2007 - Designing the Council of the Future.
What were we saying and what is happening today – 2009?
What were we saying?
Looking towards 2020 there are many questions that remain unanswered:
- Who will own and manage local authority ICT?
- How much will technology cost?
- Who will be the predominant supplier of software? Microsoft, Apple, Google, Open Source, or even you.
- Will your organisation still exist as we currently know it? Bricks and mortar may no longer be required?
… Every authority will likely maintain their own email servers. Privacy and security suggested that it was better to operate your own system than to trust this to a third-party supplier. In the early days, email required expertise in order to install and maintain the exchanges…. Email is business critical, but it is equally a commodity item… Yahoo and Google Mail maintain millions of global users each day. They no longer restrict their email storage space, and in fact incrementally increase this every second of every day. With this in mind we would be right to ask why one organisation must maintain its own email system and the costs associated with it. Can Google or Yahoo Mail do this more effectively than our own organisation?
So, maybe we all move to something like Google mail? They maintain our alias – firstname.lastname@example.org, and the authority maintains a light contractual agreement. If this is unrealistic, perhaps we can think about procuring Google or Yahoo’s email technologies and share these across a number of authorities, if not all 400. If it is possible to support millions of home users across the globe, then we can’t be too many steps towards supporting one system across 400 or more local authorities, and imagine the cost savings that could be brought upon from just this simple example.
What is happening today?
On the 5th Aug 2009 the official Google blog posted ‘The Fighting Irish: A Google Apps Education Success Story‘. Google cites a number of Universities that have successfully shifted their email and document management systems to Google. User satisfaction is significantly improved but more importantly money is saved. Rather a lot of money in fact. In one particular school up to £1 million. This is perhaps a first step towards Edupunk (another interesting story), but I suspect it won’t be much longer until this service is offered to government departments – as we predicted.
If so, let’s run some easy numbers.
- A University of 15,000 members saves £1 million.
- UK local government is made up of 410 local authorities.
- The largest (Birmingham) local authority has around 50,000 employees.
- The smallest (Isles of Scilly) local authority has around 270 employees.
- A simple median is 25,135 employees for each authority.
- That is a saving of circa £1.6 million per authority.
- Overall this a saving of almost £700 million or £0.7 billion for UK government.
- That is three new hospitals.
- Around 80 new primary schools.
- Or possibly 113 million lives saved (children vaccinated against Malaria in South Africa, for example).
Headlines could soon be reading “What price email? Local government to save £0.7 billion by 2010″. Privacy and security concerns will naturally be raised. This is an important debate, but for me a concern that is based more on control than genuine concerns over privacy. It is not like government has a great track record of keeping data private, see here, here, and here. Google, yahoo or similar probably has better technology, stricter policy and more to loose by breaching privacy.
It is also a great step in reducing the chasm that currently exists between technologies we use in the workplace and the technologies we now use at home. The corporate desktop with outdated software looks almost archaic compared to the very brilliant mix of mobile apps, global networking, web conferencing and wiki pages maintained in the mainstream web environment. Email might be the first to go, but let’s not weap its loss. Let us embrace the freedom and get on with creating, building and delivering. That is where the fun is.