December 29, 2010    /    by

Government IT Trends to Watch in 2011

It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be recapping 2010 and making technology predictions for 2011. Here are my favorite predictions and some important trends to watch regarding government technology infrastructures for 2011.

   It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be recapping 2010 and making technology predictions for 2011. While I don’t plan on recapping the first decade again or make any bold predictions for the future, I will offer some important trends to watch in government technology infrastructures for 2011.

But before I do that, here are a few of the top 2011 technology prediction articles that I have read by others:

Consumer technologies (from the United Kingdom) – From mobile payments to more social gaming to new TV options, this should be a very exciting technology year.

 13 Mobile Predictions – This area is so hot that mobile-mania now needs its own category.

 Gartner Predictions for 2011 - Although you need to pay for the detailed write-ups on each topic, it’s worth the time to just scan their free summaries to gain an overview of where technology and management are heading, in their view.

I don’t know what “Technobabble 2.0” is, but I like this post with several predictions from different IT websites.  If there was a “Technobabble 1.0” – I missed it. Nevertheless, how about these bold predictions:

1.      By 2016, a G20 nation’s critical infrastructure will be disrupted and damaged by online sabotage….

2.      By 2015, 10 per cent of your online "friends" will be nonhuman. (I doubted this until my daughter just told me that she already has a nonhuman friend now who she plays rock/paper/scissors with her and answers a variety of her questions.)

As far as Government Technology goes, 2011 should be a pivotal year in the USA in many respects. A large number of states will be appointing new CIOs, and many states have new Governors with new agendas. In addition, many state and local government are considering significant changes to their IT governance models and/or privatized IT.    

Even our federal counterparts are implementing significant changes in IT Management as they push a cloud first policy and other reform initiatives. There seems to be a new focus on measureable results and smaller deliverables with shorter-term schedules coming from the DC beltway. Hopefully, this trend will help state and local governments as well, if we can utilize federal contract vehicles which save money or offer better service.

So what technology trends do I see for state and local governments in 2011? Most of these will not surprise readers, so I call them trends rather than predictions. There certainly are no big surprises on my list.

Security and Consolidation are still near the top of everyone’s to do list. Given my background in security, I still blog occasionally for CSO Magazine on security topics as a CTO. A few months back, I wrote this article which describes the latest on this trend. Put more bluntly, security is an area that will get government technology leaders in trouble in a hurry, if ignored. Don’t assume anything regarding smart phones, cloud computing or Software as a Service (SaaS). Even if you outsource a function, make sure that you have the right security language in your contracts.

One more thing on security: I thought that security “peaked” as an issue a few years ago, but over the past year I realize that we are right back to square one regarding mobile apps and cloud computing. That is, we are going through the same new technology issues and trials that we did in the first part of this century. I now believe that security will be hot for another decade – at least.

Support for More Mobile Devices and Apps – Yep, we now need to support many different tablets and smartphones. Get used to it. Sticking to the blackberry on full-size PCs won’t cut it with the new teams coming in. They like iPhones, iPads, Droids and more. Nope, the Blackberry isn’t going away either, so we need to figure out how to truly do more with less in managing this area. Mobility is the new normal and part of the consumerization of IT; however, it is also the place where employees and citizens are increasingly accessing government data from. Bottom line, we need better plans and strategies for mobile devices and apps.

Even more virtualization, consolidation, SaaS and cloud computing – Again, no surprise here. Some of this work will be outsourced in 2011, but that will vary from state to state. The focus should be on creating plans to “right-size” efforts based upon skill sets, technology needs and priorities. Many states, such as Minnesota, continue to consolidate data centers, or move email to private sector partners.    

I realize that these trends are not earth-shattering, but they will be challenging in 2011. State and local governments face very difficult budgets, and there will be pressure for quick results that lower costs now and improve services as well. This pressure will probably create a few train wrecks along the way on the operational side – so expect to see one or more stories similar to the events that occurred in Virginia in 2010.

It should be a very interesting year. What are your thoughts on 2011?