Public sector ICT business has become less attractive to suppliers and austerity is hurting their business, according to the Socitm's annual IT Trends report for 2013-14.
The association for IT managers' research found that public sector IT departments are demanding shorter contracts from their suppliers and also trying to transfer more risk on to them – something that has certainly been evident in central government.
According to the report, bid teams have to make significant cases for tendering at all and suppliers have expressed disappointment that ICT managers are not taking a stronger leadership role in modernising services.
The suppliers argue that contracts largely do not allow sufficient scope and flexibility to enable innovation.
Socitm also found that ICT managers are under increasing pressure to reconfigure what they offer to their organisation and to do so at a lower cost, which is largely being driven by the consumerisation of IT and users feeling comfortable with using powerful technology.
The report claims that the changes occurring will cause even greater disruption than the transition from mainframe to PC.
Given the pressure on cost and the drive from the user base to use a variety of technologies, public sector IT functions will run a smaller estate but call on cloud-based services to meet cyclical peaks and troughs in demand. As a result, ICT managers will need to call on a broader range of skills than in the past.
Web content management, geographic information systems (GIS) and data analytics top the list of emerging technologies to exploit, according to Socitm's research. Almost 100% of respondents were planning to deploy web content management in the current year, underlining the use of digital channels to reduce the cost of transactions.
The survey also found that master data management is at the bottom of the use of technologies league table – something that Socitm describes as surprising given that duplicate datasets increase the cost of data maintenance, add to the cost of storage and can lead to different data values appearing in alternate sources.
"Service managers, who can now download apps in a few seconds that cost next to nothing from a cloud store, and are productive with them immediately, question why a new application to streamline their business will take months, and require employees to attend a training session before using it," Socitm's IT Trends author Chris Head.
"Despite this, the survey shows ICT managers to be more focused on making savings within their department than on opportunities for information technologies to make savings elsewhere in the business."