Late last year when the government’s dreaded, derided, doom-laden Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) was announced, it was always likely to be followed by a good deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth. And so it inevitably proved. Nobody, after all, exactly relishes being put on a strict diet – financial or otherwise.
Least of all the IT department it seems, which, according to research from VMware, is struggling to shed both the pounds and the pounds.
The survey of senior UK public sector finance officers – carried out by ComRes on the vendor’s behalf and presented to us press at a recent event – found that of those public sector organisations forced to make IT budget cuts (i.e. most of them) more than half (54%) had yet even to make a start; the top brass having implemented less than 9% of the planned cuts to IT spend on average so far.
Just the £2.6 billion worth of savings to find over the next three years now then. No problemo. Even with the public sector’s less than sparkling technological CV. Oh, and the fact that more than two-thirds of the respondents (69%) reckoned that the cuts will be “difficult” to achieve within the three-year timescale.
All of which made one of the other headline statistics all the more interesting: that almost three quarters (73%) view IT as “integral to cost cutting efforts.”
“This research clearly shows that financial decision makers recognise that smart allocation of IT spending and resources can make a fundamental impact”, said Mark Newton, UK MD for VMware; IT as a power for “positive organisational change” rather than “a drain on resources.”
I wondered where they were going with all this and it didn’t take long to find out: The Cloud. Where else?
“By simplifying IT and accelerating the transition to cloud computing… the public sector has a real opportunity to lead the way in achieving major transformational benefits”, continued Newton. “Cloud computing is an enabler for shared services, and as this model is increasingly adopted, the role IT will play in the delivery of vital public sector services will become even more crucial.”
Also in attendance, Roger Bearpark, Assistant Head of ICT at Hillingdon Council spoke along similar lines, describing a governmental move into the cloud as making “perfect sense” with the potential to “save billions in IT costs.”
Can and will the public sector really look to cloud computing to blaze the necessary £2.6 billion cost-cutting trail? In reality it has little option.
Equally important, if there were any lingering doubt about the cloud’s long-term viability, marketability, and staying power, indications are that they’re about to be swept away once and for all.
The public sector’s loss could quite literally become the cloud provider’s gain.