Data analytics and cybersecurity have pushed cloud out of the top spot for increased technology investment by government CIOs in 2019, according to a survey from Gartner.
This increased focus on data reflects CIOs’ acknowledgment that artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics will be the top “game-changing” technologies for government this year.
Government respondents are classified into national or federal; state or province (regional); local; and defense and intelligence, to identify trends specific to each tier.
“Taking advantage of data is at the heart of digital government — it’s the central asset to all that government oversees and provides,” says Rick Howard, VP analyst at Gartner.
“The ability to leverage that data strategically in real time will significantly improve government’s ability to seamlessly deliver services, despite increased strain on finite resources.”
“AI introduces new insights and delivery channels that will enable governments to scale in magnitudes not previously possible,” says Howard.
Taking advantage of data is at the heart of digital government
“This will allow reallocation of valuable human resources to more complex processes and decisions.”
Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda Survey gathered data from 3,102 CIO respondents in 89 countries and across major industries, including 528 government CIOs.
Among government respondents, 10 per cent have already deployed an AI solution, 39 per cent intend to deploy in the next one to two years, and an additional 36 per cent intend to deploy an AI solution within the next two to three years.
Among all levels of government, business intelligence (BI) and data analytics (43 per cent), cyber/information security (43 per cent) and cloud services/solutions (39 per cent) are the most common technology areas for increased technology investment in 2019. Cloud dropped from first place last year to second overall for 2019.
Howard says the fact that cybersecurity remains an area of projected increased spending reflects government’s recognition of its role as the steward of public data, with secure transactions now table stakes for governments in a digital world.
“In today’s digital world, cyberattacks are highly visible, increasingly malicious and costly, and they erode the public’s trust,” Howard says.
“Government CIOs have steadily increased their prioritisation of cybersecurity over the years and have gained executive commitment to vigilance in ensuring that ever-evolving malicious attacks and threats are mitigated to the greatest extent possible.”
Wanted: Vetted use cases for blockchain
Blockchain was recognised as a game-changing technology for the future by a small percentage of respondents across all levels of government this year, says Gartner.
The survey finds just 2 per cent of government CIOs have deployed a blockchain/distributed ledger solution. An additional 19 per cent of government CIOs expect to deploy blockchain technology within the next one to two years.
Blockchain is a technologically sound concept, with many potential uses in government under exploration, in areas such as citizen identification, voting and conducting transactions, as well as for financial purposes.
However, Gartner say the lack of vetted use cases for blockchain in its early stages has caused slow investment in the area.
While CIOs are consistently optimistic about certain technologies, local government CIOs are more bullish about the potential for the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile technologies as compared to other levels of government, at 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, notes Gartner.
This is not surprising, it says, as local governments provide regionalised and more direct delivery of services, and implement smart city programmes, among others, to manage growing populations and enhance public safety.
Critical investment: Communications
The survey finds public sector CIOs face continued challenges in executing digital transformation.
The most common barriers cited were insufficient resources (45 per cent), funding (39 per cent) and business culture blocking change (37 per cent). Funding and budgets for digitalisation resources, including the IT skill sets needed to execute against digital vision (33 per cent) remained a challenge for many CIOs.
Resistance to change within the business divisions (37 per cent) and IT divisions (20 per cent) can cause innovation to stall, says Gartner.
In order to overcome these barriers, Gartner says it is imperative for government CIOs to communicate more consistently with stakeholders in business terms to better understand the challenges they are facing in achieving the missions of their respective departments.
They can discuss how technology may provide solutions to ultimately improve the organisation’s ability to meet those challenges and goals and to improve overall outcomes.
“Focus on nontechnical, mission-oriented terminology to gain understanding,” advises Gartner.
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