Local government has mastered the art of bridging the communication gap between IT and business staff, according to public sector IT managers' association Socitm.
For years, there has been talk in the industry of how IT could be included more deeply in business decisions to make procurement easier and corporations more efficient.
A combination of the government's public sector squeeze and calls for increased transparency has pressured local government into being a forerunner in achieving IT and business alignment, a Socitm IT Trends report has said.
"Now IT matters. It is no longer just about keeping the lights on," said Roger Marshall, chairman of the Socitm IT Trends board, at a launch event for the report in London today.
The annual IT Trends report was based on a survey of 520 local service organisations. Report editor John Serle suggested that local government IT and business staff have been forced to communicate better in recent months to discuss downsizing, outsourcing and new contract decisions.
Furthermore, government cost cutting and ensuing calls for a 'Big Society' mean that all councils are focused on how they can use IT to deliver services on a self-service basis.
"Businesses are actually now interested in getting ICT involved in decisions, " said Serle. "They realise it's the only way they can provide self-services."
Serle added that IT and business alignment has meant that local government now considers more providers when procuring technology equipment, and has seen savings of to 30 per cent as a result.
"For the first time things have changed and local services are considering new ways of sourcing their ICT," he said.
"People are looking at more providers because they want to change what they do. HP and Dell became very monopolistic in our market, but this trend is being broken."
Serle explained that ICT has emerged stronger and fitter, and is enabling organisations to achieve transformation.
"ICT functions are now becoming involved in service planning and are seen as fundamental in service development, rather than just focusing on the utility end," he said.
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