The march of technological change and disruption to traditional government service delivery is fostering the reboot of the planet, said Steve Bates, principal, Advisory Services at KPMG. “We’ve evolved [technologically] so fast in just a few years,” he said, it may be hard to understand your role in government.
In Bates’ address last week to the Public Sector CIO Academy in Sacramento, hosted by Government Technology, he theorized that the human species is quickly evolving because of this technological change. “The reboot of the planet’s OS is more than just innovation; more than disruption, we are in the process of reprogramming humanity” he said. Just think about what you know about how rapidly politics, religion, markets and consumer behavior have changed [over the past five years].”
He pointed to the revolutionary implications of new technologies like 3-D bioprinting for no-wait list transplantation; a new process of growing steel with a little electricity and water that leaves behind the mining and smelting industries wholesale; and delivering all sorts of goods to consumers, whether they are banking online or need toilet paper, fast and cheap.
Medicine has taken a great leap forward, thanks to technology, he said. Recent advances have enabled 3-D printing of biocompatible materials, cells and supporting components in the creation of complex 3-D functional living tissues. This type of printing has application in regenerative medicine to address the need for tissues and organs suitable for transplantation. In fact, bioprinting to generate and transplant several tissues, such as multilayered skin, bone, vascular grafts, tracheal splints, heart tissue and cartilaginous structures, is already in use.
Startup company Modumetal, Bates said, is rewriting how steel is manufactured with a nanolaminated alloy that is stronger and lighter than steel, more corrosion resistant than galvanized metal, more durable than chrome and is manufactured through a process that uses electricity, rather than heat and water, allowing it to be manufactured at near room temperature. The metal product will enable users to “grow” parts, eliminating entire steps from the conventional metals manufacturing process. “This allows the growing of metals that minimize the impact to the environment, increase safety to the employee, and creates a more valuable product,” he said. The result: a huge disruption to the steel industry.
Technological innovation has shifted the way consumers interact with all businesses, enabling them to conduct banking transactions or shop for basic goods on their smartphones. “There is no standing at the window anymore,” he said. “When banks emerged from the financial crisis, they woke up to a new kind of customer.”
In the face of all this change, what is your place in government, asked Bates. “You cannot run IT services in the same ways you have always done,” he said. “Your workforce is changing dramatically.” The top five jobs in IT
— chief data officer, data scientist, social media manager, user experience designer, cloud service manager — did not exist five years ago, he added.
“Think about it, ten years ago cybersecurity wasn’t on the radar, and now you are protecting the most important assets of California — the sixth largest economy in the world,” he pointed out. “This is a huge challenge.”
Government CIOs must proactively connect internal users and citizens to IT solutions in an age of continuous disruption and transformation. “These demands require them to acquire new skills to be brokers, integrators and orchestrators,” said Bates.
As brokers, CIOs must be able to understand the role of each government agency, work closely with them, help them understand emerging technologies and ecosystems and how these new technologies might enhance services for citizens. “There is an unlimited demand for IT services [in government] now,” he said. “Brokers must be able to shape these demands and channel it to the highest value services using modern platforms. Brokers must be enterprise architects and sourcing experts.”
The IT broker leverages knowledge of government strategy, government processes and market offerings to assist department or agency leaders in selecting the most appropriate products and services to meet its requirements, wherever possible, choosing standardized services rather than a unique, customized approach, explained Bates. Enterprise architects must design and develop a pluggable, modular architecture that can accommodate the accelerating change of new technologies.
Architects also must be able to simplify the enterprise, and drive usage to standard package functionality in key domains like CRM (customer relationship management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), and supply chain, while reducing the number of applications in the portfolio. They must be able to design service systems for resiliency.
Architects need to design architectures that are “self-healing,” with built-in mechanisms to detect significant degradations or outright outages and automatically reroute workloads to alternative sites, or reduce functionality to maintain acceptable performance.
For example, existing architectures have evolved organically over time and are now overly complicated and restrictive, according to Bates. As they were initially designed to avoid risk, they have become barriers to change and innovation.
“Brokers must know how to migrate these systems to replace and enable legacy systems gradually,” he said. “You want to avoid the proliferation of digital systems, but you may not have enough employees to enact a complete overhaul.”
Today’s integrators have the challenge of taking legacy systems that are predominantly an organization’s core applications, comprised of systems that include financial, customer and employee information, and redesigning them for an evolving digital ecosystem.
Integrators are establishing an integration center of excellence by bringing standards and best practices into the system processes, explained Bates. They integrate, evaluate and select the required tooling; they document and create best practices. They manage API (application programming interface) governance and the API repository. Integrators also develop an initial set of integration APIs, create and manage a framework for API governance, and populate and maintain a repository of standard integration APIs. They develop and train business analysts, developers and ecosystem partners on the new systems; they consult and advise the business development units throughout the project life cycle.
Today’s government is underpinned by a complex portfolio of technology-enabled capabilities sourced from an ever-expanding ecosystem. “The complexity of this ecosystem is only going to increase,” said Bates.
The orchestrator role helps to transform traditional IT services to IT-as-a-Service, and ensures that performance, cost and quality are meeting or exceeding expectations, that data is secure and compliant, and the government agency is getting optimal value. The goal is to hide the complexity and provide the same ease of use and responsiveness of the consumer online experience to procuring business services. This work is essential if the business’ increasing expectations are to be met, and a genuine return on investment is to be realized.
The orchestrator must be able to build and manage a set of user services, manage vendor relationships, protect the enterprise and monitor service delivery, he said.
Bates believes that if you change the delivery model of government services, it changes the fabric of society. People who take on these roles, whether organically or planned, must keep in mind that ultimately they are serving the people of California.
“You must speak the language of your consumers and engage them and allow them to control the value lever,” he said. Don’t forget, “consumers want value and a seamless experience.”
In the quest to update and modernize government IT, groups can save money in their search to serve citizens by accessing a partner’s research and development (R&D). “Your vendor relationships are no longer just transactions,” he concluded. “To stay abreast of change, build access to their R&D so you will know what offerings they have and what market knowledge they may retain.”
Editor's note: This story has been adjusted to clarify the statements made by KPMG.