Councils are under constant pressure to do more with less. Here’s how a more consumerised approach to end user computing can help them get more for their IT budget.
For almost a decade now, local authorities in the UK have been under constant pressure to do more with less. In July 2018, for example, a study from the Local Government Association found councils are on track to see their core funding from government reduced by £16 billion between 2010 and 2020.
Over this timeframe, many authorities have made impressive progress in plugging the gap. Examples include the introduction of new, more innovative digital services, and better information-sharing between departments, to improve efficiency in IT.
However, with a further funding gap of £7.8 billion by 2025 on the horizon, more needs to be done. So where else can councils make savings while still delivering consistent services to the citizens that rely on them?
The problem with end user computing today
One area we believe will become a key focus in the next few years is end user computing - and specifically how authorities can solve some long-running efficiency problems by following the examples set by consumer technology in this space.
To explain, it’s important to first understand how the user experience with IT appears in many large organisations today. A lot of the time, it can be very restricted - staff will have little choice or control over many aspects of their user experience, from the devices they use to the locations in which they can use them. In turn, a lot of the work will happen on machines that run Windows 7 or even XP, even though employees have long since moved onto mobile devices and cloud apps in their personal lives.
There are several reasons for this. One example is security - it’s understandable that many public-sector organisations should have concerns about adopting new technologies such as mobile and the cloud when they hold so much personal data on the citizens they serve. Another is the use of legacy applications, which often require significant updates to run on modern hardware and software combinations.
However, there are a number of knock-on effects from this restricted approach to IT. For starters, it’s difficult to work in an agile and flexible way when staff can only use a short list of pre-approved devices, applications and networks. Provisioning access to these resources takes time, which in turn impacts productivity. Finally, support for this kind of IT is costly and resource-intensive.
And that’s to say nothing of the impact on end user satisfaction. We all know the experience of using old technology can be agonising compared to using iPhones and modern mobile apps, and in some cases these frustrations can contribute to employee attrition and more.
The consumerisation opportunity
With all this in mind, there are clear financial incentives for local authorities to move away from this traditional, restricted IT model, and towards a model where staff are empowered to work from any device and any location - and where the overhead for managing their devices is much smaller.
This is called the consumerisation of IT, and it’s already visible in many UK enterprises and public sector organisations today. According to 2018 research by Capita and Citrix, for example, almost half (46%) of CIOs at organisations who have above 500 employees have now rolled out bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Of those, 92% report productivity improvements as a result.
Many councils will have a long way to go before they can fully embrace this trend. For one, they’ll need to standardise application delivery across different devices - something that may also require them to replace or re-engineer legacy applications for cloud delivery (although in the long term this will unlock its own cost savings). IT departments will also need the ability to support and secure devices that may not be in their direct control.
However, once the shift is made, local authorities should start to see significant wins in efficiency and productivity. Some areas, such as provisioning IT to new starters, will be transformed - once you can buy a device off the shelf, connect it to the internet and deploy applications from a cloud catalogue, you can reduce the amount of time it takes to amalgamate staff from days to minutes.
Public sector organisations in the UK are no strangers to using technology to make their budgets go further, with the rollout of digital services for citizens a key example. For many, however, end user computing is still waiting for its revolution - and when it comes, the implications will be comprehensive.
Find out more about the journey to a more consumerised approach to end user computing in our free report, Delivering Digital Transformation Demands Agile Workspaces - Where are Organisations Today?