Government must rethink IT management strategy: analyst

Cloud, virtualisation, flexibility will be hindered if lock-in continues

A lack of flexibility towards IT management in the government sector may hinder the development of cloud computing and virtualisation.

In a presentation to IT leaders in Sydney, Ovum public sector research director, Kevin Noonan, the future of IT in government must be flexible if the sector is to avoid being ‘locked out’ of future technological advances.

“Long term out-sourcing agreements and locking yourself into agreements with vendors with no cloud strategy means you are locking yourselves out of those future options,” he said.

“Even in long term relationships, how can we ask ourselves what flexibility options are we locking ourselves out of? Will we be locking ourselves out of long term production, cloud and other means?,”

Future elections at both the federal and state level will no longer about a ‘red versus blue’ battle according to Noonan, with a shift towards a more open form of government taking precedent.

“Open government has become a clear driver. People want greater engagement with government,” he said. “We’ve been tinkering with Web 2.0 and this has been described as one of the scariest thing a government can do.”

While the Queensland government shared-services debacle has moved the focus away from this form of government, the pendulum may eventually swing back in this direction.

“Do you want a commodity service from IT? Do you want stakeholder management?” Noonan said. “You have to structure your organisation differently depending on how you want your organisation to look.”

Locking IT departments into a rigid structure would only negate progress in the sector, Noonan claimed.

“With the possibility of having a minority federal government with a focus on negotiation, the question to IT departments of ‘what do you want us to do?’ is really important,” he said. “We have to ask if we are locking ourselves into particular ways of doing business.”

Noonan suggested that focusing on cloud based technologies would be important to the government sector, however he warned change management was an equally important factor that should be taken into consideration.

“We start to look at an explosion in choices around outsourcing, agency needs and in-house IT,” he said. “The cloud and virtualising your environment might not cut it in the future. It’s about changing management structures to adapt on the way.

“Architecture, governance and relationship building is the future of the way government does business. At all levels we can see that many levels are unknown. The question for us to chart a path that allows for emerging outcomes. How do we get governance procedures in place?”

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