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POD IT - Umbrella article

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As digitisation progresses at an ever increasing pace in all organisations, the need for IT resources continues to grow. Today, reconciling budgetary control and the rise of digital infrastructures has become a critical issue. The Brussels Region is no exception to this new reality.  

According to a study by the International Data Corporation (IDC), the global volume of data in circulation worldwide has increased sixfold since 2015 and is expected to grow 350% every year from 2025 to reach a staggering 2,142 billion bytes in 2035. The multiplication of data, applications, terminals, cyber risk, and the rise of the cloud make digital transformation increasingly complex and costly to address. 

The Brussels-Capital Region illustrates this phenomenon.

While the IT expenditure of the various regional entities amounted to €200 million in 2019, this figure is expected to rise to €260 million in the coming years, according to a study conducted by Gartner on the request of the Region. The need for digitisation automatically increases the need for IT investment, which means that the current model, characterised by the non-optimisation of expenses, is not sustainable in the long term for the Region. How can we reverse this trend?

New governance

Today, regional entities tend to manage their IT perimeter in a vacuum, and are not able to develop partnerships or a transversal view that would integrate other players. This silo approach limits their ability to keep up with the pace of digital acceleration, as they have too few resources to do so effectively. This deficit makes them more vulnerable in negotiations with their suppliers, in adapting to the challenges of cybersecurity, and in managing their IT needs in terms of personnel, expertise and expenses.

To transform the current model, the POD IT (IT Expense Optimisation Programme), initiated by the Minister of Digital Transition, Bernard Clerfayt, in 2021, and subsequently approved by the government in 2022, proposes a new IT governance, based on a collective and shared approach. Materialised in a digital infrastructure at the service of the various regional entities, the principle behind this new governance is to pool the IT and digital resources of the various regional entities so that the ecosystem as a whole can become more efficient, robust, agile, responsive and resilient.

This pooling of tools and skills aims to achieve cross-functional IT operations, greater technological coherence and an enhanced capacity for innovation. The shared system will encourage the emergence of active management of the supply and demand of IT services, with shortened waiting times and greatly reduced costs. It will enable economies of scale in terms of efficiency, as resources will be mutual. What is useful to one person can also be useful to another.

In addition, pooling will reduce 'shadow IT* and data fragmentation through a holistic view and consistent IT practice. The operation of POD IT will be adapted to each regional entity, as the programme takes into account the specificities of each one by granting access calibrated according to their specific needs.

Finally, this new model will also be an asset in reducing the carbon footprint of digital services through the rationalisation of services and control over investment. The transversal nature of the project should allow for the consideration of the environmental footprint from the beginning of any IT construction in order to limit it.

Financial optimisation

This new IT governance will facilitate an increase in the maturity and quality of IT delivery at the regional level, characterised in particular by improved desktop management, the implementation of new services, and the provision of specialised talent. By curbing the explosion of costs, it will free up financial space that can be reinvested in improving the value chains specific to the digital sector, i.e. the entire IT operating chain.

Thanks to the pooling of public IT resources, regional entities will be able to contain, and even reduce, their IT spending, as they will benefit from a more balanced power relationship with their suppliers. Prices can be negotiated downward because the volume of purchases or services contracted will be greater. POD IT allows you to spend less, but also to spend better. While the current lack of consistency is causing IT service purchases to be multiplied, the programme reduces waste and duplication by coordinating investment with each other. What is purchased once is used for the entire ecosystem.

With all these advantages, the new model should generate savings estimated by Gartner at 29,3 million euros per year by 2026. This innovative way of understanding IT is the opposite of the silo approach and defines a necessary turnaround to effectively address digital transformation. This is true in the Brussels Region as well as elsewhere in the world. Paradigm has been appointed to be the orchestrator of this process. 

*It identifies the information and communication systems designed, implemented, and paid for within organisations without approval from the information systems department.