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Successful legacy to digital switchovers must overcome employee resistance to change and procurement and contract delays, says expert

Organisations must obtain the "buy-in" of employees and avoid delays that can arise in the procurement and delivery of new technology to make transformational IT projects work successfully, an expert has said.11 Feb 2014

TMT specialist Clive Seddon of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that the consumerisation of technology means that employees are more adaptable than ever to dealing with technological changes in their working environment. However, a number of significant challenges remain which organisations need to overcome to ensure the successful roll out of new digital technology and a move away from legacy systems.

"Because most people are used to using the latest technology in their daily lives there are opportunities available now for a faster roll out of technology to support employees, provided that the procurement and contractual regimes allow that to happen," Seddon said.

"Most people want to embrace technology and see it as a part of the way the world is going. They want to keep up", he said. "The danger in public procurements and lengthy contractual negotiations is that it can take quite a long time to move from the concept of introducing new technology to delivery. If it's too slow then there is a risk that the technology, when eventually implemented, is already outdated. The pace of technology change over the past few years has been dramatic and therefore can make the problem more acute."

He said that compliance with EU procurement rules means that public sector organisations face a challenge in delivering technological changes quickly. He also said that organisations of all types can also face difficulty in obtaining the step-change in technology they desire where they are "locked in" to long term contracts with suppliers.

Seddon said that although organisations are no longer broadly dealing with "a sceptical and resistant workforce" due to their familiarity with the latest consumer technology, organisations may still have a job to do to convince some employees about changes technology will have on the way they work. The current strikes by the London Underground ticket office workers are perhaps an example of this, he added. He said that pilot schemes, "strong engagement with users from the outset" and proper management of expectations will help smooth the process.

The expert was commenting after the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) announced it will be undertaking a £200 million upgrade to its legacy ICT portfolio. A new technology strategy announced by the MPS will help cut crime rates, improve the interaction with the public and reduce the costs of policing.  The MPS said that it spends 80% of its technology budget on supporting existing "legacy systems" and that just 20% is therefore "invested in new, modern and agile solutions". It has outlined plans to use more mobile devices in policing and utilise other technology to make it easier for its officers and staff to "investigate crime and support victims" and to improve the efficiency of their work.

In particular the MPS said it will enable officers to access an "MPS Apps store" for "publically available applications" and allow them to take electronic statements, report crimes on their mobile devices, as well as capture evidence through digital photographs, thus replicating consumer practice with mobile devices. The MPS said it was also considering fitting camera equipment to officers' bodies to improve evidence-gathering too.

"Mobilising our officers will enable them to spend more time with the public and less time in the office, thus supporting the goals of the One Met Model for high quality local policing services and building confidence with those we serve," the MPS' technology strategy (18-page / 3.91MB PDF) said. "Future ICT must adhere to design methodologies and standards that enable services to be delivered to the multiple range of current and future mobile devices, thereby reducing dependency on any particular solution."

The MPS wants to replace its "ageing core policing systems" with newer technology and seek to better manage the data it collects to allow for improved "exploitation via analytics". It also said that it would consider cloud solutions within its IT infrastructure "where appropriate, to reduce costs and provide robust scalability".

The MPS identified a number of objectives it will be looking for suppliers to fulfil when providing them with ICT services in the coming years. It has principally identified the need for improved performance, flexibility and agility from its IT portfolio. "Speed to market, innovation and service standardisation" will also be important, it said. It anticipates being able to save £60m a year from its IT budget as a result of "more agile contracts" with technology providers and said that its "mobility project" will help deliver the "equivalent of an additional 900 officers" by allowing existing police staff to work more efficiently.

Delivering the strategy will happen over the next three years, it said.

"We are going to use technology to stop crime, arrest offenders or help victims," MPS Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "We need to keep police officers out of police stations and reduce bureaucracy. Digital policing will help us to do this."

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