U.K. CIOs Must Modernize, Report Warns

Two new reports say business and government organizations aren't making good use of modern technology.
U.K. business and government organizations need to sharpen their act when it comes to making best use of modern IT, according to two new reports.

The first, by the country's main professional HR association, the 100-year old Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), slams the private sector for not yet realizing the "full potential of modern technology to develop their workforces." That's a problem, argued the study's writers, as it's a gap that "will need to be closed" if British businesses are to keep up with the impact of globalization.

Businesses are failing to capitalize on the benefits of e-learning -- like improved connectivity and more flexibility in their ability to develop staff, the CIPD report said. Thus while 74% of organizations currently use e-learning, only 15% think it is one of the "most effective" learning practices available to them. The findings also suggest e-learning adoption has changed very little over the past two years: 40% of respondents say it takes up less than 10% of their total training time, and only 10% say it accounts for the majority of total training time. Ninety-one percent said e-learning is more effective when combined with other types of learning and 72% say it is not a substitute for face-to-face or classroom forms of learning.

[ Schools need to step up tech training to prepare the future workforce. See European Students Need Better Tech Training, Study Says. ]

"Our research data suggests that U.K. businesses are not taking full advantage of the flexibility of e-learning and the networking opportunities it affords," said the report's author, CIPD learning and development adviser John McGurk.

"Businesses could be doing more to keep up to date with the latest developments and remain relevant for today's workforce, many of whom embrace modern technology at home."

It may not just the British private sector that could barely get a passing grade when it comes to exploiting tech. In a separate report, London-headquartered analyst group Ovum, for example, said that CIOs in the public sector need to do more to get on board with what it terms "human-centered design thinking and approaches."

Specifically, not enough is being done to make the user the center of system design -- a failing that in the words of Ovum government technology analyst Nishant Shah, lead to faulty assumptions that "have time and again been proven wrong when the systems are implemented."

The concepts are much more familiar and being acted on by "private sector decision-makers focused on innovation," he added. Public sector IT leaders could do a lot worse, he argued, than adopting "design thinking" in government IT, as is particularly applicable in changing workflows for shared services, in co-creation initiatives and in efforts dealing with open data that involve citizens and multiple agencies, plus defense and intelligence technology operations.

Ovum recommended that public sector CIOs begin to incorporate relevant elements into those tech projects with "wicked problems" -- i.e., those with significantly greater complexity and ambiguity than normal.

For Shah, "Familiarity with a variety of methodologies can help leaders improve outcomes via a focus on end-user needs, collaboration and iteration as well as creativity."

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