Monday September 24th and Tuesday 25th over 300 souls - mostly IT personell, a pinch of sales people and a handful of municipal top leaders - met in Trondheim for the annual eKommune conferance. There was a great variation of talks, as might be expected. Most notable was possibly a mismatch between the view of central government and local administration about what needs to be done to optimize IT spending in the public sector.
Municipal CTOs agreed across the board that there needs to be architectural and protocol standards to facilitate integration, intermunicipal cooperation and municipality-to-state reporting. To achive this, we need action from central government. This is in tune with my article series about consulting in the public sector.
Central government, on the other hand, were afraid to touch anything that might reduce local self governance. One claim was that the differences between municipalities may be too great.
I got to chat with the CTO of a much larger municipality (withholding name to protect the CTO), and learned that we were technically not that different. In fact, we shared the same major challenge, which is a political challenge, rather than a technical challenge: How non-IT public workers - the very ones that we support - view IT and how methods of accounting IT costs obscure the big picture within the organization.
Indeed, I have had the same chat with the CTO of a large private company, who experiences the same organizational issues. It makes me wonder if we have ourselves to blame, in that we really are technologists, not politicians. Our message gets lost in our willful haste to get things done.