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When it comes to responding to IT trends like consumerisation, the UK public sector is still some way behind the curve. Why is this, and what can CIOs do to improve matters?

Of all the transformative IT trends affecting enterprises today, few have put as much pressure on CIOs as consumerisation. As technology has become more central to our lives outside of work, employees have started to demand a consumer-like technology experience in the workplace - something fundamentally different to what IT departments have delivered in the past.

For obvious reasons, this represents more of a challenge for large enterprises with sprawling IT estates than for start-ups, new market entrants and smaller, more agile businesses. But many are now making progress. According to research released in September by Capita and Citrix, for example, some 95% of enterprises are either undertaking digital transformation projects or planning to do so in the next 12 months.

What we’ve also seen, however, is that when it comes to responding to IT trends like consumerisation, the UK public sector is still some way behind the curve. So why is this, and what can CIOs do to improve matters? Read our thoughts below.

Find out more about the challenges facing CIOs in 2018 in our report: Delivering Digital Transformation Demands Agile Workspaces – Where are Organisations Today?

Legacy systems hold back the consumerisation of IT

In the public sector as elsewhere, the fact that many organisations still rely on ageing legacy applications and infrastructure presents several challenges. It ties them to an outdated capex IT model, introduces new security risks if those systems are not updated to respond to new threats, and adds complexity to the overall job of managing IT. What’s more, it holds back their ability to offer a consumer-like technology experience.

Fundamentally, the consumerisation of IT means giving the user freedom from corporate devices and on-premises software - freedom to use the software they need to get the job done, on the device they want to use, from wherever they are. Legacy systems were never designed to grant this freedom, so organisations will need to replace or re-engineer them in order to deliver a true user-centric IT experience.

Our research shows there is appetite for this change, with 87% of CIOs agreeing legacy applications have slowed their journey to a more agile workspace. However, some will require outside help to transform their application base, with 36% citing lack of in-house skills as a barrier. 

BYOD and remote working introduce new challenges

We also found that, of the CIOs that have introduced a “whenever and wherever working” model, most report having encountered significant new challenges as a result of doing so. As such, BYOD and remote working will only be feasible for the public sector if enterprises have a clear strategy to implement this in a simple, secure and cost-effective way.

For example, we found that 87% of CIOs say BYOD has increased security risks for their organisation. Another 89% say it has increased the burden on IT support, and 88% believe it has increased IT management challenges in general.

Organisations are in the dark on the IT user experience

Finally, on a more fundamental level, it’s impossible to build a workspace that responds to the wants and needs of your employees unless you know what those wants and needs actually are - and our research showed some serious limitations in the way CIOs currently measure the IT user experience.

For example, just a third (38%) measure this every month, whereas more than one in four only ask for feedback once or twice a year.

In our personal lives, if we don’t like the way an application works, we don’t wait six months for our feedback to be included in a new version - we look for an alternative. If organisations wish to offer a consumer-like technology experience, they need to be far more responsive. Otherwise, employees will either turn to shadow IT - and the risks that come with it - or vote with their feet.

Find out more about the challenges facing CIOs in 2018 in our report: Delivering Digital Transformation Demands Agile Workspaces – Where are Organisations Today?

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