If you say one thing about the currecnt coalition government, it's certainly making good its promise to put IT at the heart of the government.
Barely a month since taking the reins of power, the government has already announced that more IT contracts will go to SMEs, have confirmed that it will carry on the previous government's open data initiative and re-confirmed Martha Lane Fox as the UK's digital champion. For good measure, it has also announced its plans for broadband - although so far these have been long on rhetoric and short of promise.
So, it's not surprise that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook is one of the first business leaders to pay a call on the government. In fact, he's well ahead of many government leaders in coming round - a mark of the importance of social media in today's scheme of things.
I've quoted Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff's piece before when he said that enterprise software should become more like Facebook. It seems that the UK government is fully in agreement with this - not surprising when you think of various government web initiatives that have come to nothing, and when government bodies have lost control of how many websites there actually are and how much they're costing.
At a time when businesses are vast amounts engaging with their customers, it seems like an eminently sensible policy by a government to take a similar approach. The danger is that it seems too gimmicky - it's easy enough to get CEOs to call on a government leader, most are going to be flattered by an invitation, but it's following that through with real action.
Engagement with the public is a great process to follow - even though many commercial organisations still have some way to go according to an Episerver report - but the government should be wary of grand gestures. A proper, web-led, social media campaign needs to be well-thought fthrough, the IT departments need to be involved from the outset to ensure that sites can deal with the traffic and to ensure that security concerns have been met. They need to ensure that departments are getting value for money, and integrate with the legacy data.
At IT-led initiative sounds fantastic - as long as it is IT-led. Government by soundbites and photo-opportunities is not the way forward though. It's great that the likes of Zuckerberg share their ideas but there's plenty of real work to come.
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