Time for the public sector to embrace cloud

Insight from Capita IT Enterprise Services about the role of cloud in health & government organisations. Part of the Sunday Telegraph eGovernment Supplement.

Financial challenges have been endured across the public sector for some time. These have forced some organisations to be more radical and think the previously unthinkable. When forced into saving money, you look for interesting and radical solutions that change the way you do business, rather than cut into muscle.

As many reach the point where their IT infrastructure needs a large investment they realise that IT is not their core business purpose, but the business of delivering citizen services is. At this point organisations such as Capita have the solution because they have already made many of these investments so NHS Trusts, as well as other government organisations, are saved the upfront capital expenditure.

One way to save money has been to firstly put back-office IT functions online and, increasingly, add front-end services such as renewing parking permits, library books and council tax. While some parts of the public sector are reaping the benefits of cloud, others have yet to take this step.

Many who have embraced cloud have actually seen customer satisfaction increase through online service delivery because everybody has become so used to buying things online that we want the same thing from public services. So, cloud is delivering this nirvana of saving money and delivering better services.

Other public sector organisations, for reasons of culture and security, have been much more challenged in adopting cloud technology.  Capita envisage that we’ll start to see an increased pace, in the health sector for example, over the coming years to take advantage of technology and services which will have a major impact on delivering better patient services.

To enable this next step Capita offers two cloud-based solutions: Capita Private Cloud, which provides secure, UK-based storage removing concerns around sensitive data going offshore. Delivered via this secure cloud is Capita Productivity Hub that offers Microsoft tools such as Exchange, Lync and SharePoint integrated with the standard Microsoft Office suite.

Storing sensitive patient or citizen data on a secure, UK cloud, rather than on physical files or in a less secure on site data room, overcomes the security and sovereignty issue. It is not only more secure but it allows greater agility and mobility.  Capita ensures 24/7 services, providing peace of mind to its users that their data is protected.

The cloud also means software is always up-to-date, while server space can be bought on a ‘pay-as-you-use’ basis. This has huge implications for the way health and government meet capacity demands such as clinical research projects, seasonal issues or council tax periods because cloud provides more, or less, capacity when it’s needed.

Cloud will become the norm. It will be the way of working and, as cloud services mature, we will see more mission-critical functions being hosted on the cloud.

Business managers and IT directors must grasp this opportunity and work collaboratively to transform the way services are delivered. Far from relinquishing control, letting a specialist provider manage an organisation’s IT infrastructure can be a critical step in freeing up funds and management time to focus on the core business purpose – delivering cost effective services to citizens and stakeholders.

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