Mind the GaaP: Beyond digital to realising a platform for the UK public sector Workshop 17/18 September 2013

Mind the GaaP: Beyond digital to realising a platform for the UK public sector

Organizers: Prof. Ian Sommerville, Dept. of Computer Science, St. Andrews University, UK
Prof. Alan W. Brown, Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, UK

This exciting, dynamic workshop taking place near the University of Surrey on the outskirts of Guildford, UK. Ideally placed less than 40 minutes from central London, this venue offers the ideal place to bring together technologists, policy makers, and educators in an interactive forum.

Globalisation, digitisation and commoditisation are challenging traditional, corporatist ways of organising everywhere. Whether you are HSBC or HMRC, old, siloed business models of “doing it all yourself” are threatened on all sides by new ways of doing things involving broader engagement with all stakeholders to meet their needs, increased transparency into delivery processes and operating procedures, and consumption of standard, re-useable offerings. Virtualized, cloud-based services now become integral components that accelerate this “de-verticalization” of business and technology. The result is that some of the most envied and discussed businesses in the world are founded on open platforms whose popularity encourages smaller businesses to innovate around these platforms, forming interactive communities of producers and consumers dreaming up new
services that no-one had thought of before, delivered in ways not foreseen.

These ideas have been applied to government itself, for which the phrase “government as a platform, or GaaP”, minted by Tim O’ Reilly in 2009, became shorthand. However, although GaaP was broadly debated in the US, the term has received less attention in the UK, and is too frequently dismissed as a narrow technology-specific initiative. This is a shame, because GaaP is more than a buzzword: it invites serious engagement between the world of government and the emerging world of platform-based thinking. In fact, in the UK the Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Strategy (GDS) can be seen as good start in embracing platform-based technologies for government.

Some of the most interesting and difficult challenges to be addressed with GaaP involve the scale, complexity, and massive inter-connectivity of government-focused solutions. As such, they are illustrative of a range of Ultra Large-Scale Systems (ULSS): decentralized in a variety of ways, developed and used by a wide variety of stakeholders with conflicting needs, evolving continuously, and constructed from heterogeneous parts. Furthermore, with massive community involvement across a complex software and systems supply chain of vendor and consumers, people are not just users of such systems; they are critical elements of the system.

We now need to debate how to take steps towards GaaP, and to prioritize the activities and initiatives necessary for its success. This workshop gives a broad invited audience the opportunity to discuss GaaP, and consider how leverage open technology and services ideas toward the broader concept of platforms and open innovation in the context of large-scale socio-technical systems.

Workshops in Socio-Technical Systems 

This workshop series in socio-technical systems has now been running for a number of years and was stimulated by the common observation that the most valuable aspect of conference and workshop attendance is the conversations between the sessions. We focus on discussion in convivial surroundings, stimulated by a small number of keynote speakers that we ask to be provocative and ample room for ideas to form and for discussion to flow. We value attendees for their wisdom and experience, and their openness to engage in meaningful discussion – we don’t expect you to have to do a lot of preparatory work creating huge slide decks.

We strictly limit attendance to 30 people, invitation only and we deliberately invite a mix of senior people – from industry, government and universities and from different disciplinary backgrounds. Discussions are under ‘Chatham House rules’ i.e. are non-attributable and we ask people to be careful what they say on social media.

This year we will hold the workshop in close proximity to London to make it easier for government delegates from London to attend. The workshop will be held in the De Vere Conference Centre, Horsley Park, Surrey on 17th and 18th September 2013 and we cover your accommodation and all meeting costs. Your only obligation is to cover your own travel costs, and to arrive ready to be part of a stimulating and meaningful discussion!
People who have attended our workshops in the past have commented how refreshingly different these are from the usual workshops and how much they have enjoyed the event. We do hope that you will be able to join us this year to take part.
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For further information,  please contact Alan Brown at alan.w.brown@surrey.ac.uk, or 01483 682126.

1 Comment
  1. Interest in event

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