10 years, 11 months ago

UK Elections 2010 and IT – Conservative Party Manifesto 2010

Link: http://eamitabh.blogspot.com/2010/04/uk-elections-2010-and-it-conservative.html

The Conservative Party Manifesto 2010 which I reviewed for their IT agenda and priorities was accessed by me on this link.

Before I share my views on this, here is an extract of relevant content.

Sections of the document which focuses on cost reduction in the areas of government IT

Reduce the cost of procurement – This government has a dreadful record of managing procurement, with billions of pounds wasted on mismanaged projects. We will tackle wasteful government procurement projects by:

• strengthening the role of the Chief Information Officer to get a grip on government ICT projects;
• introducing a series of changes to ICT procurement to deliver better value for money;
• freeze on new Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)spending;
• immediate negotiations to achieve cost reductions from major suppliers;

Sections of the document which outline vision around information distribution;

We believe in people power – and today the information revolution gives us the practical tools to realise that philosophy. So we plan to change Britain with a sweeping redistribution of power: from the state to citizens; from the government to Parliament; from Whitehall to communities; from Brussels to Britain; from bureaucracy to democracy. Taking power away from the political elite and handing it to the man and woman in the street. Using decentralisation, accountability and transparency, we will weaken the old political elites, give people power, fix our broken politics and restore people’s faith that if we act together things can change. This is a new agenda for a new politics.

The Manifesto 2010 presents brief case studies throughout the document for success stories from various countries and markets in areas such as IT, Economy, Green Technology etc. The following is their brief of Silicon Valley;

Silicon Valley – Despite having a population twenty times smaller than the UK, Silicon Valley is a global beacon for innovation and enterprise, attracting more venture capital investment than the whole of the UK. Having led the internet revolution, Silicon Valley is now becoming a world leader in green technology development. These successes are thanks to the highly skilled workforce and world-class universities, the ease of starting a business, and the availability of credit and investment. In addition, companies in Silicon Valley have been able to attract employees in a highly competitive labour market by introducing measures to improve the general well-being of their staff, including flexible working and
childcare facilities.

Here are my views on this in brief;

The cost reduction agenda is useful and targeted at right focus areas. I personally believe that, government IT initiatives can be better project managed. A number of leading integrators, IT providers, outsourcing giants are contracted on a range of projects, and the government has latest modern tools, technology and thinking at its disposal with an access to these IT leaders. But as we know from IT management experience, unless the end-user (in this case government departments) defines the scope, specifies clear requirements and defines budget and timeline framework, most complex IT projects have tendency to go over budget, beyond agreed milestones and generally end up being expensive initiatives. So any focus and better control from CIO is a welcome news. However, a caution needs to be maintained not to write-off current investments altogether. There must be lot of assets being already created by these contracts. And I would like to see first of all an inventory of such assets and then a roadmap of reuse of these assets across the departments. Cuts for the sake of cuts without linking it to strategic vision and roadmap will prove to be even more costlier in the long run.

On the vision of IT, Conservatives are making right noise by talking about giving access to information to people and describing Silicon Valley as model. But I am still missing concrete policies in this area from this manifesto. The document still does not tell me precisely what the Tories will do to advance the agenda of IT in the UK. Silicon valley is a great model to emulate but as we know, it valley in an ecosystem of universities, venture capitalists, innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs backed up by tax regime, infrastructure and other conducive factors. What exactly will Tories do to replicate the model here in the UK?

To summarise my verdict here is similar to what I wrote about the Labour IT policy. It is discussing leveraging IT from one or two perspectives but to a great extent lacks the substantial vision, falls short of ambition and is weak on the planning and policy matters. Next I will review Lib Dems manifesto and hope I find some more substance there.