I’ve already written about tablet devices appearing like a plague across organisations, and the mild panic induced amongst InfoSec Officers as a result. Much like the rise of web access or giving staff email, I’ve come to the conclusion you can take one of three approaches:
One – assume that people are bad and will abuse whatever you give them, so don’t give them anything
Two – offer partial access to those that immediately need it
Three – assume that if you give it to a few, you will end up giving it to everyone anyway, so do point two, but prepare for mass adoption eventually
Point one has some merit, but rather smacks of missing the point (and is a bit grumpy to boot). Point two is a typical approach, but clearly point three is the sanest, and will hold off the need to have your grey touched up for a little longer. The evidence of web and email adoption is the increase in productivity driven by their implementation, albeit at the cost of some general messing about by staff. The difference between then and now is that with email and web, people typically got it before they had it at home, whereas this time around business is the late adopter of such technologies.
In my previous blog, I wrote about the presentations at the SOCITM West Midlands November session. The first on Open Data demonstrated what can be done with a small pile of cash and huge amount of innovation. The second was the very first example of a genuine business case for tablets and/or i-pads I have heard.
The presentation was given by the rather enigmatic David Jones, CIO of the Crown Prosecution Service. His business issue is that legal teams in court have traditionally carried papers in huge volumes. Not only is lugging this stuff about a pain for legal teams, it’s also not very green, and represents something of a security risk. Given the reports over the last 12 months or so about photographers catching legal details when snapping the great and the good carrying papers (Danny Alexander being snapped carrying CSR documentation the day before it was announced being the most recent example), considering technology as a solution makes sense. David explained that laptops are not ideal, but something that has a user interface that allows lawyers to ‘swish’ through documentation or turn and present the documents in a natural fashion for court attendees to view has immense value. His point was that the user interface is key here, and that i-pads are the things that most people are familiar with and actually do the job perfectly.
To my mind, David’s core point was that we should be measuring outcomes properly. Yes, we absolutely need to manage costs, and we absolutely need to be managing efficiencies. But costs are spread across a whole organisation, not just an IT Department. The implication of his programme is a more secure, more efficient court service and this use of technology is driving it. This and the Warwickshire County Council (WCC) open data project is post-CSR innovation through technology at its best. Ignore the technology, focus on the issues at the heart of the problem and work backwards. Be it low key and low cost like WCC, or more high profile like the CPS project, both projects reduce costs and improve operational efficiency across an organisation. They change and improve democratic processes and should be celebrated as such, not just act as examples of using new technology to reduce costs.
And the best bit about the experience of both projects is that because they are being driven from IT, because of the nature of the data that is being handled, IA and security can be baked into the core of the delivery. So perhaps the message is, find the changes that can made that fit the political change going on or improve democratic access to information and work backwards. You may be surprised at what conclusions you arrive at.