I am UK Operating Officer of TechnologyOne, an Australian-headquartered company that is one of that country's strongest IT success stories. What we offer the market is a set of enterprise level services and applications that if you like could be classed as 'ERP' - though that's strictly speaking, as far as we are concerned, really a term most appropriate to the manufacturing context. In any case, companies and public sector organisations alike come to us to get access to functionality around HR, Finance, Payroll, Property Management and a host of others. We talk to the market less in terms of back office than what we see emerging as more of a 'surround office.' We also pride ourselves on both our technology and our commitment to continually improve that technology, via our annual 20%/£100m investment into research and development, which lets us refresh the whole stack from top to bottom every seven years. In terms of UK users, we'd name people like Scottish Fire and Rescue, Aylesbury District Council and the University of Hertfordshire as key engagements.
We are a true cloud company. That means we don't offer anything less - what we call 'dirty hosting.' We are fully architected to deliver cloud, which only a minority of the suppliers can claim to really do - like Oracle and Salesforce, very few others, really.
Simple: you can't really get the benefits out of cloud unless it's really cloud, designed to be that, from the ground up. Otherwise, it's really bureau or timeshare. We offer real Platform as a Service, PaaS, for the clients who need it. That translates to true scalability, up and down... if you're a Uni, you really only need to turn on the infrastructure at two times as year, for example, enrollment and exams. With a true cloud system like ours, you can really do that - with other approaches, you're paying for stuff you aren't using the rest of the year.
Users have got to work out where the real ROI is, under such circumstances. They have got to be as smart and efficient as they can in terms of resources and what it takes to keep the systems fed and watered - which will be as low an overhead as possible. The market needs to align itself to the way people really work, too - it's crazy to expect a Generation Y person to work all day on their smartphone then log in to a terminal at work, just won't work.
Francis Maude's idea of shared services as the 'answer' just hasn't delivered. It was a nice idea - one big back office for all of government - but it really hasn't happened, one size just can't fit all the needs, for central government alone let alone wider than that. So we need to create useful partnerships, I think, all over the place, with smart partners who can really offer you advice and insight that will make the difference. That's the way we will get through austerity - and deliver the level of public services people expect and need.
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