#DIF13 – Irish Govt CIO suggests a mobile-led digital strategy (videos)

20 Sep 2013

Bill McCluggage, the Irish Government's CIO, delivers his keynote address at the Digital Ireland Forum: Global 2.0 event at the Convention Centre Dublin. Photo by Conor McCabe Photography

Government information and service delivery to Irish citizens has been predominantly web-oriented and in harnessing new technologies to better serve the nation into the future strategies will have to take into account mobile and social, the Irish Government’s recently appointed CIO Bill McCluggage told today’s Digital Ireland Forum: Global 2.0 in Dublin.

Former Northern Ireland chief information officer (CIO) and deputy CIO for the UK cabinet, McCluggage was recently appointed CIO by the Irish Government.

McCluggage said any problems he intends to address through the office of the CIO will not only resolve the problems but will deliver value for money and return on investment.

“We need to invest in the right things and make sure we start rowing the boat in the right direction,” he told delegates at the forum.

He said there are three core tasks he has to address while investing in ICT to radically reduce costs to the Irish exchequer: an enterprise-wide ICT strategy for all State bodies, the development of a “build once, use many” government IT platforms; and a dashboard-driven strategy that manages performance by metrics.

He said there will be four core IT groups formed that will report to the office of Government CIO, including a digital transformation group, a digital infrastructure group, digital delivery group and an IT shared services group.

The future of State-delivered ICT

McCluggage has a strong base of experience that positions him ideally to take the reigns of Ireland’s State IT apparatus. As director of e-government and then-CIO for Northern Ireland, McCluggage led the development and successful implementation of a range of strategies that transformed Northern Ireland’s public services’ interface with the citizen and the delivery of public-sector services.

As deputy government CIO in the Cabinet Office in London, he led a multidisciplinary team that developed the government’s national ICT strategy. He holds a BSc in electrical engineering from Queen’s University Belfast, and an MSc in aerosystems engineering. He is a fellow of the British Computer Society, and is a visiting professor at the University of Ulster.

Looking to the future, McCluggage said Ireland’s State bodies need to broaden their view of the digital world. “In the five principles that guide the State’s IT strategy, one of the principles was the online channel is the most attractive option for consumers.”

Citing the collection of the controversial property tax, which had an 89pc success rate within a very short period of time, McCluggage said the view of the digital world has to change. “The strategy so far has been very much tied to desktops, mentally. That puts us around the 1990/early 2000s.

“That has served us well up until now but things have changed.”

McCluggage said society is being driven by collective forces that are largely social-media generated. “Every person has a smart device, a mobile phone, and that way of delivery is ubiquitous, certainly in the lives of young people.

“Cloud is part of an infrastructure drive to do things in a new way, a mechanism to bring information wherever you want it to be.”

The era of the autonomous customer

McCluggage said he has to be mindful of how citizens will interact with State services into the future.

“We truly are in the era of the autonomous customer and that is driving the future. They do their own thing and harness new media to find out what is going on. John Chambers from Cisco pointed out that 66pc of traffic over the internet by 2015 is going to be by video.

“Why aren’t we using this free media to deliver information coherently to young people and businesses?

“In terms of mobile consumption, the fact is that we are becoming an app-driven environment. The internet of things is already here. My car is already an internet-connected device because I use an e-flow tag. In terms of citizen services, how we integrate third-party channels is important.”

McCluggage cited the G-Cloud platform in the UK as pioneering and an example of evolving successful IT DNA in government.

“The journey to the Government cloud is starting but part of a larger infrastructure capability that we need to generate. This involves stimulating innovation, open services, industry participation, overcoming security concerns, deciding data residency, data management and overcoming the reticence of internal IT departments to accept change.”

Bill McCluggage speaks about digital government for a digital Ireland

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years