Adoption of the Cloud is rapidly gathering momentum within local government, says Capita One’s Chief Technology Officer Ed Fretwell. And for good reason.
The last 12 months has seen a noticeable shift in the mood of local government when the subject of ‘the Cloud’ is raised around the table.
It wasn’t so long ago that local authorities would voice reservations when the subject came up for discussion. Price, privacy, ownership, maximising existing investments, and a lack of suitable expertise were among a host of common doubts. IT departments would look at their responsibilities around security and (justifiably) worry if the Cloud could deliver.
Yet in the last year I’ve seen many of these reservations melt away. There is a sense that ‘The Cloud Has Finally Come’ for local authorities. The time feels right and adoption is a growing. In fact, it feels very like a snowball perched at the top of a hill ready to roll down and gather size and momentum at considerable speed.
“Chief Execs and senior teams are working on essential digital strategies that on-premise solutions just cannot deliver. Meanwhile IT teams are now seeing the Cloud as a real enabler.”
So why should that be?
The drawbacks of on-premise solutions are mounting up
Certainly a large part of it is the realisation that on-premise solutions are not just denying local authorities an exciting future, but snarling them in a troublesome present. A lot of infrastructure is nearing the end of its life, and the internal expertise that has run those systems is looking at retirement or may have left already. Replacing those skills in today’s market would come at an uncomfortable price. This only exacerbates the problem of there being too much key dependency on too few people.
Meanwhile Chief Execs and senior teams are working on essential digital strategies that on-premise solutions just cannot deliver. Even vital issues such as effective Disaster Recovery remain outside the grasp of many systems.
IT departments, stressed by the inherent complexity of their locally-managed systems are now seeing the Cloud as a real enabler. Whereas an earlier response might have been: “well we’ve been doing it this way for years and it works fine”, now IT teams and other departments too are waking up to how much simpler the Cloud could make their lives, and how much time they’d save to add greater value elsewhere.
But this is also about a shift in mindset that has come from a more aware market place.
A succession of cloud vendors banging on doors and making the point has helped (and I think Capita’s own position as an enabler for this technology has also contributed considerably). Seeing major names such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google succeed in the local government market, with the halo of trust those big brands generate, undoubtedly settled some nerves.
IT teams I speak to have also become less fearful of the challenges a move to the Cloud would present – as has the rest of the organisation. I think this is one of the most interesting contributors to the tipping point we are seeing.
The ‘Cloud works’ message is spreading across organisations
As technical reservations over, say, the security of having a council’s email in the Cloud have fallen, the expectations of those rising up the business side of local authorities have grown to match. They’re now able to say “but I’ve been using the Cloud in my personal life for a while – even my bank is on it – so why won’t it work for us?”
Finally, perhaps the sharpest spur to this change of attitude is the understanding of what local authorities can’t do if they stay where they are; of how much they and their services will be frozen in time if they don’t adopt a Cloud solution.
When it is increasingly obvious that the Cloud offers a future-proofed service, a robust and secure service, as well as flexible and versatile support for all your digital, IT and organisational strategies, then not joining the party starts to look like a world with just too many problems in it.