Legacy mindset causing governments to lag on technology

Government technology trends have the potential to revolutionise services, but the public sector’s legacy mindset and resistance to change means that opportunities are being missed, an expert says.

Dean Lacheca

Research and advisory company Gartner has identified the top ten government technology trends for 2019-2020, including adaptive security, digital identity, augmented reality, multichannel citizen engagement, digital product management and shared services.

Senior  researcher Dean Lacheca says there are strong levels of understanding across all levels of government about these trends, but most agencies are not ready for change.

“The number one feedback that we constantly get is organisational culture is not ready for the level of change that is required,” he told Government News.

“When it comes to technology, certainly legacy is one of the biggest inhibitors to actively moving forward in some of these areas, and part of that comes with funding and budget.”

Differences in behaviour across each tier of government

Gartner’s research also found differences in behaviour across the tiers of government.

“At a local government level, they’re really close to the citizen so they understand more directly the citizen-facing requirements than sometime state and federal understand, but we are seeing different behaviours at every level,” he said.

However, consistent across all tiers of government is an understanding of the importance of addressing the needs of citizens, Mr Lacheca said.

Multichannel citizen engagement is often used, where governments meet citizens on their own terms and via their preferred channels.

“Not everyone is at the point of delivering an effective multi-level channel, but there’s a much higher focus on human-centred design, understanding the needs of citizens and trying to build the solutions to better match the citizens’ needs,” he said.

Digital identity can’t be ignored

Mr Lacheca cited digital identity as an important issue to tackle, but doesn’t believe any levels of government are doing this well.

“Everyone’s having a go at digital citizen identity, there’s no clear winner at this stage,” he said.

According to Mr Lacheca, this is because of Australia’s history of dealing with digital identity and the challenges of defining it.

“Multiple government organisations have identifiable information about a citizen but there is, quite rightly, concerns about how that information is shared,” he said

“Who has access to it? Who should be controlling how that information is shared? So it becomes a challenge of the history of government.”

But Mr Lacheca says digital identity cannot be ignored.

“Every state, and at a national level, we definitely need to sort out citizen digital identity because it is a fundamental building block going forward,” he said.

Including trends in strategic planning

Government CIOs looking to include these trends in their strategic planning should start by looking at the outcomes they want to achieve, Mr Lacheca said.

They should focus on the outcomes rather than the technology and take a human-centered approach, he said.

“(It’s) understanding the people that you’re trying to support, whether that be your workforce or the citizen or business in the community, and understanding how that fits,” he said.

Each organisation will have different levels of strategies depending on its department, however, it boils down to three things, Mr Lacheca said.

“It’s all about three strategies: human-centered design, a focus around how to be smarter with the data that we have… and how to create platforms that link our partners and government together to achieve outcomes,” he said.

Once these have been included in strategies, “from those three areas, you start to see the trends become an obvious next step,” Mr Lacheca said.

To decide on a trend to adopt, he recommended Agile by Design as a good starting point. This approach gives CIOs a set of principles and practices to develop more agile systems and solutions.

Although this can be difficult to implement, due to the legacy in government organisations, Mr Lacheca said this should not be an inhibitor.

“What we know from the last ten years of technology is that the next ten years of technology is going to be just as unpredictable,” he said.

If implemented correctly, Agile by Design can be very useful for governments, Mr Lacheca said.

“If governments invest in it correctly, it will definitely reduce expenditure in the future and free up or accelerate their ability to respond to change,” he said.

Top 10 government technology trends for 2019-2020:

  • Adaptive Security – an adaptive security approach that treats risk, trust and security as a continuous and adaptive process and anticipates and mitigates evolving cyber threats
  • Citizen Digital Identity – the ability to prove an individual’s identity via government digital channels. Governments say it is critical for inclusion and access to services, but critics have raised privacy concerns
  • Multichannel Citizen Engagement: The use of multiple channels to engage with citizens, including in person, by phone, via mobile device through smart speakers, chatbots or augmented reality
  • Agile by Design – the creation of nimble and responsive business, information and technical architecture environment
  • Digital Product Management – the process of developing, delivering, monitoring, refining and retiring digital “products”
  • Anything as a Service (XaaS) – the full range of IT services delivered in the cloud on a subscription basis
  • 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 where employees have the training, technology and autonomy to work on digital transformation initiatives
  • Analytics Everywhere – the pervasive use of analytics at all stages of business activity and service delivery
  • Augmented Intelligence – a human-centered partnership model of people and artificial intelligence working together to enhance cognitive performance.

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One thought on “Legacy mindset causing governments to lag on technology

  1. A big thing here to adopt before you go out to purchase any technology is to clearly know what you really want to achieve as the end result including KPI,s at stages along the way. Most importantly undertake business process management before anything else is contemplated. You will be very surprised what can be achieved by doing this not least a complete understanding of Departmental activities. I concur with you on the need for cultural change but I also think that stronger directives from management at the top has its place as well in achieving the outcomes wanted, along with a high degree of collaboration from staff through to top level management. Lastly please please that the tender and contract process is robust enough to prevent cost overuns – non compliance and all the other issues that can effect the implementation of new technology. We have seen enough debacles where money is wastefully outlayed on not only technology with no effective outcome but other projects as well.

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