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Gartner - top ten tech trends for government

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan June 3, 2015
Gartner's picked out ten top tech trends for government decision makers to focus on. Do you agree with them?

Gartner’s just published its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for Government in 2015 briefing.

The research firm’s predicting spending by national, federal and local governments worldwide on technology products and services to decline 1.8 % from $439 billion to $431 billion in 2015, but then bouncing back to $475.5 billion by 2019.

On the basis that public sector CIOs need to make strategic decisions about which technologies can have the greatest impact on public services delivery, Gartner’s identified the ten priorities that it sees as worthy of attention.

Gartner research director Rick Howard says:

These strategic technology trends have substantial disruptive potential that is just beginning to materialize and will reach an inflection point within the next three to five years. Public sector CIOs can capitalize on the value of these trends by first determining how they will impact government program operations or service delivery models, and then by building the organizational capabilities and capacity needed to support them.

In no particular order - and with my own commentary attached - Gartner’s Top 10 for government digital decision makers is:

The Digital Workplace

Gartner says:

The government workforce of the future will be populated with digitally literate employees, from frontline workers to top-level executives. The digital workplace is open, flat and democratic. It is the organizational manifestation of open government. CIOs and IT leaders must take a leadership role in building a more social, mobile, accessible and information-driven work environment.

My take: A noble aspiration. Organizationally achievable, but with certain practical logistical issues in older government buildings.

Multichannel Citizen Engagement

Gartner says:

A multichannel strategy, in the context of digital government, means more than delivering a seamless experience to stakeholders. It also is about delivering interactions that are connected, consistent, convenient, collaborative, customized, clear and transparent.

To produce those outcomes, policymakers and CIOs must radically redesign service models by combining traditional marketing tools (such as focus groups, user experience labs, surveys and stakeholder analysis) with new approaches (such as citizen co-creation initiatives, agile development and design thinking).

My take: Governments also need to address the digital divide. Those most vulnerable and needy in society are also often the most likely to be disenfranchised from certain engagement channels. A focus on mobile engagement via phones should be the priority here.

Open Any Data

Gartner says:

Gartner's view is that government open data is here to stay, but it will take a decade or more before its maximum utility is realized. The rapid growth of open datasets among early mover organizations and flat or declining budgets create sustainability challenges to government open data programs. Open data is not free. For most government agencies, open data programs are an unfunded or underfunded cost center.

The "value" of open data must become tangible to government in terms of how its availability can quantifiably contribute to operational efficiency or effectiveness, let alone how it supports economic development, national productivity or commercial ventures.

The north side of the White House looking at the Rose GardenMy take: Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 30% of digital government projects will treat any data as open data. That strikes me as somewhat optimistic, but again it’s a noble aspiration. There’s nothing wrong with aiming high. But creating a de facto open data mindset across government requires a cultural transformation as well as laying down policy.

Citizen e-ID

Gartner says:

It has been a long-standing yet elusive goal of many government planners to provide citizens with integrated and seamless access to all government services.

To be successful, citizen e-ID programs require a trusted relationship between government and commercial vendors, with a focus on business value, interoperability and user experience. Regardless of whether a government agency serves as the primary citizen e-ID identity broker or contracts with a commercial identity and access management as a service (IDaaS) provider, CIOs must ensure that personal privacy and data confidentiality requirements are met.

My take: Elusive goal indeed! In the UK, the Government Digital Service (GDS) spent three years working on its Verify single-sign-on. As in many aspects of digital government, there’s much for other nations to learn from the GDS best practices.

Edge Analytics

Gartner says:

Edge analytics possess three distinct characteristics. Primarily, they are advanced — they apply predictive and prescriptive algorithms and cognitive computing to make real-time assessments about what will happen or what should happen. Second, edge analytics are pervasive. They are embedded into business processes and applications to deliver responsive and agile organizational performance. Finally, edge analytics are invisible. They operate continuously in the background, tracking user activity, processing sensor and environmental data, dynamically adjusting workflows to enhance the user experience, or managing activities during events as they unfold.

My take: Hmmmm, nice theory, but I’m wary of decisions in policy-making and government direction being made based upon statistics. As supporting data to enable decision-making that factors in human impact, fine.

Scalable Interoperability

Gartner says:

Scalable interoperability offers government CIOs, enterprise architects and business process analysts an incremental, "just enough" approach to architecture and standards to deliver "soon enough" value. By narrowing the scope of interoperability initiatives, a motivated community of interest — that is, stakeholders who receive tangible benefits from improved data exchange — can agree to use application-neutral and source-neutral extensible identifiers, formats and protocols to achieve mutual goals.

My take: Another major cultural shift away from the ‘big is best’ mindset.

Digital Government Platforms

Gartner says:

A digital government platform incorporates service-oriented architecture (SOA) design patterns for the provision and use of enterprise services across multiple domains, systems and processes. Vendor offerings are still at an early stage, and they focus primarily on supporting smart cities; examples include IBM Smarter Cities, Microsoft CityNext, Cisco Smart+Connected Communities, SAP Urban Matters, Oracle's Solutions for Smart Cities and Capgemini's Global Cities. Despite their focus on operational technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT), these platforms address many of the issues pertaining to the data exchange and event triggering that are typical of digital government.

My take: Interesting/alarming that Gartner focuses on vendor platforms rather than Government as a Platform initiatives driven by government.

Internet of Things

Gartner says:

Government agencies can expect IoT-driven changes in several different areas, including environmental or public infrastructure monitoring, emergency response, supply chain inspection, asset and fleet management, and traffic safety. Government CIOs will need to approach the IoT strategically to evaluate how a growing base of intelligent objects and equipment can be combined with traditional Internet and IT systems to support breakthrough innovations in operational performance or public service delivery.

My take: An area with enormous potential for government to optimise service delivery and reduce costs.

Web-Scale IT

Gartner says:

For government, the shift to Web-scale IT is a long-term trend with significant IT process, cultural and technology implications. Organizations adopting a Web-scale IT philosophy will largely eschew the acquisition of expensive, scalable computing, storage and networking resources in favor of lower-cost, open-source-derived hardware that bypasses the traditional infrastructure "middlemen". Consequently, traditional IT suppliers and delivery modes will become less relevant to government IT.

My take: An area in which some good work has been done via initiative such as the US Cloud First mandate and the UK’s G-Cloud. But it’s a move that will meet with enormous resistance from the traditional IT suppliers as their big ticket old-style contracts come under threat.

Hybrid Cloud (and IT)

Gartner says:

In government, where consolidation is high on many agendas, a hybrid IT model requires very different competencies to support various public cloud deployments. Government CIOs will need to reposition IT organizations from being full-service providers of IT services to being their agencies' preferred brokers and managers of services offered predominantly through the cloud.

My take: Again, kudos to the likes of the G-Cloud program for advocating and encouraging the adoption of public cloud alongside the private cloud technology that many in government find more ‘comfortable’.

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