“On the nose, the wine is intense and incisive as well as complex. Fruit notes and roast, toasted and spicy aromas succeed each other and mingle, creating a bouquet evoking a certain restraint. On the palate the sensation is one of remarkable freshness, structured, full and powerful. The finish is impressive, reminiscent of elegance, persistent vigour, with nuances of smoked wood and peppery vanilla.”
Last week the NAO published a review of the Government Gateway, direct.gov and businesslink in terms of costs and, particularly, benefits. They, sadly, didn’t get very far with the latter and, indeed, there were some gaps with the former. In OGC Gateway Review terms, this would be a Gate 5 – typically carried out about a year after project completion and focused on assessing whether the project had met its targets.
Well, better late than never – the Gateway will be 12 in a month, businesslink and direct.gov will be 11 and 9 respectively (though direct.gov’s precursor, ukonline, was launched a little before the Gateway at the end of 2000).
I’m not surprised that pinning down benefits (and even costs) was so challenging. I suspect if Jeff Bezos had been asked to give 5 year numbers for revenue and profits when Amazon IPOd in 1995, he wouldn’t have had a clue. A few years later, we didn’t have a clue either – though we tried to get there at every stage of our evolution both because we initially had to bid for money from HMT, we needed to produce both cost and benefit numbers and because we really wanted to show that reuse of assets was an obvious and necessary step.
In the business plan for the e-Delivery team I laid out some of the expected benefits (of ukonline and the gateway), at least in words:
– Substantial savings in departmental running costs as more transactional services are delivered
– Reduction of fraud
– Savings from reduced print, production and postage costs
– Cost of delivery by leveraging central infrastructure likely to be 25-35% of silo-based implementation
– Aggregation of marketing budgets should result in faster pay-off on investment
– Joined up processes will reduce overhead throughout government
View more presentations from Alan Mather.
A UK Perspective
government deals with its people?
made was to computerise. But since then,
what has been achieved? During this time
we have seen corporations centralise and decentralise. We have seen boom and bust several times
over. We have seen new
technologies. We have seen fashions
come and go. We have seen the rise of
the PC, of the Internet and, especially here, the mobile phone.
governments may well go away. Web sites
alone are not enough, nor are transactions.
our citizens. A new vision of Government
is called for.
Importance of Vision
Designed by Christopher Wren, the vision that he had was for a landmark
to be seen from all over London – capped by a magnificent dome. During the years he spent designing and the
35 years it took to build, his vision never wavered. Your vision must hold true in just the same
way. Because it is hard to realise great
things, and there are many barriers to overcome.
more than 300 years ago St Paul’s is still unique. There
are many parallels with the building of St. Paul’s and today’s projects in
project sponsor had other ideas. The design was rejected by the King
he had a final design, he knew that he did not yet fully understand how to build it – there were no other great domes in the UK and, although
he had toured France and Italy, he had not seen someone actually build
such a dome.
was tight – new taxes were needed to pay for it
clergy (his customers) were not supporting him (they wanted something
smaller and much sooner)
hard to realise – many stakeholders with different ideas, problems over funding
and issues with how you are going to make it happen.
- As a
project manager and the architect, Christopher Wren was held directly
accountable for money spent, progress made, workers rights, accidents and
of his salary was to be deferred until completion (remember, no cathedral
had ever been finished in the lifetime of the architect)
tried to keep his final plan covered until the last minute so that it
would be a surprise for all of London.
No beta testing for Wren.
thought about problems ahead of time and tried to solve them, but still
had to react to difficult day to day circumstances – knocking down the
foundations of the old cathedral using gun powder, dealing with poor
quality stone, workers strikes at the quarry and so on.
projects faces the modern equivalents.
Are you facing up to the barriers and knocking them down?
create a vision of what Government could look like
and far enough away to challenge us greatly
benefits soon, without compromising the greater goals.
out how we get there – the bridge to the vision
The UK e-Government Vision
100% online by 2005
Be citizen focused
Be Joined Up
vision for e-government. Like all good
visions, it’s far enough away to give you time, it’s highly challenging, it’s
hard to think about what it might mean and initially, you have absolutely no
idea how to start. I think we can relate
this to Kennedy’s vision back in the 60s – put a man on the moon, by the end of
the decade, bring him back alive. For
the UK it means huge change, it means breaking down the walls between the
different departments, it means changing more than 400 years of history.
has already achieved it. We must solve
the big problems as they come and see what benefits can be realised.
UK. Some 55% of the country access it
regularly; nearly all of our businesses have some presence on the
Internet. In Government terms, we have
made some progress and see, in some cases, up to 5% of people using Internet
services to, for instance, pay their tax or access local government services.
no desire to use the Internet, they don’t know why they need to – because it
doesn’t offer them benefit.
government. Only a few hundred thousand
of those are being carried out electronically.
Reaching the 35% that don’t use the Internet is a key goal that will
help us increase this count, because it’s likely that these are the people who
have the most need of a close, fast relationship with government.
Internet, we have a difficult journey ahead of us.
Stages of e-Government
towards realising the vision. Moving between each stage brings a big
increase in risk, technology usage and also, new barriers to overcome. Now how big is your appetite for risk?
put up web sites full of the information that we used to publish on paper – in
fact, very few of us have stopped publishing anything since the Internet came. The overwhelming majority of interactions are
via letter or telephone.
where you can conduct an entire relationship online. This is more than amazon.com – you can buy
some music tracks or books online and use them without ever touching what you
being delivered through the post. The
interesting thing is that government can probably get here faster than
corporations because we exchange mostly information with our population – vast
quantities of it. It’s really a lot of numbers and letters.
physical. If you could look it up
wherever you were and prove that you were the person listed, why would you need
a copy? If the tax people check with
your employer, your bank and your broker how much you had made – why would you
need to be involved?
transformation. I think only a few
companies are here- dell, maybe, who – thanks to the dynamism and thinking of
their ceo – are at the forefront of business in the Internet world. In the world of government this would be
represented by simple rules, benefits in the hands of the people that need
them, lower taxation, better investment in public services and so on.
Government, is how to get people to stop thinking about how it is (after all,
it’s probably been that way for decades), but how it could be.
out; our customers don’t know what it will look like either. This piece of the vision will only become
clear as we overcome the barriers and move between the stages.
Barriers To Realising The Vision
solve. We have had PCs now for 20 years;
mainframes for longer. We should be able
to deal with scale, accessibility, robust service delivery and security. Unfortunately we are not there yet. There is much work to be done in all of these
areas before we can rely on the technology we have to be there when it’s needed
and be usable by anyone, protect itself from intrusion and deal with the
massive volumes of information that it will need to.
that the person interacting with you is who they say they are. Digital certificates, smart cards, single
identification numbers and so on are all part of this debate. In the offline world, you are often asked for
a secret word, perhaps your mother’s maiden name – but that is far from strong
enough to work in the world of the Internet.
barriers on the right. We must overcome
government’s history of poor delivery, improve the speed of delivery by
overcoming the inertia that prevents change, resolve privacy issues that often
prevent data being exchanged, do all this without increasing the cost of
running our countries. And finally, to
make it all worthwhile, everyone has to actually use the services that we
offer. Few countries have made dramatic
breakthroughs here – percentages of use are often less than 10%, even in the
most advanced countries. More people
bank online and shop online than use government services online.
talent. How do you find the people that
will do this for you, how do you attract them to government and how do you keep
them there. Personally, there is nowhere
else I would rather be. Every challenge
is bigger here. Success redefines how a
nation is governed. What greater reward
can there be than that.
a champion. This must be someone
reporting at the very top, surrounded by a team of capable people. In the UK, our e-envoy reports directly
to the Prime Minister. Your
champion must have ownership, either directly or through dual key, all of
the funding that relates to internet projects. If not, projects will be duplicated
throughout government, you will all attempt to break through all of the
barriers – yet you will do it in different ways, at high cost, and two or
three years from now you will be unable to bring it all back together.
duplication can be eased by defining some simple standards. In the UK, early on our technology
strategy team defined some standards called e-GIF – these standards
explain how government transactions will be made available.
up is picking your partners. Much
of what we are trying to do is new, few partners have done this before and
even fewer with great success. They
will learn with you, so you must feel comfortable with them. It cannot be a purely contractual relationship
because these partners are going to shape how your people deal with you in
with your partners, you can build a plan.
The first few months can be detailed, later on will be less clear –
but you need to be sure that everything you are doing lines up with the
vision. I’ll talk about two of the
key components of our plan next.
it’s our campaign to get the whole of the UK using the Internet. Here though we have tried to present a simple
environment that allows the user to search across government for specific items
that they want – but we have also linked some important things together, as
Life Episodes – for instance, Having a baby provides content from a variety of
sources so that all aspects of such a major event can be researched and
someone sends an item (such as a tax form) to government or requests something
(like a tax statement), it is the gateway that decides if the person is
eligible to do that. The Gateway, built
on Microsoft products, such as Biztalk, takes in XML defined by the e-GIF
standard that I talked about earlier. It translates the XML and sends it to the
right department, providing a receipt to the person who sent it.
whole picture. This also shows the major
developments that we plan to make:
will aggregate more and more government content into a single environment
so that we can manage it and index it better. We can then personalise the view of
government that anyone looking at the site has – for instance, if a 16
year old boy visits he may be wondering about what he should do next at
school, thinking about getting a job, perhaps he is wondering about
travelling around the world and so on.
With a little data about the person, we can present a huge range of
content to them along with the transactions that go with that. So we are moving away from life episodes
to “life styles” – not thinking about what we think someone will want to
do at a certain point in their life, but letting who they are and what
they are thinking about drive the content we show them.
Size Never Fits All. One size fits
one. Only one. So you have to personalise the experience completely to
really make a difference.
will also partner with commercial companies, letting them use our content
too so that they can wrap additional services around it, adding further value. For instance, a bank may wrap a suite of
financial services around a tax transaction offering ways to reduce the
of the transactions that we offer will route through the Government
Gateway. Let me give a few examples.
Right now, we are doing single transactions to single
departments. So, a small business
using their accountancy software can send in their end of year payroll
data direct to government and get a receipt on delivery. Many packages already support this
facility. Or a small trader can
send in their quarterly VAT return, using a government web site or that
from a 3rd party.
the real value comes, is when we join up services; something you cannot do
with paper transactions. So, if you
wanted to know how much your pension would be when you retire, coupled
with how much your private pension would give you, then someone, say the
prudential, could offer that service, tapping into their own databases as
well as those of the inland revenue and the DSS to get the right data. Or if you were just coming back to the
country from a spell abroad, then the transaction is “please update
records to show that I am back” – tax, local doctor, electoral roll etc.
Our job is to hide the complexity of government.
government interacts with its citizens.
In truth, government is only an occasional partner of any one person –
but to really add value and to realise the transformation that we want, we will
have to move up this curve. This will
entail changes to how things work. For
instance, if we knew enough about someone, could we actually prompt transactions
rather than wait for them to arrive? For
government to transform, the interactions must occur where the people are –
where they are doing their banking online, buying books, using an internet café
and so on.
to improve the citizens experience. At
the same time, we will break down more of the barriers, increasing the number
of people who can access our services.
We will bring in new functions such as voting. Gradually, we will move through the remaining
stages I talked about earlier and transform Government.
• Bring fragmented government together
• Drive real change within government
• Strengthen commercial partnerships
• Broadband roll-out nationwide
• One billion pounds committed
challenges that we face over the next four years as we realize our vision are
around the problems of breaking down the silos of government departments so
that we can drive real change and make a difference. We will strengthen our existing commercial
partnerships and add further.
biggest challenge remaining and one that I know you are dealing with here in
Japan is the roll-out across the nation of a broadband network. For a long time now there has been a debate
over broadband – why is there not more demand, why is no-one creating content
for it. This will be solved by creating
the network. We expect this to be a
significant enabler for driving change in government – enabling fast exchange
of data between us and citizens.
• True partnerships (suppliers and
• Wide experience for project boards
• Fast delivery needs fast decisions
• Start practicing now for hi-scale
• Expect failure – manage your
– Ready. Aim. Miss. Reload.
the project and make sure that the team had a clear requirement. Include people on the team from the various
departments acting as early adopters and from suppliers and customers. Then set them loose to deliver. No more can
the business lob a set of requirements over a wall to the IT department and
wait for the explosion. Everyone works
together in a true team to address issues, confront problems and ensure
timescales – in this case to meet the end of year filing deadlines. You and your partners need to work closer
together than ever before; there needs to be mutual trust. The strength of your
partner and the way you work with them is directly proportional to probability
oversee your projects, from within and without the company. Put your suppliers
on the project board so that they can be held accountable. Open your books to them and share
experiences. Meet regularly and show
them (and I mean show – with live demos) what you have done; get feedback and
act on it.
you’re issued with a new watch – it only has 4 times on it; and I don’t mean 3,
6, 9, 12 o’clock, I mean spring, summer, autumn and winter. In government
Feasibility studies for instance were often to be completed by the autumn,
project teams would be up to speed by the spring. The process has changed now; decisions are taken
based on information available; reviewed on a conference call, as often as
every day at critical stages; and the decision is changed if it is not working.
transactions per year. That’s 400 per
second, every second of the day, week, month and year. That will mark a big change in how your
projects, nuture them, grow them, but when they go wrong, kill them off quickly
government deals with its people?
From “The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions” by Ralf R. Meisenzahl and Joel Mokyr, August 2010:
A Swiss visitor, César de Saussure noticed in 1727 that “English workmen are everywhere renowned, and justly. They work to perfection, and though not inventive, are capable of improving and of finishing most admirably what the French and Germans have invented” (de Saussure, [c. 1727], 1902, p. 218, letter dated May 29, 1727). Josiah Tucker, a keen contemporary observer, pointed out in 1758 that “the Number of Workmen [in Britain] and their greater Experience excite the higher Emulation, and cause them to excel the Mechanics of other Countries in these Sorts of Manufactures” (Tucker, 1758, p. 26). The French political economist Jean-Baptiste Say noted in 1803 that “the enormous wealth of Britain is less owing to her own advances in scientific acquirements, high as she ranks in that department, as to the wonderful practical skills of her adventurers [entrepreneurs] in the useful application of knowledge and the superiority of her workmen” (Say , 1821, Vol. 1, pp. 32–33).
That’s clear then … only the Brits can fix the Euro.
Standing before the Virgin of the Rock (well, actually, facing one with another behind), I was quite struck by how much data Leonardo left behind. We have his finished projects (in varying states of repair), prototypes, cartoons, unfinished work and numerous clones/copies or homages by students and followers. We have enough that when we see another painting that might be Leonardo, the experts can debate for ages whether it is or isn’t, claiming various “facts” by reference to the existing body of data.
Two things flow from that for me.
Someone should write the Da Vinci guide to IT with chapters to include: practice lots first, prototype everything, freely licence your work, break projects into sensible chunks, reuse what others have done, careful with plaster, train youngsters in your work, don’t be afraid of new methodologies … And more
How much data will we leave behind, individually, for discovery 500 years from now? Much of my electronic data is already lost – on countless 5 1/4″ and 3 1/2″ discs, or on zipdrives or on machines long since destroyed at companies I’ve long since left.
But in the last few years, increasing amounts of data are stored in “free” repositories such as Facebook and Gmail. How long will they keep my data? Not so much as “on the Internet no one knows you’re a dog” but “on the Internet no one knows you’re dead”?
As data grows following an inexorable rise from petabytes through exabytes to zettabytes and whatever comes after that, what will these companies do with the data? Prune it every 20 years? Every 50? Every 100? Surely they have to at some point? Assuming they’re still around anyway.
I was toying with the idea of writing a script that would activate when I’m gone (note to self … On the Internet ….) and write a random weekly post to my blog, which is kindly hosted by google. Would they prune my data then?
Already I see the ghosts of friends who died tragically young follow me around the ‘net – “people you used to know” perhaps. As I get older and assuming I stay sane, this will doubtless become more common.
In 200 years or more, the data we all leave behind will be an interesting archaeological source for how we lived our lives, our passions and fashions, our moods, tolerances and intolerances. If it’s still there.