By Tony Collins
Phil Pavitt was CIO at HM Revenue & Customs. He left two years ago and arrived at Specsavers via Aviva where he was global director of IT transformation.
At HMRC he was a main board member, responsible for all technology across the estate, delivering the change agenda, and managing a total annual IT budget of more than £1bn.
Now he has given an interview to Government Computing in which he talks about his role at Specsavers but also some of the challenges faced by those who are responsible for IT in central government.
– applauds the Government Digital Service’s (GDS) role in increasing digital traction, but believes the putting down of CIOs has been unnecessary and counter-productive.
– laments a lack of attention to legacy systems. “Name me the departments that have revolutionised themselves and their legacy engines. There’s not many to name. But the front end looks really really good. But who is going to change that legacy because one day that disconnect will be huge? They [GDS] are playing into the hands of the big SIs [systems integrators] who will turn out and say, ‘You’ll have to swap it out, and only we can do it.
“So I think there’s an interesting fundamental dichotomy that will eventually appear where the front of government will look really good and rightly so, and the back of government increasingly becomes expensive, archaic and out of date. And that’s going to be a problem.”
Pavitt also talks about the challenges faced by SMEs when trying to do business with departments, and the role of big suppliers, the so-called systems integrators.