Governmental organizations can now turn their IT teams into technology innovators
By Gerard Gallant
Today, the pressure on government organizations is daunting as they are being asked to do more with less. They are being challenged to guide strategic Information Technology (IT) initiatives, create new platforms to support innovation, and stay on top of mobile devices and emerging technologies.
According to a recent Motorola Solutions survey, 60 percent of public safety agencies plan to invest in broadband communications by 2014, despite overall budget concerns. Four in 10 government IT leaders intend to jettison legacy equipment in favor of cloud technology services in the next two years. Yet too many IT budgets are being held hostage by existing system maintenance and operations costs – with a whopping 70 percent identified in the public sector.
Government CIOs and IT directors are wondering how to best utilize resources and move their IT staff away from day-to-day application and legacy system maintenance, so they are free to address the innovations that will help government organizations deliver better services to their constituents. They are seeking cost-effective ways to bring greater efficiencies and improve productivity for their operations. In fact, improving business process and efficiency is a top priority for 69 percent of businesses.
The convergence of technologies across public safety and other government agencies means IT must shift its focus to turn the information flowing into its networks into intelligence, and turn that intelligence into creating safer cities and thriving communities. From operating systems to remote access, the list of specialized skills IT teams must renew and acquire to keep pace is proliferating. While the list is growing, so is the loss of qualified personnel. In Massachusetts, 40 percent of the IT workforce is retiring in the next five years; in Nevada, it’s up to 50 percent.
The skills gap is so pervasive, 93 percent of employers acknowledge it among their IT staff and 80 percent believe their businesses have been affected by it. Nearly 50 percent are convinced that changing technology is the main reason for the IT skills gap.
Like many organizations, government organizations are managing applications across an entire array of devices. For instance, public safety personnel may insist on bringing their personal devices to work as the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend takes hold. This creates a new set of challenges for government CIOs as they need to maintain control over all applications and devices without increasing cost, handle updates and ensure security, as well as integrate applications across different types of devices.
LOOK OUTSIDE THE OFFICE TO LOWER COSTS, IMPROVE SERVICES, AND DELIVER EFFICIENCIES
Government IT leaders continue to be challenged to improve service delivery while lowering costs. Rather than asking their IT departments to perform unproductive heroics, CIOs can look outside their time-crunched, skills-strapped organizations to tap into third-party resources. By shifting the burden of applications and device management to a trusted external team with specialized skill sets to keep complex systems running flawlessly, they can eliminate support headaches, speed up response time 24/7/365, and free talent to tackle more strategic IT projects.
Government agencies are being asked to implement, deploy and manage complex mission-critical application systems with aggressive timelines and advanced skills they may not possess. And IT staff often doesn’t have the time, technology or training to stay current with security issues like vetting and patching or software and hardware refreshes.
What can government CIOs do to accomplish it all? The answer is simple. They can turn over the day-to-day management and maintenance to an expert provider, so they can focus their resources where they are best utilized. By having access to expert resources outside their teams, government CIOs can sustain a more nimble operation at a predictable monthly cost, while reducing their system downtime and better adapting to new technology. In addition, third-party experts can help them holistically review their infrastructure and current applications to ensure they are running smoothly with proactive, adaptive, preventive and corrective maintenance.
Today, government CIOs have several options that can help them maximize the significant investment they made in their infrastructure, from capital to personnel to technology. A hosted and managed application model can help them strike the right balance between decreasing IT management and maintenance costs and increasing the funds for transformational initiatives. As an added benefit, government CIOs can keep their eyes on the prize: creating important innovations that increase services for their local citizens and lower costs for their government enterprises.
Gerard Gallant is the director for Application Hosting Offer Management at Motorola Solutions. He has spent more than 20 years developing, selling, and implementing software applications for public and private sector clients and is responsible for creating cloud-based application solutions that allow customers to focus on and achieve their core business missions.
“US IT Budget Benchmarks – Preparing for 2010”, Forrester Research, Inc., January 4, 2010
“IT Priorities 2012 – United States”, ZDNet, CBS Interactive
State CIO Panel at National Association of State Technology Directors, Baltimore, MD, August 28, 2012
State of the IT Skills Gap, CompTIA, February 2012