CIO Masters Series: David Wilde, CIO of England's Essex County Council

A look at the work and vision of David Wilde, CIO of England's Essex County Council, who is a leader in public-sector IT innovation.

By Matthew Griffin
Oct. 25, 2016


Other vendors are at the other extreme, Wilde says, citing Google, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce, to name but three, all of which arguably should know better. He reports that Google somewhat arrogantly proclaims that it knows the county council marketplace like the back of its hand. Meanwhile, AWS's sales teams, despite the fact that the adoption of public cloud services by organizations in highly regulated industries looks like a rounding error, continue to push the AWS cloud as a safe harbor for public-sector data. And while the jury's still out about that, it's Wilde who would go to jail if county data was compromised in a public cloud. Then there's Salesforce, which, Wilde says, seems to miss the point of the customer experience, telling him and his team that it can retrofit all of the council's services into its system -- sure, retrofitting your services into a supplier's product sounds like fun, but in reality many technology staffers would rather stick their heads down the toilet.

Wilde says smaller vendors are hungry and more interesting, something that I hear all the time, and the systems integrators and telco's are fat, still pushing high-margin products while still thinking that offshoring is the answer to everything and at the same time not realizing that it's that very approach that, in this new age of on-demand, is killing them.

On jargon

The cloud and big data. If those terms are on the marketing collateral you're about to email to Wilde and his team after your cold call, then stop, get up from your chair and smack your head against the wall. Time and time again, from CIOs in every size company and in every industry, I hear the same response: The cloud is old hat and big data is yesterday's news. Cloud computing is simply a delivery model for IT, and having a conversation about big data is meaningless if you aren't talking about innovative outcomes. So vehement have customers' reactions to these two topics become that I've heard entire roundtables of CIOs say they will lynch the next salesperson who comes in and mentions them. You have been warned.

 01100101 the digital county

The private sector has made no bones about announcing huge investments in "digital," but in truth, and even though the public sector is often perceived as being technology laggards not leaders, it was the U.K. public sector that in 1995 tried to centralize its core services in a single government portal.

The nameless forerunner to .gov.uk was funded from the cabinet offices' budget, had more than 4 million hits per month, and was so successful that U.S. President Bill Clinton invited the team to Washington to discuss it and open.gov (the U.S. version) eventually was formed.

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