4 Benefits from the use of ICT
Later I will comment on the existing status of adoption of ICT but before I do that it is important to examine the specific advantages that it can bring to the public sector and public services.
4.1 Enabling Organisation-Wide Productivity and Savings
There is no doubt that efficiency and productivity have been, and remain, core elements of the justification for the pursuit and adoption of ICT solutions. This is regarded as being of prime value to those organisations providing public services and it could be argued that the automation of business and other processes through the use of ICT still represents one of the most effective ways of reducing the costs of delivering services. In that sense the adoption of ICT can be seen as an investment that delivers savings in the other costs of operating organisations.
In the context of the amount of investment, the way in which ICT is deployed is crucial. Shared deployment across organisations can spread the cost so that individual organisations spend less on ICT but still deliver their own targeted savings.
4.2 Enabling Shared Services
Shared deployment of ICT will reduce ICT cost and deliver savings in costs within individual public sector bodies. However, it can also, by being shared, provide a platform for additional efficiency and savings across multiple public bodies. The establishment of shared hosted information systems, commonly used across multiple organisations makes it very much easier to also share the resources and skills needed to operate other business processes. In this way shared ICT deployment unlocks the gate to shared services opportunities in other operations and processes.
4.3 Making Services More Effective
Another factor now even more obvious and relevant is the appreciation that the use of ICT in delivering services also benefits the recipients of those services. Whether it's because of a higher likelihood of service requests or complaints being dealt with successfully, taking less elapsed time to address concerns or most important improving the quality of the content of the service there is no doubt that public services are enhanced by ICT. And of course at points across the spectrum of public services some organisations really do rely moment by moment on ICT to preserve and save lives, deal with emergencies and maintain law and order. This needs accurate and complete information and fast data communication.
4.4 Making it Easier to Access Services
For the citizen or the business the experience of benefiting from public services is greatly enhanced by the access and engagement being made easier by ICT. The less time spent and the less complexity or difficulty encountered in requesting services then the greater the value to the citizen. In this respect having online access to all public services is crucial as is having ongoing electronic communication and status reporting.
4.5 Supporting Sustainability
All of us are likely to be committed to the pursuit of actions that will lend themselves to addressing the environmental issues facing us and future generations. The challenge is not so much about what needs to happen in the area of sustainability but more about making it happen. In this context it is again obvious that public sector bodies can make important contributions to sustainability goals through the effective use of ICT. Digital solutions such as an online transaction can be "paperless" solutions. Journeys not made thanks to the use of mobile technologies or home working or because citizens don't have to travel to a public facility all benefit our environment. And of course it's important that we ensure that the way in which we deploy and manage our ICT operations in the public sector minimises its effect on the environment in terms of energy usage and emissions as data processing equipment and supporting facilities can be significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.