Guest blog: Lack of interoperability holds back IT innovation

It’s a common scenario; “We love your product. We can already see how it will improve how we work, allowing us to better serve the public, cut our costs and save taxpayers’ money. Tell me, do you have integration with System ‘X’ and/or System ‘Y’?”

“We’re glad you like our product. We don’t yet have integration with those systems as their vendors require Customer sponsorship, but we can help get the integration in place very quickly during rollout with your sponsorship.”

For those of us in the business of developing IT solutions to common problems, this is an all-too-common and very frustrating hurdle. Despite reassuring statements from vendors and the many thousands of column inches devoted to this issue, interoperability remains as elusive as a unicorn.

The move to common APIs and standards has certainly helped the industry move forward to a point, but genuine interoperability is still a long way off. This impacts on everyone who buys IT, as they are often forced to implement a lesser solution simply because it’s the only one that connects to their existing infrastructure. This should never be the primary decision driver.

Collaboration on the move?

The ‘Council of the Future’ is one where public services will be increasingly delivered to residents more quickly and at a lower cost through the digitisation of their work processes. Much like the rest of the public sector, Councils have been pursuing a “digital first” agenda for some time now, but there are still plenty of opportunities to innovate further, particularly with mobile workers.

 

The widespread adoption of digital collaboration tools such as instant messaging, web and video conferencing, cloud-based project management tools etc., have seen councils benefit from improved levels of collaboration. However, these benefits have largely been reserved for those in the office environment, with their colleagues who often work on the move (social workers, support workers, housing officers etc.), still largely working with pen and paper.

Solutions like Quvo were specifically developed to solve this problem, helping those on the frontline of public services achieve the dream of a truly mobile, secure and connected

workforce – and finally making collaboration a reality for everyone whether they are based in our out of the office.

As eluded to earlier, the continued lack of momentum in interoperability remains a major barrier to progress. It is incredibly frustrating. It stifles innovation and flies in the face of the vision of interoperability. Despite the apparent calls for SME inclusivity in the marketplace, the necessity for Vendor/Customer “sponsorship” only serves as a barrier as it creates the chicken & egg scenario. While not all vendors are completely closed-down, some major ones are particularly stubborn in this area. This needs to change.

To break this deadlock, and to help them achieve the benefits of the “Council of the Future” we urge all Councils and public sector buyers to insist on interoperability in every solution they purchase. Only with collective action can progress be made. We are currently working with techUK to establish a working group to promote interconnectivity. If you would like to get involved, please visit https://www.quvo365.com/.

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