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Could these IT developments build a 'smart government'?

April 22, 2014
By TEKsystems

Technology might not be able to shape the people who are in office, but it could help government agencies run more efficiently and effectively. Gartner recently identified 10 IT trends that its analysts thought would contribute to a 'smart government'—a political body bolstered by integrated information, communication and operational technologies across its service areas.

The 'Nexus of Forces'
At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Dubai, which was held April 1-3, Gartner posited that the intersection of four "powerful forces" is fueling innovative developments in government. This "Nexus of Forces," as the research company deemed it, is the meeting point of social, mobile, cloud and information technologies.

Gartner's top ten list includes the following strategic approaches, many of which are trends shaping enterprises in other industries as well

1. Personal mobile workplace: Government organizations need to be aware of security concerns that accompany the inevitable use of personal devices for professional activities.

2. Mobile citizen engagement: Political bodies expressed interest in offering more citizen-facing programs with mobile-first designs, depending on demographics and preferences.

3. Big Data and actionable analytics: Organizations are seeking ways to put consolidated data resources to use, from healthcare management to public safety initiatives.

4. Cost-effective open data: In addition to managing data that falls under the Freedom of Information Act, government groups need to share information with each other and require the proper IT resources.

5. Citizen-managed data: Citizen data vaults provide greater transparency for people's growing expectations and demands regarding their personal information, though the systems come with significant challenges, from data availability to security.

6. Hybrid IT and the cloud: Around the world, political bodies are shifting their operations to hybrid cloud arrangements, with certain sensitive operations being allocated to government clouds and non-critical applications migrating to public solutions.

7. Internet of Things: Huge volumes of data created by the IoT are offering "smart cities" and other jurisdictions opportunities to optimize initiatives in areas such as transportation, environmental and public safety.

8. Cross-domain interoperability: Information gathered from internal and external sources must be able to integrate to prove useful for smart government processes, including obtaining economies of scale.

9. BPM for case management: Both decision-centric cases and investigative cases require systems that can accommodate unstructured and semi-structured data.

10. Gamification for engagement: Government entities need to motivate employee and citizen engagement, just as any business does. With its appeal to human nature and embrace of a little fun, gamification can inspire greater user activity and participation.

Gartner suggested that government groups work with their IT support teams to factor these trends into their strategic planning.

Naturally, security is also a major driver supplementing most government IT initiatives. Bloomberg Businessweek noted that the Pentagon plans to triple its staff devoted to cybersecurity by 2016, with the FBI also planning an IT recruiting spree focused on security. These two agencies alone will seek to employ 6,000 cybersecurity pros in the next two years, the news source observed.

Governments are transforming
Gartner's insights come as research by the Economist Intelligence Unit has revealed that UK government organizations have already undergone extensive technological development, but most executives believe they need to change faster still to keep up with the latest advancements, Information Age reported. The report indicated that 71 percent of government agencies have undergone changes rooted in technology in the past three years, and the majority have a vision for how their organization can continue to advance.

To accommodate these changes and take advantage of technology, such as the trends Gartner identified as most influential, government organizations need sufficient IT support teams and experts who can apply new tools to marketing and other initiatives, Information Age observed. The study found that this area was proving to be a challenge for agencies: Recruiting staff and bolstering IT functions were some of the top areas in which leaders expected to see change and difficulty.

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