About the Author

Ken Cole
SPS Consultancy

Ken Cole has worked in senior positions in both the public and private sectors and was one of the founding Directors of SPS in 2001. He recently completed a three year secondment as Director of the London Centre of Excellence. Ken has thrilled many public and private audiences with his incisive analysis, robust delivery and his belief in 'telling it as it is'. His blog is a regular commentary of the improvement and efficiency agenda.

Make sure you pay a frequent visit to find out Ken's latest thoughts on the workings of government, the latest policy initiatives and much more...

Recent Blog Posts...

Hijacking Procurement
Ken Cole
Mar 25, 2013
Mr Pickles uses the 'P word'.
Ken Cole
Mar 07, 2013
Haringey Leads London
Ken Cole
Feb 14, 2013
Time to rethink Supplier Evaluation
Ken Cole
Aug 30, 2012
Smoke and Mirrors in Whitehall!
Ken Cole
Jul 12, 2012
Collaboration at its best
Ken Cole
May 25, 2012
Latest Procurement Card Scare
Ken Cole
Mar 21, 2012
iESE - a model for a Big Society?
Ken Cole
Mar 06, 2012
I wandered lonely as a Cloud
Ken Cole
Feb 03, 2012

What is it about IT?

Jul 25, 2008

It is very rare for a week to go by without a report of yet another IT disaster that has occurred or is about to occur. Cost and time overruns, not delivering any benefits or creating new bureaucracy instead of removing it - I could go on and on and on.... Of course this occurs in both the public and private sectors; the only difference being is that the latter has to own up whereas the former buries the information in  Appendix Z of the Annual Report!!

However, there is one thing that does appear to differentiate the sectors, namely costs paid to contractors. An increasing number of IT companies rely on public sector sales to maintain their profit margins, indeed, in 2006, Dell went as far  as indicating that their poor performance in one quarter was down to the lower UKpublic sector spending, as "usually the UK public sector is very profitable for us". As an aside the UK public sector usually accounts for about 10% of Dell's EMEA turnover.


So why is it that the UK public sector appears to be paying IT companies more than their private sector counterparts? The reasons are quite varied and are covered in part in the paper that I co-wrote with Alex Ranson in 2006Leveraging IT Expenditure which you can down load here. However, I think much of it is increasingly to do with market conditioning and the need to have new technology rather than exploit what is already there. IT is increasingly becoming like a fashion accessory where people must have the latest features, market leaders and brands.

Perhaps it is summarised by a meeting that I was involved in over ten years ago in a very small public sector organisation. The IT Director was lamenting the fact that SAP had not applied to bid for his new finance system (10 users) proudly advertised in the EU on Tenders Electronic Daily (TED). He seemed most put out when I told him that all he needed was a networked version of  Sage Accounting which he could easily acquire from PC World!!


13/11/2008 20:21

The NHS should get an award for every ludicrous IT decision they make...
Amanda - so you don't fancy telling us who you work for then?
09/09/2008 14:19

Multi nationals make ludicrous decisions about IT too. The one that employs me has wasted millions over the years on projects that are so obviously going to fail. It is painful to watch...
02/09/2008 10:46

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