Quoting the obvious

October 28, 2012

It’s probably a decade since I first had anything to do with Agilisys but it was interesting to see that they are still around, and apparently thriving, although the management team seems to have largely changed. What was obvious was that even at the launch of their new platform, Agilisys Digital, the employment of a Google guru doesn’t always work when Joel Lohrey, Industry Head of Education, Government and Non-Profit at Google, comes along and states the obvious. The launch and presentation are picked up in Digital by Default News where Lohrey ‘reveals’ his hints to councils:

  • Focus on the user
  • Use analytics to determine what point online drops off to offline
  • Make it mobile
  • Innovate discretely
  • Fix My Street (and a US equivalent) are good examples

I wasn’t present and Lohrey may have picked up on this but focusing on the user and the analytics are only of value if one acts upon what one learns and these actions become the discrete innovations. Why I am gobsmacked is because I wonder if this is all the great god Google can teach us? I do hope not. I realise councils cannot and should not carry out some of the optimizing and juggling that Google is apparently capable of and have to play a clean game, but there must be some real lessons?


Social Media Analytics

January 5, 2010

I took the simple approach to social media metrics in a recent posting but jumping across to the “Occam’s Razor” blog I get another view from Avinash Kaushik, the evangelist at Google.

Avinash provides an analysis of some of the current analytic tools around for Twitter, but he does point out that he picks out the metrics important to his personal strategy. That’d be the next question – how many of us actually have a strategy for Twitter? I do and it’s a very simple one, so I only need a simple metric – mine’s about broadcasting my other research instruments, so I’m actually less conversational than some.

There were actually 23 comments against the lengthy post, so a fair few other proposals for other tools such as the Whuffie Bank but importantly it’s accepted that social media analytics is not about the “single source of truth”, as one commentator put it, it’s about knowing what you are doing and then employing what measures you discover to give you the feedback you need!

So, Twitter becomes an art form in its own right, along with the analysis!

I’ll stick to the simple method, with all the academic stuff I don’t have too much time to play…

Happy experimenting!

I Googled ‘twitter’ and ‘e-government’ and found enlightenment, well almost!

March 1, 2009

Idling away and wondering how to lauch myself on the world of ‘tweats’ I Googled ‘twitter’ and ‘e-government’ and found the following e-pamphlet: “New Labour’s Digital Vision: A Survey of E-government in the UK since 1997”, I then backtabbed and found the site – http://www.knowledgepolitics.org.uk – and the interesting group of researchers e-huddled within.

The content of this very piece was the stimulus for PhD, this second time around anyway! It was having spent so many years trying to fulfill the Whitehall dream and then seeing it for the puff of smoke it was, I felt the need to analyse.

In my opinion this paper, like so many others about UK e-government, might have benefitted from:

  • some input from practitioners – most of the references are to the media or government documents
  • a review of the academic literature – there has been some good research including that by McLoughin & Cornford and Cornford & Richter (see references below).
  • taking a look further back – e-government was actually started by the Conservatives, Nu-Labour picked it up taking along the New Public Management baggage, which was probably the downfall of e-government
  • looking at the bureaucracy – there was little central control, which was actually needed, and a lot of money wasted as a result. The Ministerial control was continually in flux – the Labour brains behind e-government, Liam Byrne, never had power in that arena.

In addition, one thing that seem to be missed was pointing any fingers at Tony Blair. It was his continued raising of the bar that set the ridiculous target (100% services by 2005), presumably to outdo colleagues abroad. Fortunately, other governments were better advised and maintained some rational restraint. The paper almost admits that we never met the targets and accepts that “the reality never met the rhetoric”, however it can’t see the wood for the trees and that essentially e-government is all about using ICT to facilitate improved services to the citizens, which will only be done by improved processes, and much of what has occurred in the past ten years has obfusticated processes and frequently changed them making improvements difficult.

The author is right to criticise it as a failed experiment, but is wrong to use decentralization as a cure. Part of the problem is too much autonomy at Whitehall, whilst continually bullying local government from the CLG/ODPM/DTLR/DETR/DoE. Central government want to get the mote out of its own eye to employ a biblical metaphor.

Incidemtally, if you are “twitterpating” I can be found at http://www.twitter.com/greatemancipato


McLoughlin, I., Cornford, J., (2006). “Transformational change in the local state? Enacting e-government in English local authorities.” Journal of Management & Organization, 12(3): 195 – 208.

Cornford, J., Richter, P., (2007). “Customer Focus in UK e-Government: Or, Putting the Politics back into e-Government.” International Journal of Business Science and Applied Management 2(1): 34 – 46.


January 19, 2009

Whilst researching using Google for some additional sources on ‘co-production’ and ‘systems thinking’ for a paper I’m writing about action research and e-government, I came across a publication written by Zoe Gannon and Neal Lawson from December 2008 published by Compass, the democratic left pressure group that has support within the Labour party from the likes of Jon Cruddas MP, entitled exactly that: Co-production! Strangely, I am on the Compass mailing list but had somehow missed the promotion of the report.

The report provides a useful history of co-production with some practical examples from the UK.