LONDON, 25 March 2011 The majority of public sector information technology budget holders believe an average of 6.4 per cent of the government's £16.5 billion annual spending on information and communications technology could be saved without affecting front-line services, new research commissioned by Cisco has revealed. Of the participants in the Cisco® Public Sector Network (PSN) Preparedness Survey, 37 per cent believed the Cabinet Office's PSN initiative provides a very real opportunity to revolutionise the way public services are delivered.
Established in 2008, the PSN initiative is designed to provide new ways of procuring and delivering ICT networks and service transformation across public sector organisations. It is forecast to deliver savings of £631 million per year by 2014*. PSN aims to unify network standards and procurement processes across public sector organisations. Currently, each public body designs, develops, installs and maintains its own network, an approach that has led to fragmented and expensive service delivery.
Published today, the Cisco PSN Preparedness Report consulted public sector IT budget holders on their attitudes, understanding and preparedness for public sector networks. It reveals a public sector environment simultaneously under pressure to cut costs and improve service quality. Key findings include:
Value, not cost - Despite cost-cutting pressures, the survey shows that most public sector organisations (75 per cent) are more concerned with getting value for their money than in achieving cost reductions per se. This concern seems to stem from a perception that they are not currently getting fair market rates: 53 per cent of the respondents believe public sector departments often pay more for equivalent services than companies in the private sector.
Service transformation - Key factors for transforming the delivery of public services in the current environment include the organisational culture (42 per cent) and technology (26 per cent). With technology integrated into almost every aspect of government, IT plays an increasingly important role in fostering collaboration and transforming service delivery rather than just being focused on automation to reduce costs or increase productivity.
Budget still a major concern - Budget concerns top the list of challenges in IT initiatives throughout the public sector: 59 per cent cite problems with identifying and finding funds and 55 per cent consider delivering within budget a key challenge.
Collaboration is vital 87 per cent of respondents admit that communication and collaboration with other government departments could be improved. What's more, the vision of a joined-up government is beginning to resonate within the public sector; 61 per cent of those surveyed believe that responsibility for making PSN a success for the public sector lies with everybody involved.
PSN could be the key - More than half of the respondents (51 per cent) admit the way they currently procure IT could be improved. Furthermore, 42 per cent think that the current procurement process focuses too much on technical aspects rather than on business benefits. Given the choice of technologies, the notion of sourcing networking solutions from a single provider holds little appeal. Framework agreements (29 per cent) and partnerships of best-of-breed IT providers (42 per cent) are a more attractive option for IT budget holders in public sector organisations.
"The high levels of awareness, an appreciation of the overarching objective of PSN, and recognition of the potential benefits of PSN at an organisational level combine to paint a promising picture not just for public sector adoption but also for the service delivery and transformation that can be achieved as a result," says Rod Halstead, managing director, Public Sector, Cisco UK. "Our research has shown that the interest and willingness to move forward with the programme exists within public sector organisations. Providing the information and education required to harness this support will be a central factor in driving widespread adoption."
*PSN Outline Business Case, 2009
For more information, download the Cisco PSN Preparedness Report here.
Cisco, PSN, Public Sector Network, IT procurement, public sector, Cabinet Office
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