One trick pony?

It’s funny how you sometimes get labelled early in a cycle. Long ago I think I picked up the “man from the centre” label – you know, the “one that’s here to help you”. At a session last week with a couple of senior IT people they wondered what was coming next from Central Infrastructure – and even had a couple of ideas that could do with some research.

For the last 9 months or so I’ve been wondering how to fill in the missing piece of the puzzle in IT in government – whether that be UK government or any other government. Thinking about it, there are doubtless many corporations that have the same missing piece, although I’ve seen many that have fully nailed it.

The bit I’m talking about is the “middle of the pyramid” – the part where entities come together to collaborate on development and then have just one of something between several of them. It might mean that there are 10 across the whole of government (rather than the one that central infrastructure implies) – which is way better than the 1000 that probably exist today (or the 3,000 in website terms). The slide below hopefully explains it:

What I think is that the “centre” can facilitate the conversations that need to happen to make this a reality and can help foster the market with supplier partners who are going to do the heavy lifting. The key bit for this will also be some good, common and widely supported standards – so that, over time, convergence to fewer platforms or a swapin-swapout process could result, where aging (or failing) platforms are replaced by newer ones or stronger ones. The NHS procurement processs seems to have arrived at this as an ideal solution – with the option (I think) for entire consortia to be replaced just as easily as some components. A fascinating idea that I think has a chance at success across the wider public sector. If I’m right, then I think it plays out per the slide below:

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