Local governments – cities, counties, states – are investing in technology. Why? Well, a number of factors drive local governments to take a smarter approach to their administration and development: limited budgets, increasing citizen demands, competition for investment and jobs etc. Balancing competing demands on a shoestring budget isn't easy. City leaders are looking for ways to sustainably transformation city functions such as transportation, healthcare, public safety, utilities, or governance, and in aggregate the city as a whole. And, they increasingly value technology as a means to such a transformation.
Fortunately, cities do not have to undertake this journey on their own, and they don’t expect to. In fact, according to Forrester’s Forrsights Budgets and Priorities Tracker Survey, local governments are more likely to expect increases in IT technical consulting than other industries (and more than governments as a whole): 38% of local government IT budget decision-makers expected a 5-10% increase in consulting spend and 2% expected an increase of more than 10%. Local governments are turning to the experts to help them figure out what this “smart city” thing means for them.
The picture is slowly coming into focus, and it’s a good one. This time last year I scolded Orange Business Services for not presenting a comprehensive smart cities strategy – particularly after having announced smart cities as one of its strategic pillars for the year. The announcement at their 2012 analyst event was not about a strategy; it was an announcement that they were going to create a strategy, and that they had appointed someone to do that. Well, Nathalie Leboucher has been in her role for 18 months now and progress has been made. Orange has developed a portfolio of solutions – mostly based on pilots across France and in the Middle East – and has announced several key partnerships. Yet there is more to do to develop a comprehensive message demonstrating that Orange “gets it” with regard to cities and can leverage all its assets to help cities (and capitalize on the opportunity).