‘Sluggish’ Governments Are Overwhelmed By Pace Of IT Change

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Governments are failing to keep up with the pace of technical innovation, finds Gartner

Digital investments are proceeding slowly in governments around the world, in part due to skills shortages and organisational cultures focused on stability, according to a new study.

Gartner found that while government chief information officers (CIOs) expect that most of their business processes will be affected by digital technologies within the next five years, they are struggling to keep up with these changes.

Risky position

shutterstock_311125799The 379 government CIOs surveyed by Gartner for its report, estimated on average that 44 percent of their processes are currently undergoing digital change, with 62 percent to be affected within two years and 80 percent within five years.

“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,” stated Gartner research vice president Rick Howard.

He said governments should find a way to plan IT changes in a way that wasn’t affected by shifts caused by elections and the ensuing changes of administration.

“Progress toward higher levels of digital capability must not be slowed down or derailed by changes in executive leadership.”

Government IT budgets are relatively stable, with almost 40 percent of CIOs saying their budgets were growing this year, another 44 percent reporting stable budgets and only 17 percent expecting decreasing budgets. However, financial constraints stemming from rising economic uncertainty are playing a role in restricting IT projects,

Gartner argued that the broader adoption of cutting-edge processes such as crowdsourcing, working with startups and agile methodologies is “necessary” for governments, which the study found remain focused on simply delivering existing services more quickly.

Analytics and the cloud top priorities

Like industry as a whole, governments’ top focus for IT development is on business intelligence and analytics, the study found. But government CIOs are placing more emphasis upon the adoption of cloud services than industry as a whole, in part due to the cost-cutting possibilities offered by the cloud.

Industry as a whole places infrastructure and data centre investments as its second priority, with the cloud coming third, while those priorities are reversed for government CIOs. Other cited priorities for government CIOs were investing in mobile technology, security and the modernisation of legacy systems.

Digitisation was a much higher priority for Asia/Pacific, Europe and Middle East governments than in North America, reflecting sustained investments in this area over a number of years, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, Gartner said.

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