Forward-looking government officials know that, in a digital society, “Policy is the technology and technology is the policy.” Any government service delivered at scale is underpinned by a host of technologies. If the success of these business projects is compromised by poor implementation of technology, then the political objectives are compromised too.
Implementing a digital government strategy is a journey that will span multiple budget cycles and political administrations
Public-sector leaders expect government CIOs to find ways that technology can reduce costs, create efficiencies, and improve outcomes for citizens and businesses. They also expect CIOs to consider the social, technological, economic, environmental and political trends that impact the constituents they serve.
Gartner’s top strategic technology trends for government
Gartner’s list of strategic government technology trends is designed to help CIOs establish the rationale, timing and priority of technology investments. These trends in information and technology were selected in response to pressing public-policy goals and business needs of government organizations in jurisdictions around the globe.
“Now more than ever, technology priorities must be established in the context of business trends such as digital equity, ethics and privacy, and the need for institutional agility,” says Rick Howard, Vice President Analyst, Gartner. “CIOs can use these trends to engage stakeholders, demystify concepts, and promote discussion about their value to citizens and society.”
Implementing a digital government strategy is a journey that will span multiple budget cycles and political administrations, Howard notes.
“The technology trends presented here do not represent what government CIOs are spending most of their time or budget on today,” Howard says. “Rather, it is Gartner’s list of strategic technology trends that are, should be or soon will be critical areas of focus for government CIOs as they transform public services.”
These top trends — which cover the next 12 to 18 months — will vary in importance depending on the tier of government (national, regional or local), region and business context. It is for this reason that they are not ranked in numeric order.
From ransomware targeting cities such as Baltimore, MD, to attacks on critical infrastructure assets in Ukraine and on parliaments (as in Australia), governments in all geographies and at all levels are under attack, driving the need for new security approaches.
An adaptive security approach treats risk, trust and security as a continuous and adaptive process that anticipates and mitigates constantly evolving cyberthreats. It acknowledges there is no perfect protection and security needs to be adaptive, everywhere, all the time.
Citizen digital identity
Digital identity — the ability to prove an individual’s identity via any government digital channel — is critical for inclusion and access to government services, yet many governments have been slow to adopt them. Government CIOs must provision digital identities that uphold both security imperatives and citizen expectations.
Multichannel citizen engagement
Governments that meet citizens via their preferred channels, for example, in person, by phone, via mobile device (over 50% of government website traffic now comes from mobile devices), smart speakers, chatbots or augmented reality, will meet citizen expectations and achieve program outcomes.
Agile by design
Digital government is not a “set and forget” investment. CIOs must create a nimble and responsive environment by adopting an agile-by-design approach, a set of principles and practices used to develop more agile systems and solutions that impact both the current and target states of the business, information and technical architecture.
Digital product management
In the 2019 Gartner CIO Survey, over two-thirds of government CIOs said they already have, or are planning to implement, digital product management (DPM). Often replacing a “waterfall” project management approach, which has a poor track record of success, DPM involves developing, delivering, monitoring, refining and retiring “products” or offerings for business users or citizens. It causes organizations to think differently and delivers tangible results more quickly and sustainably.
Anything as a service (XaaS)
XaaS covers the full range of IT services delivered in the cloud on a subscription basis. The 2019 Gartner CIO Survey also found that 39% of government organizations plan to spend the greatest amount of new or additional funding on cloud services. The XaaS model offers an alternative to legacy infrastructure modernization, provides scalability and reduces time to deliver digital government at scale.
Shared services 2.0
Many government organizations have tried to drive IT efficiencies through centralization or sharing of services, often with poor results. Shared services 2.0 shifts the focus from cost savings to delivering high-value business capabilities such as such as enterprisewide security, identity management, platforms or business analytics.
Digitally empowered workforce
A digitally enabled work environment is linked to employee satisfaction, retention and engagement — but government currently lags other industries in this area. A workforce of self-managing teams needs the training, technology and autonomy to work on digital transformation initiatives.
Gartner refers to the pervasive use of analytics at all stages of business activity and service delivery as analytics everywhere. It shifts government agencies from the dashboard reporting of lagging indicators to autonomous processes that help people make better decisions in real time.
Gartner recommends that government CIOs reframe artificial intelligence as “augmented intelligence,” a human-centered partnership model of people and artificial intelligence working together to enhance cognitive performance.