Is irony that coppery metally stuff?

Rehana Azam, the national secretary for public services at the GMB union, said: “Public services are predominantly delivered by people so it’s hard to see how they’re going to provide a cost-efficient service from call centres in another country.

“We’d want to sit down with Capita and make sure people are treated fairly in any process that ends with them losing jobs.”

Azam cast doubt on whether using robots to automate some of its systems would work. “We’ve never had a good track record with private providers delivering computerised systems. I’d like to see where there have been good examples of that kind of automation.”

The public sector’s always been so good at computerisation, hasn’t it?

18 thoughts on “Is irony that coppery metally stuff?”

  1. I’ve had some dealings with one of the Big 4’s robotics people recently – quite a lot of crappy repetitive admin jobs like invoice processing, form checking and so on can be done seamlessly and much more cheaply by software robots; also the bots work 24/7 and have a greatly reduced error rate.

    Remember that the biggest single cause cited for food bank use is the Curajus Stait cocking up and delaying payment? Much of that is to be swept away

  2. Probably an indication that it’s time to change the keyboard. They only last a couple of months and it’s for some strange reason, the o and the c that go first…..

  3. Ms Azam is talking through her hat. Fifty-odd years ago ICI were successfully installing computerised systems to run chemical plants with a zero failure rate. Since then most airlines have adopted computerised autopilots. Cars …
    If she wants to say she only means computers replacing clerical staff, look at Sage which became a FTSE-100 company by doing it well. Or Microsoft.

  4. I do like the idea that the national secretary of a trades union is primarily concerned with providing a cost-efficient service. Is she aware that one way to increase efficiency is to cut wages?

  5. “The public sector’s always been so good at computerisation, hasn’t it?”

    Well, not the sort that *works*. Not the sort of computerization that won’t drive a private company, dependent on its customers continuing to buy its product without coercion to ‘help’ them make up their minds, out of business in short order.

    But the sort that makes your agency ever more unresponsive and isolated from the public you continue to claim, all evidence to the contrary, to serve.

    “Hey, complaints are way down since we installed that new automated phone tree and fired the ombudsman.”

  6. The public sector’s always been so good at computerisation, hasn’t it?
    At the risk of pointing out the blindingly obvious, public sector bureaucracy is specifically designed not to computerizable.

  7. “We’ve never had a good track record with private providers delivering computerised systems.”

    Yeah, those Amazon systems – they just don’t work do they? And Tesco, blimey, nothing ever arrives when it should…

    Ask OpenReach, HMRC, the NHS, or the MoD – they’re the real experts.


  8. “Sorry, I’ve missed something here. Is there something that the public service are good at?”

    Mass murder. Apart from that… I’m struggling.

  9. @Andrew Duffin

    Yeah, funny how private sector customers seem to be able to put in IT systems from private providers just fine…

  10. “We’ve never had a good track record with private providers delivering computerised systems.”

    The problem is that the state is still involved in the supplier selection and writing specifications.

    The state pick companies like the big consultancies, because they pick companies who can jump through a gazillion hurdles. But they’re hopeless. They’ll say they’ve got the staff with a skill, but they don’t. Then they get a project and get some recent graduate to sit down with a few books and learn it. You’re paying £1200/day for that. You can go with a smaller consultancy that have people with good experience for half that.

    And then the state doesn’t do the work on the specification properly. So, it then has to be reworked.

    It’s actually one way that “austerity” has been a good thing. The state has had to get much smarter about spending. I worked at a council recently on some IT and they were doing what I’d do – going to more “off the shelf” IT, like using stuff like Mailchimp or Azure rather than some expensive consultancy solution that will suck.

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