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Accelerating Digital Transformation for Government Agencies

Digital transformation has become a ubiquitous term in the business world in recent years, but it’s not happening solely in the private sector. Agencies across federal, state, and local governments have taken steps to adopt new technologies and modernize IT so they can better perform their work.

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Digital transformation has become a ubiquitous term in the business world in recent years, but it’s not happening solely in the private sector. Agencies across federal, state, and local governments have taken steps to adopt new technologies and modernize IT so they can better perform their work. For example, a recent survey found that 64 federal government agencies are using artificial intelligence (AI), often for gathering and analyzing data or communicating with citizens.

However, many state and local agencies have faced obstacles to adopting new technology, including low budgets, lack of trained personnel to handle new technology, and strict technology requirements, especially as they relate to security. But the current global pandemic has highlighted how important it is for agencies to run smoothly, even when demand for their services dramatically increases. State unemployment agencies across the country have faced never-before-seen demand, in many cases leading to long delays in claims processing. Meanwhile, state and local agencies have also needed to quickly support remote workers, drawing attention to the importance of reliable, secure technology to facilitate working from home.

In many agencies, these challenges have revealed how essential digital transformation is and have begun to accelerate the process of modernizing IT. Agencies looking to join in and take advantage of new technology have many options available to them. Three especially worth considering in these times are cloud computing, AI, and security upgrades.

The case for cloud computing

In 2017, Gartner found that half of government agencies were using cloud computing. The biggest reasons for adoption? The ability to deliver efficient services and see cost savings, which are both more important than ever. During the past few months, we’ve already seen how cloud computing can make services more efficient. While many state unemployment agencies couldn’t handle demand, those that had developed cloud-based applications generally fared better than others. Those running on outdated systems, on the other hand, often experienced website crashes.

In addition to helping workflows run smoothly, the cloud can offer cost savings over the long term. Agencies that move to the cloud can reduce their on-premise infrastructure footprint, so they don’t have to worry about future maintenance costs associated with that infrastructure.

Opt for built-in security whenever possible

Setting up best practices for antivirus software and encouraging safe, secure behavior is important, but agencies looking to really elevate endpoint protection should consider the devices themselves.

Many state and local government agencies work on outdated technology (one recent analysis found that one-third of state IT systems are outdated), and these old systems often lack modern security features. PCs and printers that come with security tools pre-installed can simplify security deployment and offer more layers of protection, making them a good option for those looking to upgrade.

HP aims to improve PC security by incorporating strong security tools into its systems. For example, one problem with antivirus software is that it can’t detect firmware threats below the operating system. HP Sure Start technology, which comes with all HP Elite PCs, addresses this problem by validating the integrity of the device’s BIOS code at startup, monitoring memory for a BIOS attack during operation, and forcing an immediate restart if the device is compromised. All HP PCs also come with HP Sure Run, which protects firewall, antivirus, and security applications from malware attacks.

Built-in security tools can also protect endpoints if employees accidentally click on malicious links. HP Sure Click assists with this issue by opening browser tabs in individual virtual containers to protect the OS from infection. And in the event a device does become compromised or the hard drive is erased, HP Sure Recover enables IT to quickly recover the operating system so your employee can get back to work.

Hardware with these kinds of embedded features offers a solid foundation for endpoint security.

AI offers a helping hand

Artificial intelligence might sound like something that belongs in the realm of technology companies, but it’s actually helping many government agencies get work done—often in conjunction with cloud technology. One of the most common uses of AI in government is chatbots, which are frequently used to answer routine questions. These chatbots can free up the workforce’s time, and some state agencies have seen opportunities to implement this technology during the pandemic.

AI can also help government agencies be more forward-thinking. What do they want the future of their city or town to look like? Smart city technology often relies on AI to gather and analyze data, and can be applied to issues like improving traffic flow and monitoring pollution levels. These applications might sound simple, but they can actually improve the daily lives of many people.

Government agencies need to find ways to operate more efficiently; AI is one promising solution that can both ease the workloads of employees and increase customer satisfaction. Plus, AI’s benefits will likely extend way beyond handling the demands of the current pandemic.

The need for security upgrades

Investing in technologies that enable efficiency is an integral part of digital transformation, but agencies should also take steps to avoid unnecessary setbacks like security breaches.

Just consider how long it would take your agency to get back up and running after a serious ransomware attack. The time spent fixing the problem would be costly, and the risk associated with potentially stolen personal information could also pose big problems. Security issues aren’t limited to large attacks, either. Even small attacks that take an individual member of the workforce offline can cause real headaches and impede work.

Some lawmakers have expressed interest in investing in cybersecurity in recent months, so there may be opportunities for state and local agencies to upgrade their security. If possible, consider investing in hardware that’s inherently secure, which makes it easier for your IT team to deploy and keep an eye on endpoint devices and for your workforce to stay safe—wherever they’re working.

HP PCs and printers, for example, come with built-in security solutions that protect from firmware attacks, malware, phishing, and other security threats that have only grown more common during this global pandemic.

Is now the time for technology investment?

In the face of increased demand for services, many state and local government agencies have already accelerated their efforts to modernize their technology. The CARES Act passed in March 2020 included funding for state and local governments and could enable IT departments to continue with technology upgrades.

During any time of uncertainty, it’s wise to look for ways to ensure secure, efficient processes in the future, so it’s likely digital transformation in government will remain a topic of discussion for the foreseeable future. If you’d like to learn more about technology options available to you, take a look at HP’s solutions for government.