Now is the Time for Public-Sector CIOs to Modernize

A new tech trends report predicts a continuing "core renaissance” in which CIOs use lessons learned over time to modernize their legacy transactional systems, and inspire new services and growth at the core.

by / April 28, 2015

The government IT environment is ripe for a renaissance, and many CIOs are now thinking about ways they can use lessons learned over time to inspire new services and growth at the core, according to Deloitte’s sixth annual Tech Trends 2015: A Public Sector Perspective report, released April 27.

The report examines five macro forces that have combined to drive enormous public-sector transformation: digital, analytics, cloud, the renaissance of core systems and the changing role of IT within the enterprise.

According to the report, these forces are not just fueling innovation and giving rise to new business models – they are enabling historic advances in the business world and government alike.

“The report emphasizes that mission and business strategy without an associated IT strategy can be kind of weak,” said Mark White, Deloitte’s Global Consulting Technology CTO. “Similarly, IT strategy that’s not in support of a business strategy can be irrelevant.”

White said each of the trends identified in the report could disrupt the ways public-sector organizations engage with citizens, how work gets done, and how these agencies and IT organizations will interact and evolve.

The key trends are: CIO as the chief integration officer, application programming interface (API) economy, ambient computing, dimensional marketing, software-defined everything, core renaissance, amplified intelligence and IT worker of the future.

The report also includes suggestions for how government leaders can begin to tackle some of these areas. For instance, to move forward in ambient computing -- business value is derived from sensors that are woven together with analytics, data integration platforms and strong security -- the report suggests to pilot high-value use cases, learn from public-sector peers and not to reinvent the wheel.

Key among the trends is “core renaissance” – the idea that many public-sector IT organizations currently have a hodgepodge of technologies, tools and solutions. But with the latest wave of cloud, social and mobile technologies, now is the time for public-sector CIOs to focus on modernizing their legacy transactional systems.

To move forward with modernization, organizations should first consider an asset assessment --  take inventory and make decisions about which technologies are candidates for consolidation, elimination, outsourcing or endorsement, according to the report.

Next, agencies must have a clear vision for the short and long term. If they don't, the report states that modernization could result in disconnected technologies and more technical debt down the line.

Finally, CIOs should with internal stakeholders who understand the vision and need to revitalize the heart of the IT and business footprint -- they can help in promoting the potential benefits.

As for the API economy, though APIs are hardly new, state agencies are just unlocking their potential to improve customer service and achieve greater outcomes. Deloitte lists the “API economy” as one of the top disruptive forces that will have far-reaching impacts on agency services over the next 12-18 months, and can offer state governments greater efficiencies and abilities.

“Capitalizing on citizens’ insatiable appetite for data, increased expectations for improved customer service, and shrinking budgets that require delivering more services with less or stagnant funding, APIs enable sharing high-value data and content to facilitate smoother interaction between state governments and citizens,” the report states. “How they are harnessed holds big implications for service delivery, with the potential to lower friction between government and citizens and to unleash a torrent of information and capabilities.”

White said barriers still exist for state governments to capitalize on the API economy, but he said entities that “spend time, money and resources on integration architectures will harvest strong positive ROI and create more economical IT.”

Full realization of this “API economy” will require government to assemble a community of partners, including those from the open source and commercial marketplace, to create a thriving ecosystem. The report suggests agencies look for opportunities to create communities around APIs that can eventually become self-sustaining, focus on pilots to quickly determine which APIs are having the biggest impact and move to quickly abandon those that aren’t, and that CIOs and digital officers champion API initiatives in order to overcome organizational inertia.

The report also examines artificial intelligence (AI), an area where public-sector organizations tend to lag behind their commercial counterparts, many of which have started using artificial intelligence and natural language processing to improve their operational and analytical capabilities in a wide variety of ways.

“We see AI not just as using technology to replace humans in certain tasks,” said White. “But AI to amplify the exceptional to make the human more effective. This has incredible value not only in operational efficiency but also in employee satisfaction and stability.”

Justine Brown Contributing Writer