Tomorrow, George Osborne is expected to announce how the new government will achieve the £13bn of public sector “departmental savings” that headlined its manifesto, supported by a plan for improving public sector productivity.

While of course much of the savings will come from cuts to spend, it is the search for productivity gains that will make the remainder. According to the Cabinet Office, the solution to achieving such efficiency and productivity gains, not to mention reducing IT costs, is being ‘Cloud First’.

Our natural contention is that the heart to improved productivity is the ability to effectively collaborate, both internally and externally. At the root of this capability is a cloud-led infrastructure, and the flexibility and mobility that come with it.

But are frontline public sector workers ready for ‘Cloud First’? Do they understand cloud technology, trust it and ultimately want to use it? If not, the £13bn in cuts could be instantly undermined.

Today, we are launching detailed analysis – the most in-depth of its kind – into public sector attitudes towards cloud computing, its use, potential, data security and alignment with key government initiatives. We, with the help of Dods Research, canvassed the views of more than 5,000 UK public sector workers, split across central government (1,529), local government (1,222) and the NHS (2,148) and across a range of job titles from clinicians to administrators, managers to Chief Executives.

Given the backdrop of the need for high levels of public sector savings and the dependence on cloud technology in order to achieve it, the output gives cause for concern, and definitely shows areas for improvement. The full document, “Meeting the Digital Challenge: How Well is the Public Sector Embracing Cloud Computing?” is available for download today, and some of the headlines are below:

 

Public sector confidence in cloud technology

The key revelation was that only 35% of public sector employees are confident using cloud technology. The reasons cited were predominantly around security, the time and effort required to move to cloud platforms and the lack of expertise to implement them. Although, aside from these specific concerns, more than half of respondents simply did not see the benefit of cloud computing. 

 

Data security

95% of public sector workers share and work on information with external organisations. But if this external collaboration is not taking place via secure cloud platforms, then insecure and inefficient approaches are filling the void. For instance, 43% rely on sending hard copies of documents through the post while 27% use couriers. While data security is an obvious issue, so is the excessive cost and the fact that such slow and inefficient sharing of information is the antithesis of modern collaboration.

 

G-cloud

The G-cloud procurement initiative can be considered an additional barometer for cloud technology support in the public sector. But only 50% of public sector IT staff have a working knowledge of the framework – and when looking at actual usage, it’s even lower. 22% of central government IT departments have procured through it, and even this is far beyond the 12% and 5% usage rate in local government and NHS respectively.

 

So what does this mean? If these are the obstacles to cloud adoption in the public sector, and if this lack of appetite could impact the plans for improvements in productivity and collaboration, what needs to be done?

 

The full report includes an ‘action plan’ for public sector executives and IT leaders to help foster widespread use of cloud platforms and drive forward new ways of working. In three steps, we are advocating:

 

  1. Building awareness and confidence in cloud computing by demonstrating the value of cloud platforms relevance and cracking down on protectionist behaviour by IT departments e.g. inefficient, inflexible and unsecure working practices
  2. Complying with the new security classification system by interpreting Cabinet Office guidance and using pre-certified commercial collaboration platforms
  3. Embracing G-cloud and working with SMEs in a way that helps boost user confidence in cloud platforms

 

Attempts to instill wider and better collaborative practices via technology alone are destined to struggle. Success depends on employees understanding and agreeing with the original objectives and intentions behind the introduction of the technology. In a similar vein, the government’s efforts to build the awareness of and confidence in cloud technology are crucial to its adoption, and therefore any plans to improve public sector productivity and secure collaboration.

 

To read the full report, visit www.huddle.com/resources/whitepapers/dods/

 

 

 


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