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SYDNEY, Australia, March 7, 2016

Gartner Survey Reveals Government Digital Transformation at Embryonic Stage

Shortages of Skilled Workers and Rigid Organizational Cultures Major Barriers to Implementing Digital Priorities

Despite the disruptive impact that digital transformation is having on organisations globally, it is still at the embryonic stage of maturity in government, according to the 2016 CIO Agenda survey by Gartner, Inc.

Analytics, infrastructure and cloud computing continue to be the top three technology priorities for government CIOs, but shortages of skilled workers and rigid organizational cultures are among the major barriers to implementing digital priorities.

The 2016 CIO Agenda survey asked 2,944 CIOs worldwide about their top digital business opportunities, threats and strategies, and includes responses from 379 government CIOs. The government survey data indicated that leveraging digital technologies to transform traditional operational and service models has risen to the top of the business agenda for many elected leaders and public officials.

"Government organizations require the sustained focus and commitment of successive administrations to realize the cumulative, step change benefits of moving from system or process-driven business models to operating as a platform within a digital ecosystem," said Rick Howard, research vice president at Gartner. 

"This calls for better succession management practices and behaviours in government. Progress toward higher levels of digital capability must not be slowed down or derailed by changes in executive leadership. Continuity of vision is the key to building on technology investments made by prior administrations." 

Disruption to business processes inevitable

Government CIOs estimate that 44 percent of business processes are now undergoing digital change, with 62 percent to be impacted within two years and 80 percent within five years. Whether a government CIO is pursuing quick, tactical wins on an ad hoc basis, or as directed by an enterprise digital business strategy, the survey revealed a unanimous agreement that significant digital disruptions to existing and future business processes are inevitable.

"With this much anticipated business process impact on the horizon, there is a high risk to CIOs of not being able to keep up with IT innovations," said Mr. Howard. "This risk will compound over the next five years if IT budget pressures increase and the spread of business unit level IT, or shadow IT, is not strategically coordinated and managed."

IT spending remains stable

The survey indicated that almost 40 percent of government CIOs believe their IT program budgets are growing in 2016; 44 percent will remain unchanged; and only 17 percent report decreasing budgets, mainly in federal and defense agencies. Despite stable or increasing budgets, financial constraints appear to be a contributing factor for the slow move to digital business in government. Economic uncertainty is on the rise, and it is unlikely overall government IT budget stability or growth will continue in 2016 at the levels reported in the past three years.

Changes to IT operating practices

The 2016 CIO Agenda revealed that government CIOs report a 34 percent adoption rate of bimodal IT, slightly behind private industry (38 percent). An additional 26 percent of CIOs in both sectors plan to operate bimodal IT organizations in the next three years. The survey data indicates that government CIOs remain focused on speed (faster delivery of predictable work), rather than leading the way toward exploration and exploiting the possible.

"The rapid adoption of bimodal practices — such as crowdsourcing, working with startups or small or midsize businesses, multidisciplinary teams, agile methodologies, bimodal subcultures and adaptive sourcing — is necessary for government CIOs," said Mr. Howard.

Technology priorities for 2016

The top areas of new technology spending in government make it clear that significant program focus continues to be on business intelligence and analytics, and that cloud continues to have significant momentum. Infrastructure and data center spending remains high on the list, particularly in North America, where it is tied with moving to cloud services as the top investment priority.

"Government CIOs are making the shift from owner-operator to cloud and service practices, which is becoming more dramatic as agencies move beyond the easy workloads of public-facing websites or business services with nonsensitive data, to even more highly regulated applications with sensitive data," said Mr. Howard.

Table 1. Top Technology Priorities in Government vs All Industries Worldwide for 2016

 

Government

All Industries

Business Intelligence and Analytics

1

1

Cloud

2

3

Infrastructure and Data Center

3

2

Mobile

4

6

Security

5

7

Legacy Modernization

6

9

Digitalization

7

5

Networking, Voice and Data Communications

8

8

ERP

9

4

Industry-Specific Applications

10

10

Source: Gartner (March 2016)

The 2016 CIO Agenda survey data showed CIOs in Asia/Pacific and EMEA place digitalization as a much higher priority than in North America. This reflects the maturing investments of sustained national e-government and digital government initiatives that have been underway for a number of years, specifically in Asia/Pacific and the Middle East.

More detailed analysis is available to Gartner clients in the report "2016 CIO Agenda: A Government Perspective."

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT), is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We are a trusted advisor and objective resource for more than 15,000 organizations in more than 100 countries — across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

To learn more about how we help decision makers fuel the future of business, visit gartner.com.

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