I uploaded some comments to this blog post but for some reason they are stuck in a moderation queue so I though I’d put them out here… feel free to put me straight as I am wondering whether I might not have quite understood the real sense of the post…

Stephen — I am a big fan of much of what GDS do and have done. Which I sum up as the fact that you have changed the conversation regarding users, government use of technology (and its supply chain) and modern business models. That may sound trivial to some but when I was a Civil Servant things were so bad on all those fronts that the GDS era is an unbelievable achievement. But… this does bother me. You are talking in this post about tools that are easily available (in fact you already have some of them) to any organisation. I am not aware of even the biggest digital poster children — Uber, Netflix — building this kind of stuff for themselves — its such a commodity. I get the point about pulling data together across depts and the giving people the tools but with the right platforms you can do this anyway — either with configurations, APIs, pre built integrations and plug ins or just links if its not worth it. What do I run this aspect of my business on? — timesheet, expenses, pipeline etc — Salesforce/1000 feet. Document management, doc workflow rules etc Box.com, …


Don’t know why this bothers me so much but anyway. Have you ever really thought about the word “unexpected”? I realised tonight in WHSmith at Waterloo that its one of the most abused words in the English language.

“Really bad news a friend of mine died last week”

“Oh no that’s terrible, was it expected?”

“No, completely unexpected”

“Did you see the match last night”

“No, what happened?”

“Arsenal were beaten 6–0 by a non league side”

“Wow that’s unexpected”

“How was the operation?”

“I’m ok but there were some unexpected complications”

“Oh no are they serious?”

“Are we on schedule for completion of the bridge?” …


There has been so much progress in the last 5 or so years around the whole topic of Digital and Government services. Agile, users needs, open document formats, a disagregated supply chain and lots more.

But one aspect of Government and technology still leaves me baffled. All the available evidence and anecdotes suggest that one of the differentiators of organisations that flourish in the Digital Economy is speed. Speed to ship, speed to market, speed to meet new customer requirements, speed to react to events speed to learn through doing not theorising etc. etc.

And in order to to move fast you need to use the right sort of technology platforms, and in most cases those platforms are going to be public cloud platforms. Whether it is to spin up new services on AWS and Azure or to manage customer relationships in Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics Online or to allow the workforce to share unstructured data easily in Box, Dropbox or Google — the speed required to thrive in the Digital Economy can’t be acheived on either legacy software or through building everything, bespoke from the ground up locally (although there is a place for that too). …

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JAMES HERBERT

All views are those of my employer, I just say what I'm told to. Technology, entrepreneur and bizness stuff an' that.

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