Microsoft: Scotland

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Microsoft Scotland

Microsoft Edinburgh 127 George Street Edinburgh EH2 4JN


Microsoft Workers

Raymond O'Hare

Microsoft Scotland have a work force of 40 people mostly working in sales and technical support

Scottish Company Investors

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership

Aegon UK

Scottish Equitable

Aberdeen Asset Management

Microsoft's Involvement with Scotland's Public Services

Microsoft has fiercely lobbied the Scottish Executive to have access to Scotland’s public services. The Scottish Executive and Microsoft are both clients of the lobbying agency 2Collaborate, which may account for Microsoft’s success in gaining public service contracts.

Police Force

On the 11th August 2005 Central Scotland Police announced that Microsoft Windows would replace some open source technologies and Charteris plc, a Microsoft partner, is providing training and consultancy.

“Central Scotland Police is basing its IT system on the Microsoft platform because its internal study shows that it offers the best value in total cost of ownership, ease of use, interoperability, reliability and support,” said Nick McGrath, head of Platform Strategy for Microsoft Ltd. “Central Scotland Police estimates that it could save 30 percent on IT maintenance costs and 25 percent of IT staff’s time by using Microsoft technology.”[1].

NHS Scotland

NHS Scotland has signed a national deal with Microsoft to supply office software and desktop operating systems at a discounted rate, saving an estimated £8m. Software will be provided to NHS Scotland through an appointed reseller, Trustmarque Solutions.

The recent deal between Microsoft and NHS Scotland followed public criticism by Microsoft that NHS Scotland was wasting billions on IT

Microsoft’s former director for Scotland, Gordon McKenzie publicly criticised NHS Scotland for it's inefficiency and claiming that the NHS in Scotland pays four times more than the English health service for its IT systems.

"But NHS Scotland is still operating in a piecemeal way," said McKenzie. "Royal Bank of Scotland has 100,000 employees and one IT system. The NHS in Scotland is about the same size, but there are 14 NHS trusts and even within each trust there may be four different systems. They even have different e-mail systems."

McKenzie said there was "no plan for convergence" in the NHS and that the public services, including local government, could be heavily streamlined so there was one system for HR, one for payroll, and even one council tax across Scotland, but he said Microsoft was "making more money out of the mess"[2].

Shared Services

Shared Services was born in the 1980s when large corporations adopted the strategy to improve efficiency. Since then the American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and UK governments have adopted shared services.

According to the Scottish Executives publication ‘A Shared Approach to Building a Better Scotland: A Consultation Paper on a National Strategy for Shared Services’ shared services will be the best method for increasing the efficiency of Scottish Public Services. They set out five main aims including

1. To be user focused and personalised, organised around users and citizen needs and aspirations, not convenience of the service provider 2. Drive up quality and encourage innovation 3. Continue to improve efficiency and productivity 4. Be joined up and minimise separation 5. Ensure strong accountability

The Executive have created supportive work streams such as the Efficient Government Initiative, The McClelland Review of Public Procurement in Scotland, The integrated Services and Governance Modelling Project, Review of Local Government Finance Best Value Framework Modernising Government.

The shared services strategy has been developed with the Efficient Government Initiative which was launched in Novemeber 2004 but has ties with the other initiative mentioned above. The Shared Services Strategy has the following objectives

1 Identify and realise opportunities for efficiency savings and service improvements to be gained through the adoption of shared service initiatives 2. Promote the development of shred services, processes and systems that are resilient to changes in service delivery structures and boundaries and better able to meet the needs of joined up public services. 3. Build on the standards and infrastructure being put in place through the modernising Government Customer First and e-card initiatives and ideas developed through the Efficient Government Fund.

Opportunities for the shared services fall into two categories

1. Support functions such as Accounting, Payroll, Procurement, Human Resources, Facilities, Information and Communication Technology 2. Common Operational processes and systems that underpin front line services and which are duplicated across multiple organisations.

The Minister for Finance and Public Service Reform Tom McCabe estimated savings of between £250 million and £750 million a year across the whole of the Scottish public sector.

"The Executive is committed to spending taxpayers' money as efficiently and effectively as possible. This new shared services strategy on which we are seeking views is a central plank of our Efficient Government initiative which aims to tackle bureaucracy and duplication in the public sector."[3]

In formation Technology is second in the top six most popular areas for shared services. Institutions such as Scottish Enterprise and NHS Scotland have implemented national shared support services and smaller organisations such as Glasgow City Council, the city of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Executive have implemented internal shared support. This can be a very efficient way of opertaing public services. Tom McCabe backs the efficiency of shared services convincingly:

"Take Shared Services for example. It is a waste to have the same function replicated in each and every public body. This can be effectively tackled by sharing support services, like finance, human resources, facilities and estates and IT across the whole public sector in Scotland." [4]

However, this arguement may be redundant if sharing the services was not delegated by open competition. The Shared Services strategy was set up with the involvement of many big businesses such as Microsoft, Cap Gemini and Logica. David Amos met with these companies to discuss the executive’s proposals for the planned Holyrood Consultations research to determine the best way forward for Shared Services. This meeting was followed up with Amos and Microsoft on the 8th November 2006 to discuss their response to the consultation.

Microsoft representatives Caroline Findlay and Marcus Henderson also met with the head of Shared Services Jonathan Moore for an informal discussion on developing the shared services strategy. And further meetings between Microsoft and the Permanent secretary John Elvidge took place on the following dates 23/01/06, 17/03/06, 03/07/06, 08/08/06, 06/09/06, and 05/10/06. Thus, Microsoft have been greatly involved in the development of shared services and there is little doubt that their input has been strongly related to their own interests of gaining a stronger hold on Scottish public services.

Microsoft Government Leaders Forum

On the 30th January 2007 Microsoft held their fourth annual European Government leaders forum in the Scottish Parliament. The forum is a gathering of leaders including Prime Ministers, Ministers, EU Commissioners and policy advisers from across Europe. The event aims to discuss issues relating to the government, the role of technology in education and employability issues.

The announcement of Microsoft partnership with the Scottish Executive was fitting in this context. Bill gates accompanied Jack Mc Connell in a press statement highlighting the philanthropic work both the Microsoft Corporation and the Scottish Executive will undertake in helping young Scots achieve. The signed agreement aims to train 100,000 Scots in computer skills[5]. The project is aimed at those not in education, employment or training (NEET). this is not a new market for Microsoft as they are already involved with Learn Direct ScotlandMicrosoft envisages supporting NEET through the use of the Microsoft brand, seconding a senior person for 2/3 days per week, facilitating access to the Microsoft Partner network (1500 SMEs), all of which aim to deliver ICT solutions customers, connecting to Microsoft's existing skills and education programmes and helping ensure new programmes are practical and offering IT and software development expertise[6].

The Executive identified seven local authorities 'where NEET is a particular challenge and where reducing NEET locally would make an impact nationally." [7]These included Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire, Inverclyde and Dundee.

Four high profile recruits have agreed to support the work of the NEET Programme Board in improving access to opportunities for those identified as NEET, estimated to be around 20,000.

Four recruits helping in the NEET project

Mark Adams from Microsoft

David Watt from KPMG

Euan Davidson, formerly CEO of the Princes Trust

Ray Perman from the Hunter Foundation

However, Bill Gates did not come to Scotland solely for the purpose of the forum. Gates was awarded an honorary degree by Edinburgh University. A further coincidence was that the forum was undertaken at the same time as Microsoft’s new operating systems launch, Vista. The company has invested £3 billion and expects a healthy return on those investments as Vista is expected to be used in 100 million computers by 2008.


  1. Microsoft (2005) Central Scotland Police and Microsoft Launch ICT Alliance to Support the Police Modernization AgendaMicrosoft Website (accessed 22/03/07)
  2. Murden, T (2004) Microsoft Accuses 'Piecemeal' NHS of Wasting Money The Scotsman26th December (accessed 22/03/07)
  3. Scottish Executive (2006)A Shared Approach to Building a Better Scotland: A Consultation Paper on a National Strategy for Shared ServicesScottish Executive Website11th May (accessed 28/01/07)
  4. McCabe, T (2006) Efficient Government in ScotlandeGov monitor 6th Feburary (accessed 11/04/07)
  5. MChinty, S (2007) Billionaire, benefactor...but is Bill Gates a force for good? The Scotsman 31st January (accessed 28/02/07)
  6. Scottish Executive (2006) Microsoft and NEET e-mail from Melanie Weldon to Sarah Davidson, 30th June, Freedom of Information request
  7. Scottish Executive (2006) Microsoft and NEET e-mail from Melanie Weldon to Sarah Davidson, 30th June, Freedom of Information request