In a previous post I suggested that public bodies might consider simple, cheap and effective web-based tools rather than developing internal solutions. And a short time ago 37 signals blog talked about the ever decreasing need for centralised IT at organisational level
Responsibility for keeping the servers running has shifted away from the centralized IT department. Today you can get just about all the services that previously required local expertise from a web site somewhere.
The transition won’t happen over night, but it’s long since begun. The companies who feel they can do without an official IT department are growing in number and size. It’s entirely possible to run a 20-man office without ever even considering the need for a computer called “server” somewhere.
The good news for IT department operators is that they’re not exactly saddled with skills that can’t be used elsewhere.
Now three cities in North America have opted for Google Apps because that it offers a cheaper and more effective suite of tools for communication and collaboration. As 37 signals predicted, they have found all the services they need on the web as Google Apps offers email, calendar, chat, spreadsheets, presentations, documents and much more for about £33 per year per person. According to a City of Edmonton spokesperson:
We will now have a more inclusive work environment where all employees will have access and be able to share and collaborate in real time on the same document whenever they want, in any location, and on any device
such as smartphones and laptops
The City of St Louis reckons that not only will it make their staff more productive, it will make them happier. A third city, Des Moines, expects that the collaboration enabled by Google sites will make it much easier for 18 departments to collaborate the annual budget process, something they used to dread.
At IRISS we have been using Google Apps for several years and it does really make collaborative working much easier. If only more people in the public sector were allowed access to Google Apps….