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The Getting of Wisdom

The Getting of Wisdom

The next few years are shaping up to be a crossroads for public sector knowledge workers, says Steve Hodgkinson, research director at global advisory and consulting firm Ovum

Intergenerational changes and a growing tendency to recruit from outside the public service are creating a crisis of public sector knowledge management.

Hodgkinson says we may look back on this as the year that government woke up to the need to invest in its own organizational fabric

As various state and federal governments reconsider their desktop strategies, they should look to the new generation of desktop software to address the almost universal failure of document and record management systems in recent years, according to Steve Hodgkinson, research director at global advisory and consulting firm Ovum.

"The next few years are shaping up to be something of a crossroads for public sector knowledge workers," Hodgkinson says.

Hodgkinson blames the emerging crisis on an ageing workforce, widening remuneration gap between public and private sector, changing expectations of younger workers and the growing complexity of public policy issues. These issues have been sneaking up on us, he says, but we may look back on this as the year that government woke up to the need to invest in its own organizational fabric.

"One of the symptoms is the progressive down-wasting of document and records management capabilities — like a glacier slowly retreating up a valley, a barely noticeable consequence of diminished snowfall years ago in unseen mountain snowfields. The public sector once prided itself on the discipline of its paper records management, with registered filing being an essential element of the training of all public servants. The coincidence of the ease of electronic document creation, more decentralized organisation models and the demise of the career public servant has led to a gradual loss of document and records management discipline," he says.

Most agencies are looking at desktop strategies around the state and federal level in one way or another" — opening up the zipper, as it were, on the desktop," Hodgkinson says. But those going through the process find that it starts out as a kind of low-level technical software procurement issue — Microsoft Office/Windows versus Lotus Notes or whatever — when they should be thinking much more strategically, he says.

Wind back the clock five years and the office productivity suite was "a discreet thin horizontal layer that didn't really delve down much into the deeper issues of document records management". The latest generation of software, including Microsoft Sharepoint Server and the integration of Sharepoint and Office for example, or the IBM Lotus Connections suite and its integration with Open Office, go much deeper than they ever had in the past.

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