“Information as a service” – Can a new approach to managing information really accelerate the pace of change?

March 25th, 2013   

by Mark Godfrey, CEO and Co-Founder of Automated Intelligence

Reports from the National Audit Office at the start of the year relayed the success of reducing ICT spend via the Government initiatives that were launched in 2011.  Also reported was the need for more focus on the delivery of ICT solutions that reform public services.  As government departments, agencies and local government bodies plan for the new financial year, discover how a new and innovative approach to delivering information management strategies is being adopted to not only reduce and control costs, but to positively impact and improve public service delivery.

Managing data can be a tricky balancing act

What is “Information as a Service”?

Usually, when we hear “as a service” we think of cloud based solutions, however “Information as a service” is when quality information is available on demand no matter where that information is held, this could be on premise, in the cloud or a hybrid of both.

For public sector organisations information and knowledge is one of the most valuable strategic assets.  In the efforts to save money, many public sector organisations are restructuring, consolidating properties and departments, introducing mobile working and reducing staff levels. All of these initiatives impact information and the way it is created, accessed and shared. Change and dispersion of the workforce puts a definite strain on the ability to locate and exploit information assets. Often the knowledge base or custodian will have left or not be readily available to ask where relevant information and corporate memory is located. By more fully analysing and understanding the content of information systems, the data of value can be extracted and delivered as a service to the individuals or teams that need it. Information anywhere is the goal, the challenge is making sure it’s the right and relevant information that is delivered and not just access to unfathomable disparate applications and repositories.

The first steps in joining the information dots are: understanding what we have; why we have it; where is the value: who needs it; how do we deliver it? In doing this, we can deliver a knowledge based information service that supports business change and actually increases the levels of service delivery for the organisation.

How does this approach achieve reduction in costs?

It is simple, just do away with the waste!  Over half of all unstructured data stored in a typical public sector organisation is redundant, has no commercial value and carries unnecessary risk.

As data volumes grow exponentially, organisations continue to hold huge amounts of unstructured data across disparate systems. These inefficiencies translate through to excessive operational costs which can run to many millions of pounds. To simplify data management and reduce costs, organisations are migrating relevant and corporately required data to a single consolidated and cleansed environment.

There has already been savings of an estimated £726 million on IT since the government’s ICT savings initiatives were announced, and there is expected to be even more by the end of the month.  Organisations have not only achieved this by cutting spend, but by spending wisely, investing in ICT projects which have really demonstrated return on investments.

Organisations we have worked with have been able to present a business case up-front for unstructured data consolidation.  By analysing and profiling unstructured data, organisations have been able to identify and quantify cost savings and efficiencies before the project is even implemented. By opting for an Opex-based commercial model with software allocated on a consumption/subscription basis, our customers have mitigated the risk of project failure since it requires no upfront capital investment to initiate the project.  They have also been able to reduce costs by removing legacy systems, redundant infrastructure, hardware, applications and associated management requirements.

Digital innovation, can it improve service delivery?

The NAO reported that there is insufficient evidence to show that the government ICT Strategy has made progress on delivering better public services.  In order for digital innovation to have a real impact, less focus needs to be on products and services and more focus on encouraging change and introducing new ways of doing things.  It takes time to educate and make this happen, before the benefits can be realised.

Over the last couple of years we have engaged with various public sector organisations to help them adopt this innovative approach to managing their information.  By automating the management process, information can be provisioned and accessed according to policy and personal data is now being transformed into corporate information.   This has promoted effective ways of working which has enhanced both user and customer experience.

Over the next year, for Government ICT to really accelerate the pace of change, more should think about information in this way and exploit cloud and mobile platforms to deliver it quickly.