Comments

  1. The way it is being done currently doesn’t work, see Tom Loosemore at SDinGov2016, “lipstick on pigs” is his view, as a founder of GDS, so the question is academic.

    Doing it correctly, i.e. realising the full potential of today’s global computing network, as per http://goo.gl/MWwm2d , is to do with technology, and economics and engineering.

    Discuss (although somehow I doubt you will)

    1. Your assumption is largely self-fulfilling and hardly suggests openness to debate.

      I am also puzzled since your argument seems strongly to support Emily’s point, rather than undermining it. You clearly believe that GDS is taking the wrong technical approach, but whatever the merits of that argument, the decisions they and others have made – explicitly and implicitly – about the technical direction to take are not themselves wholly technical. That’s not to say that technology is unimportant, but in an article about the relationships GDS has with other parts of government it seems pretty reasonable to me to make the point that those relationships and the ways that governments adapt to a a changing technical (and social and economic) landscape have to be understood and managed through more than just a technical perspective.

      1. You are correct, I support Emily’s point that digital transformation is about government departments fundamentally changing the way they operate. My point is that there is a fundamental technology shift required to support the way that they operate and that everything they do will be connected to the new technology. I am talking about technology on the scale of the National Grid rather than technology supporting the latest gadgets and gizmos.

        I thought that your choice of aphorism did a disservice to the article and perpetuated a myth regarding technology and its use in a digital transformation. In the halcyon days of GDS it had a clear objective that was focussed on publishing. It was able to collect information from a variety of sources, collate it and present it in a uniform manner using largely off the shelf technology that was easily configured. The uniformity of the service was the key to its success but it did nothing to address the underlying source of the information. As GDS moved into transactional exemplars this highlighted a disconnect between the new publishing platform and the underlying systems.

        GDS is uniquely positioned in government to lead the way towards a digital transformation that changes forever the way that citizens, departments, councils and service providers deal with each other, but there is now a real danger that they are retreating because their integration approach is doomed to fail and they will not consider an alternative.

        1. Then I think we may be agreeing more than it might first appear. The disconnect between front end and back end systems is something I recognise and was writing about back in 2008. But I think there are two questions here, not just one. One is to identify, design, build and buy the technology we need to support the tasks we want to get done. That is – at least in large measure – an engineering problem. The second is to create the conditions where the first problem can be asked and answered. That is not in itself an engineering problem at all.

          So I don’t think that my focusing on the line I quoted does any disservice to the article it comes from (though picking it out wasn’t intended as a comment on or a summary of the article in the first place). I see it as making the point that the second question is critical, not that the first is unimportant.

  2. I have just spotted that Richard Pope wrote something a few days ago which makes the connection very clearly:

    “Digital/transformation/business is not about technology it’s about design / strategy / culture” is a recurring meme. It can be a comforting thing to cling on to, and it’s probably true a lot of the time, but is also not true in some important respects.

    Technology does matter. Good digital / design / business / transformation / culture / strategy requires an understanding of the materials.

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