-Cloud – why being certified matters

Cloud computingIt might surprise you to know that more than £900m worth of sales have now taken place via the G-Cloud platform since its launch. The Government initiated the G-Cloud program in 2012 to deliver computing based capability (from fundamental resources such as storage and processing to full-fledged applications) using cloud and it has been hugely successful, providing benefits to both customers and suppliers alike.

The G-Cloud framework is offered via the Digital Marketplace and is provided by The Crown Commercial Service (CCS), an organisation working to save money for the public sector and the taxpayer. The CCS acts on behalf of the Crown to drive savings for the taxpayer and improve the quality of commercial and procurement activity. The CCS’ procurement services can be used by central government departments and organisations across the public sector, including local government, health, education, not-for-profit and devolved administrations.

G-Cloud approves framework agreements with a number of service providers and lists those services on a publicly accessible portal known as the Digital Marketplace. This way, public sector organisations can approach the services listed on the Digital Marketplace without needing to go through a full tender process.

G-Cloud has substantial benefits for both providers and customers looking to buy services. For vendors the benefit is clear – to be awarded as an official supplier for G-Cloud demonstrates that the company has met the standards laid out in the G-Cloud framework and it is compliant with these standards. Furthermore, it also opens up an exciting new opportunities to supply the public sector in the UK with the chance to reduce their costs. Likewise it brings recognition to the brand and further emphasises their position as a reputable provider of digital services.

Where public sector organisations are concerned, G-Cloud gives quick and easy access to a roster of approved and certified suppliers that have been rigorously assessed, cutting down on the time to research and find such vendors in the marketplace. This provides companies with a head start in finding the cloud services that will best address their business and technical needs.

I am proud to say that iland was awarded a place on the G-Cloud framework agreement for supplying Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) at the end of last year. We deliver flexible, cost-effective and secure Infrastructure-as-a-Service solutions from data centres in London and Manchester, including Enterprise Cloud Services with Advanced Security and Compliance, Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service and Cloud Backup.

So if you are looking to source a cloud provider, I would recommend that you start your search with those that have been awarded a place on the G-Cloud framework agreement. It is important to then work with prospective providers to ensure their platform, service level agreements, native management tools and support teams can deliver the solutions that best address your business goals as well as your security and compliance requirements. Ask questions up front. Ensure the provider gives you full transparency into your cloud environment. Get a demonstration. You will then be well on your way to capitalizing on the promises of cloud.

Written by Monica Brink, EMEA Marketing Director, iland

US FedRAMP has turned into a slow lane for government cloud says protest group

Fedramp logoA cloud industry protest group has called on the US government to fix its FedRAMP process for certifying government cloud service providers. The inefficiencies of the system are neutralising any benefits the cloud can bring to the US taxpayer, it claims.

A collective of disgruntled agents, that ranges from top tier cloud operators such as AWS, IBM and HPE to support agencies and corporate lawyers, has appealed for a review of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, a certification process that has been dubbed FedRAMP.

Though FedRAMP was designed to simplify the use of cloud services by government agencies, the system has been described by a cloud industry advocate group as ‘fundamentally broken’. An aggrieved group of cloud players calling itself FedRAMP Fast Forward claims that a simple system, for helping US civil servants to select between FedRAMP-certified providers, has become too complicated and unwieldy. The pressure group has proposed a six point plan to address the system’s lack of clarity, high costs and lack of accountability.

The promised ‘certify once, use many times’ framework has not been delivered, claims the pressure group. Instead, the system has become expensive and time-consuming to use. As a result, the planned government savings from using cloud services are unlikely to materialise, says the group.

One of the reported problems is that the system does not provide the level of monitoring and management that cloud service providers would expect from any service. Potential suppliers to a government tender cannot gauge their status in the approval process or get feedback on the how to improve things or move the process to its next stage, according to a group statement. Agencies have also complained that they can’t see where the listed authorised cloud services might operate.

The Cloud Computing Caucus, a cross party group of US Congress Members, claims that the certification process is now nearly three times as lengthy as it first was. Worse, it can be 20 times more expensive. The group’s latest annual report says certification time has gone from nine months to two years, on average, while the typical cost expanded from $250,000 to up to $5 million.

The pressure group has now posted a six point reform plan calling for a single route to authorisation, more transparency over the approval process, harmonised security standards, cheaper monitoring, the option to upgrade without dropping out and a simpler road map for compliance.

FedRAMP Fast Forward members include AWS, HPE, IBM, CGI, General Dynamics and CenturyLink.

BT wins £24 million worth of EU cloud service contracts

BT Sevenoaks workstyle buildingTelco BT has won new two cloud service contracts with European Commission worth £24 million, which brings its total of EC contract wins to four in 12 months.

The brief, to provide public and private cloud services across 52 major European institutions, agencies and bodies, is one of the largest government contracts in Europe. Among the clients receiving the cloud computing services are the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Defence Agency.

The two framework contracts, announced this week, were awarded in December 2015, and will run for a maximum of four years once legal details have been finalised. Once work begins BT will implement the contracted private cloud services, after which it will become one of five providers competing to run public cloud projects.

The two new deals are the third and fourth European Commission framework contract wins awarded to BT in 2015, all of which involved open calls for tender from all EC approved suppliers.

In August 2015 BT signed a seven year £11.5 million (€15.2m) framework contract with the European Commission to provide voice services across 21 major European institutions, agencies and bodies. This followed March’s award of a five year £42 million (€55.7m) framework contract for the delivery of dedicated internet access to all major European institutions, agencies and bodies across the 28 member states. BT has provided services to the European Union for more than a decade.

The newly contracted services will be hosted from a geographically diverse spread of data centres within the European Union and all customer data will remain within the Union. As part of the tender process BT had to prove it could meet strict EU requirements for data sovereignty, compliance, security and privacy.

BT will integrate and manage the data centre estate using its Compute Management System (CMS), a single, federated portal for IT services which, BT claims, is its ‘secret sauce’ for winning contracts.

“This is a milestone in our journey to be the leading global cloud services integrator,” said Corrado Sciolla, BT Global Services’ president.

New players ally to G-Cloud 7 amid accusations of anti-cloud behaviour

Cloud computingA number of new service providers have announced their participation in the latest iteration of the UK’s government computing services framework, G-Cloud 7. Among the new suppliers pledging to meet the conditions of the latest framework were Fordway, Acuity, Company 85, RedCentric and Komodo Digital.

However, critics have argued that The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has introduced uncloud-like behaviour, as newly introduced limits could hinder buyers from expanding their use of cloud services.

Under the new rules in G-Cloud 7, users will be forced to re-tender via G-Cloud if they intend to buy additional capacity or services that will cost more than 20% of their original contract’s value. This, according to industry body EuroCloud UK, goes against the defining principle of cloud computing, scalability.

“It deters buyers from using the G-Cloud framework, because it actively discourages the pay per use principle,” said Neil Bacon, MD of Global Introductions and a member of EuroCloud’s G-Cloud working group. Worse still, he said, it will prevent buyers from getting the economies of scale that are the original motivation for their buying decision.

Several G-Cloud providers, including EduServ and Skyscape, outlined their concerns about the move in writing to the Cabinet Office. However, Surrey-based service provider Fordway has committed to the new system, launching its Cloud Intermediation Service (CIS) on G-Cloud 7.

The new service helps clients assess, plan, transform and migrate their infrastructure partly or completely to public cloud. It promises agile project management, bundling together the resources that clients will need to support their in-house team at each stage of the transition.

Fordway claims its relationships with public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google allow it to create a pivotal single point of contact to manage a transition irrespective of the target platforms.

In Fordway’s case, clients may not be subject to unexpected fluctuations in capacity demand, according to MD Richard Blanford.

“Most IT teams will only migrate their systems to cloud once, and it’s a big step. For the sake of their organisation and their own careers it needs to be planned and delivered successfully, on time and within budget, without any surprises,” said Blanford.

Cloud computing in the public sector

BCN has partnered with the Cloud Asia Forum event to speak to some of its speakers. In this interview we speak to Ben Dornier, Director of Corporate & Community Services, City of Palmerston.

BCN: What does your role involve and how is technology helping your organisation grow and reach more customers? What is the role of Cloud Computing in this?

Ben Dornier: My role includes responsibility for general corporate affairs (finance, city tax revenue, legal affairs, HR, IT, contracts, insurance and risk) as well as governance and strategy (the city strategy, annual budget, annual financial reporting, performance reporting, policy and corporate strategy), and community services (libraries, city recreational facilities, city facilities, city community services).

ICT plays a major role in ensuring this portfolio can not only be adequately delivered, but especially in ensuring it is done efficiently and sustainably. Cloud computing is a major player, with several major systems already in the cloud, and our transfer of all corporate ICT systems into public/private cloud hybrids over the course of this financial year. It has reduced our risk and cost base, and allowed us a shift of emphasis from employing pure technical expertise to technical strategy expertise, allowing us to focus on our core services while improving service standards.

What do you consider as the three main challenges for wide Cloud Computing adoption in Asia and how do you anticipate they can be overcome?

Interesting question, and really I can only answer regarding the public sector – the first is primarily HK based. I note a reticence amongst public agencies to provide mobility solutions to their employees, and I think this seriously hampers the effectiveness of cloud based solutions to get government workers out of their desks and into the city infrastructure and services, which I believe likely drags on costs and efficiency. With this as a barrier, many of the benefits of cloud based solutions will not be readily as apparent to the government – and the skill sets of highly competent, highly mobile workforce will not be an advantage.

Second, I see the structural issues associated with data governance and related policy as a serious barrier, although this is steadily decreasing. As long as policy makers are not actively addressing cloud procurement and adoption issues, the ICT staff supporting internal decision making will not be able to recommend new and innovative models of service delivery without there being fairly high costs associated with development. This continues the prevalence of ‘bespoke systems’ and the myth that ‘our agency and its requirements are unique, and we need a unique system’. I simply do not believe this is true any longer, and nations which address this at a federal or national level are reaping the benefits.

Third, in ‘cloud-readiness’, Asia is rapidly climbing – but this is really a private sector metric. I would strongly advocate that there be a concerted effort in the industry to support a public sector metric, which could bootstrap some of the incredible work happening in the private sector, and be a convincing argument for changes in public policy towards cloud use. Public sector use will be a serious revenue driver once procurement practices are able to support government cloud use in the least restrictive manner appropriate.

How much is Mobility part of your strategy? Is it important for organisations to enable employee mobility and reach out to customers through mobile devices?

Mobility is a ‘force-multiplier’ for us (to borrow from military terms), which allows us to increase productivity while reducing pressures on human resources. Municipal employees are able to spend less time at their desks entering data into corporate systems, be it for inspections and assessments of civic assets, to animal and parking infringements. For these staff, less time at the desk means more time doing the work they were hired to do. It also allows us to offer better employment flexibility for staff who would prefer to operate part time or odd hours, without some of the productivity issues often associated with workplace flexibility.

We are also finding that young employees are increasingly expecting us to provide this capability, and quickly adopt mobile solutions. As for our city residents, more than 50% are accessing city information through mobile devices when and where they need it, and an increasing proportion of these rely on mobile devices as their primary access. This will only increase.

How do you think Disruptive Technologies affect the way business is done in your industry?

Technology disruption is continuing to be a key component, particularly as older, expensive Line of Business systems are proving not nearly as capable as well managed cloud based solutions. I believe an increasing disruptor in this area will be cloud based integration services offering connections which tie multiple cloud based solutions into effectively a single service from the perspective of the end user.

There will always be a role for major system suppliers, but increasingly the aggregated cloud based service sector will take a large chunk of market share while reducing the risks associated to big capex spends and expensive implementations. When I am spending tax money, this is an important consideration!

Can you recommend a – relevant to Cloud and Technology – book/film/article that inspired you?

Being a bit more digital, might I suggest a blog! I have a heavy interest in concepts around ‘smart cities’, a technology disruption occurring around the business of building very expensive but often technologically ‘dumb’ civil infrastructure like bridges and waste facilities. I am an avid reader of posts at Jesse Berst’s “Smart Cities Now” blog, through his site at www.smartcitiescouncil.com. There are a few good blogs in this sector, but I enjoy the variety Jesse’s site provides.

What was your interest in attending Cloud Asia Forum? What are you looking to achieve by attending the event?

Frankly, I know from past experience that I am guaranteed an ‘ah-hah’ moment, or even several, which will change my thinking and perspective on a specific area related to cloud solutions in government. I am looking forward to hearing the speakers and interacting with delegates and finding out where these ‘ah-hah’ moments will occur. This year I am particularly interested in listening to topics covering C-Level persuasion, the translation of the technical advantages of cloud computing into corporate decision making involving non-technical (meaning ICT!) executives. For me, I think this will be helpful in persuading elected officials on their own terms about the benefits of cloud adoption.

asia cloud forum logo

Carrenza claims it’s now top cloud host for UK government digital service

gov.ukUK cloud service provider Carrenza has announced it is now providing the majority of hosting for the government digital service (GDS) as it made the production and staging environments for the Gov.UK site live on its cloud infrastructure.

Gov.uk has now rationalised hundreds of individual web sites for government departments and public bodies and concentrated the traffic for 24 ministerial departments and 28 other organisations according to Carrenza.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider Carrenza was initially asked to provide the infrastructure for Gov.UK’s preview operation in 2013 but, it claims, once it opened a second UK data centre its role was expanded. Carrenza rents capacity in Slough and London from data centre operators Equinix and Level 3.

Carrenza runs its IaaS and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings on a VMware-based cloud built on HP servers and HP 3PAR SAN storage which, it says, supports a range of operating systems, application and database technologies that includes “pretty much anything that runs on X86 architecture”. After Carrenza achieved official security accreditation the GDS moved the majority of Gov.Uk’s staging and production systems to the Carrenza Cloud, which has now received 2 billion visits, it says.

GDS originally found Carrenza through the G-Cloud III framework and a competitive tendering process. A major consideration for any cloud service provider, when pitching for contracts with the GDS, is a commitment to open source technology, according to Carrenza CEO Dan Sutherland.

Carrenza was chosen for Gov.UK because its custom software was developed in-house at GDS which needed to source cloud hosting and support for its flagship website.

“The launch of Gov.uk was a significant milestone,” said Sutherland. Open source has underpinned open dialogue and is helping to change and improve the way government communicates with its citizens, according to Sutherland.

Any cloud service provider wanting to win government contracts needs to concentrate on communicating with them, according to Andrew Mellish, Carrenza’s Head of Public Sector Services. “Our team understands what GDS is trying to achieve and how best to deliver the technologies they are using,” said Mellish, “when someone from GDS calls one of our engineers, they know they are speaking to someone who gets it and will work with them as efficiently as possible.”