I’ve spent some time this week reading articles that have been written this year about public sector infosec. And guess what, they pretty much all look the same as the ones from this time last year. Advice is not in short supply. If I read the phrase ‘doing nothing is not an option’ one more time, I think I will see my lunch again. And reflecting on the myriad of conferences, seminars, press releases and goodness knows what else I’ve either attended or read this year, it seems that security in the public sector is still creaking and wobbling its way forward. And the conversations we are having with people are still the same ones as last year.
So the question is, what’s going to be different next year? The answer is, I believe, three-fold:
1. Cash. Throughout my career, I’ve had public sector IT types tell me that they are strapped for cash, that Gershon is biting, and yet somehow between us we’ve always managed to craft something that works and is affordable. I don’t see this changing, since on both sides of the fence are resourceful people, and generally we can find a way forward. The difference is that in 2011, it’s going to require tenacity and genuine innovation to get things done. Those that survive will do so by their wits and presenting solid business cases. Cashable Savings folks: its the only game in town.
2. Politics. Much of the innovation needed, plus almost all of the budgeting and 100% of the change, will require political nous. I don’t mean on a macro scale, but at a local level. There is a clear strata emerging within the different public sectors of people who can get stuff done, and these are the people prepared to chuck out old ways of doing stuff, abandon the ‘this is how we have always done it’ mentality and start afresh. Too many examples have been related to me this year of people that have had money-saving projects blocked for insular and petty reasons, generally of the ‘no, that’s mine’ type. Well stop it please. Because, it’s going to bite you where it hurts as…
3. This is the year of back-office-merger-tastic fun*. For an example, in a recent survey, 96% of local government respondents said they had either already completed, started or were looking at merging back office (including IT functions) with another authority. Add some choice morsels of outsourcing into the equation, and you have a recipe for huge change. This change is going to wrest control from people that have been loathe to hand it over, and it’s going to be done with spreadsheets. Spreadsheets do not care how it was done before, or whether it’s you that looks after it and that you are the only person who can do it now. Guess what? It’s going to be done a different way soon and you’d better be ready.
My predictions for 2011 in a nutshell? Cash, politics and change again. Frankly I feel giddy already, and so will be using that as my excuse to sit down over Christmas and make friends with the bottled grape juice sat in my garage.
A Happy and virus-free Christmas to you all, talk to you again in 2011
*I have patented this phrase. Don’t even think about stealing it Gartner or Microsoft. I know where you live.