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Local authorities looking to embrace e-government are urged to take on ...
Local authorities looking to embrace e-government are urged to take on

board a 'compelling list of learning points' from the experience of Cisco

Systems, a private sector company which has fully embraced the new business

model of the internet economy.

This is the central message of 'Local e-government: Learning From the Best',

the latest report from the Society of Information Technology Management's

Insight service.

The report says local government is facing an unprecedented challenge in

meeting rising customer expectations through the use of technology as well

as the radical changes central government expects as the outcome of its

e-government and best value policies.

It goes on to suggest that local authorities could learn much about how to

meet such challenges from the experience of a company like Cisco Systems.

Cisco has been chosen as 'best in class' from a number of internet enabled

companies, and is cited as a organisation which has built a phenomenally

successful business by exploiting internet technology and, equally

important, empowering its employees. By learning from such an

organisation, local authorities would be following government policy which

requires them to compare the way they work with the best of private sector.

While at first glance local government and a£5.3bn global business like

Cisco might seem poles apart in the ways in which they use technology,

beneath the surface things are not quite so different, says the report. In

fact there are many clear similarities and it is possible to draw out a

number of lessons for local authorities that are immediately transferable.

Taken together, these lessons form a whole new way of working, and can be

summarized under ten headings:

- Customer service - organise around the needs of customers

- Processes - develop the most efficient processes around the

customer needs

- Empowerment - empower employees in the way they carry out their


- Information - invest in its information and exploit this at every


- Intranet - use the intranet as the only way of conducting business

- E-learning - embrace the potential of e-learning amongst employees

by developing and sharing knowledge.

- Business case - use broad-based return on investment models

- ICT infrastructure - manage ICT infrastructure as a major asset

- Standardisation - enforce ICT standards across the organization

- Governance of ICT - review the whole way in which ICT is managed

and organised from the top

The report analyses these lessons in some details, converting them into a

set of practical actions any local authority or other public sector organisation could start to implement now. For each lesson, the report presents:

- the context in which public sector organisations now operate

- the approach taken by Cisco Systems

- what can be learned for the development of local e-government

Finally, the report anticipates the cynic's point that like many other

internet companies Cisco has suffered setbacks in recent months requiring

it to make redundancies and other cutbacks. It points out that Cisco has

in fact been able to react quickly to changing market conditions and take

corrective action faster than its competitors, thanks to having made the

sort of improvements to its business which are the subject of the report.

* Socitm Insight subscribers can download copies of the 60pp report and the

4pp Executive Briefing here

* Non-subscribers can order copies of the report (price£99) and the Executive Briefing (free of charge) from the Socitm office on 01604 674800 or here.


- Socitm Insight (formerly known as MAPIT) is a subscription service

which identifies and disseminates good ICT management practice in local

government. It publishes a comprehensive range of reports and guides on

all the major ICT themes linked to the critical issues of the day,

providing valuable advice and support for ICT practitioners. More than 400

local authorites and other public sector organisations subscribe to the


- Socitm is an association of ICT professionals working in and for

local authorities and other public sector bodies. It is a leading

authority on the effective application of ICT in local government, and

provides information and advice through a growing programme of research,

publications, conferences, training, and consultancy.

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