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April 2, 2015

Gov’t CIOs urged to shift from ‘legacy first’ to ‘digital first’

Decreasing budgets remain huge obstacle to modernisation efforts.

By Ellie Burns

Legacy technologies in government are hampering CIOs’ efforts to digitise their organisations, according to the latest CIO survey by Gartner.

The survey reveals that infrastructure and data centre is the top technology priority for global government and private sector CIOs, with business intelligence and analytics coming in as the second top priority.

With vendors capturing more of the public-sector cloud market, the survey suggests that it is highly probable that government IT organisations will slowly reduce their role as infrastructure providers and data centre operators.

Instead, they will serve as a broker of those foundational services and orient IT capabilities from "legacy first" to "digital first" by inserting a "Why not cloud?" step into all planning.

"By shifting the management and provisioning of infrastructure to centralized government shared-service entities or to viable commercial vendors, government CIOs can lead by example and update IT management techniques to adopt the design-for-change mindset that is essential in the digital age," said Rick Howard, research director at Gartner.

"In relatively short time, cloud has moved from a concept, to a possibility, to a viable option and, for a small minority of government CIOs, is now first choice when a project comes along."

Government agencies are becoming more comfortable with cloud solutions based within their regional or national borders for reasons of subscription pricing and increased business agility. The survey revealed how Australia, the US and the UK are all aggressively pushing forward with supporting cloud-first strategies.

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"With cost, value and security as top considerations, government CIOs should begin with the assumption that public cloud is the preferred deployment option and then, if necessary, work back from public cloud to the cloud, co-location or on-premises option that provides the best fit for their business environment," said Mr Howard.

"When interrelated processes and services are coordinated and delivered by multiple government and nongovernment organisations — enabled by context-sensitive data exchange — government performance and social outcomes will be truly transformed."

Weighing heavily on CIOs across the board is the second top tech priority, business intelligence and analytic capabilities. The opportunities to enhance government services will increasingly involve unstructured, harder-to-process information, such as multimedia and social information.

With backward-looking reporting less and less valuable, government CIOs need to develop the capabilities to generate forward-looking predictive analytics and combine this information with data-led experimentation to create the future.

Despite, modernisation leading the top five tech priorities for CIOs in 2015, decreasing IT budgets remain a huge obstacle. Lower budgets are impacting federal and national governments (30%), meaning securing funds to invest in legacy modernisation is ever harder.

State, local and regional government CIOs are also facing the same budget challenges (15%), with the survey revealing a strong regional variation in IT budgets.

For example, 27% of the SLR government CIOs surveyed in the EMEA region indicate their IT budgets are declining, whereas only 9 per cent of the SLR government CIOs in North America report the same.

Similarly, the issue of declining budgets appears to be particularly acute in all tiers in the Asia/Pacific region.

Gartner’s 2015 CIO Agenda surveyed over 2,800 CIOs worldwide on their top digital business opportunities, threats and strategies and includes responses from 343 government CIOs.


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