Cloud is a key tool to take municipalities into the post-COVID future
Nobody could have foreseen the COVID-19 crisis; and chances are, there are still unpredictable challenges ahead for public sector. Although there’s no crystal ball to tell us what’s next, cloud has become the most crucial tool to help public sector leaders take the fate of their municipalities into their own hands. Public sector leaders have come to realize the benefits of cloud are an imperative to positioning themselves for future success. And, as a result, the criticality of cloud was the No. 1 lesson learned for city leaders in 2020—cited by 88 percent of city leaders as their most urgent priority for investment, according to a study by ESI ThoughtLab.
Now that we know the importance of cloud, the next step is to consider what technical innovations can bring the most immediate value to state and local municipalities. Below are some innovative examples that highlight four key benefits:
Many cities and states rely on rigid, paper-based processes, hindering their ability to adapt. When unforeseen circumstances arise—and they inevitably will—the agility of cloud enables governments to respond and recover faster than ever before. Cloud offers a holistic, highly secure, and scalable solution that can be configured and expanded with emerging technologies to meet constituent needs.
Last year, Oklahoma had to figure out a way to help newly home-based workers get productive as quickly as possible. Oklahoma deployed a chatbot that let workers ask basic questions, such as how to reset a password, how to set up a VPN or how to download workplace applications. The chatbot was instrumental in reducing the volume of calls to the IT helpdesk and getting approximately 30,000 state employees up and running from home so they could keep providing vital constituent services. The quick deployment of the chatbot enabled Oklahoma to be agile in its operations.
The ESI ThoughtLab study also revealed that 60 percent of city leaders do not feel that their cities are safe from cyberattacks. With cloud, cities and states can benefit from multiple layers of security that make public clouds as secure as—if not more than—private clouds.
A cloud provider can share the responsibility of database assessment, protection, monitoring and compliance, addressing even the most complex city requirements. This means the onus is no longer solely on government IT personnel to manually protect against threats; the duty can instead be shared with a cloud vendor that can leverage the latest technology to rapidly detect and respond to threats.
With increasing citizen expectations and, in many cases, decreasing budgets, governments are up against a difficult conundrum; they need to find ways to do more with less. Cloud means city IT administrators don’t have to choose between price and performance. Cloud-based government agencies can take advantage of powerful cloud services to boost time- and cost-efficiency, without straining budgets or compromising security.
The state of Texas is one prime example, when the Texas Legislature charged the comptroller’s office with implementing a statewide ERP system for all agencies. To meet this mandate, the comptroller’s ProjectONE team opted to move application workloads and infrastructure to Oracle Cloud. Four key benefits motivated the decision—improved system performance, high application availability, the ability to easily add state agencies and a projected 50 percent cost savings. This level of efficiency gives governments an opportunity to rededicate time and money back to more strategic initiatives that improve the citizen experience.
For many cities and states, organizational silos stemming from highly manual, paper-based processes slow the flow of information and the ability to bounce back in times of crisis.
Governments need accurate, timely insights available across organizations to drive recovery. Timely access to information helps cities and states understand the conditions of their community, the impact of current programs, and the opportunities to improve their service delivery process. Cloud offers a single source of truth where employees can easily and securely access information. This improved flow of information creates transparency across organizations, helping government employees quickly align efforts.
Times of recovery are opportunities for innovation. When governments are re-building, it’s a chance to build back more data-driven, digitally enabled organizations that can better meet the needs of constituents.
Although I’m no prognosticator, I can say with certainty that cloud will be crucial for whatever lies ahead. The agility, security, efficiency and transparency of cloud will be of greater use to governments than a crystal ball could ever be.
William Sanders serves as director of Cloud Strategy, Oracle Government & Education. Previously Sanders served the state of Kansas as director of employment security for the Department of Labor, and as chief information officer for the Kansas Department of Labor.