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Virtualization, Consolidation Lead Next Year's Top Priorities for Public-Sector IT

NASCIO and Gartner rate technology strategies and applications for 2009.

by / December 28, 2008

With 50 years of tracking the country's hot 100 hits behind it, Billboard magazine now maintains more than a dozen charts for popular music - genre by genre, week to week. So it should not be too much for this page to maintain three charts about public-sector IT, year to year. What makes these charts interesting is the rise and fall of the hits, particularly those that hit the top 10 with a bullet - that is, entered the charts at a high position, or climbed rapidly, or is regarded as being on steep trajectory. It can be equally useful to watch those on the decline, especially those that drop like a spent shell casing.

The genres of most interest here are strategic technologies - as determined by Gartner - and priority technologies compiled by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), plus a policy-related chart originated by NASCIO on priorities. There are probably analogies to make between this trio and Billboard's pop, rock and country charts, but I'll leave the labeling to you.

Countdown veterans Casey Kasem, Rick Dees and Ryan Seacrest have made careers of intoning significance to placement and movement on the charts. So what does our amalgamated top 30 tell us about the Zeitgeist of the public-sector IT community?

2009 2008   Gartner Strategic Technologies
   1      5     Virtualization
   2      8     Cloud computing/computing fabric
   3      --    Servers - beyond blades
   4      7     Web-oriented architectures
   5      6     Enterprise mash-ups
   6      --    Specialized systems
   7     10    Social software/networking
   8      2     Unified communications
   9      --    Business intelligence
  10     1     Green IT

Looking across the three charts, virtualization tops both the Gartner and NASCIO technology lists. Virtualization tops the NASCIO technology chart for the second year running, just as consolidation defends its No. 1 finish on the NASCIO priority list. Consolidation and virtualization rock steady even as green IT (with which both are often paired) bounced widely, falling from No. 1 to No. 10 on the Gartner chart, even as it hit No. 6 with a bullet on the NASCIO technology charts.

Budget and cost control, enterprise resource planning (ERP) strategy, servers, single-purpose specialized systems, Web 2.0, business intelligence, transparency and mobility also hit at least one chart with a bullet - business intelligence did it on two of them. Cloud computing finished second on the Gartner list, but was conspicuously absent from both of the NASCIO charts.

Still, cloud computing, document management (including e-mail) and shared services were the incumbents from their respective top 10 lists that made the greatest year-to-year gains.

2009 2008   NASCIO Priority Technologies, Applications and Tools
   1      1     Virtualization
   2      8     Document/content/e-mail management
   3      5     Legacy application modernization and upgrade (ERP)
   4      7     Networking, voice and data communications, unified communications
   5      --    Web 2.0
   6      --    Green IT technologies and solutions
   7      6     Identity and access management
   8      4     Geospatial analysis and GIS
   9      --    Business intelligence and analytics applications
  10     --    Mobile work force enablement

2009 2008 2007    NASCIO Priority Strategies
   1      1      2     Consolidation
   2      6      3     Shared services
   3      --     --     Budget and cost control
   4      2      1      Information security
   5      4     16     Digital records management
   6      --     --     ERP strategy
   7      --     --     Green IT
   8      --     --     Transparency
   9      5      6      Health IT
  10     8     22     Governance

The network took a pretty good jostling in the yearly roundup. Converged voice, data and video networks enjoyed a three-position bump on the NASCIO tech chart. Even as unified communications enjoyed a bounce on the NASCIO chart, it fell six places on Gartner's list. And wireless slid off the NASCIO charts, as did connectivity and interoperability.

It's noteworthy that disaster recovery also fell off the NASCIO charts and information security dropped another two positions to the fourth spot this year. Clearly security is still a priority, but there may be risk of losing interest in the hardest learned lesson of the last 10 years.

There aren't huge surprises in this top 30 list. The prominent placement of budget and cost control, ERP strategy and shared services are largely expected in that they all reflect the current fiscal climate. On the upside, the rapid ascendancy of Web 2.0, transparency and outfitting a mobile work force suggest that public CIOs are intent on having government join the Internet's return to its social roots.

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Paul W. Taylor Contributing Writer

Paul W. Taylor, Ph.D., is the editor-at-large of Governing magazine. He also serves as the chief content officer of e.Republic, Governing’s parent organization, as well as senior advisor to the Governing Institute. Prior to joining e.Republic, Taylor served as deputy Washington state CIO and chief of staff of the state Information Services Board (ISB). Dr. Taylor came to public service following decades of work in media, Internet start-ups and academia. He is also among a number of affiliated experts with the non-profit, non-partisan Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in Washington, D.C.

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