Government IT spending: Priorities (and where the money’s going)

Published on the 17/01/2018 | Written by Newsdesk

Cloud, cybersecurity and analytics hot for 2018…

Cloud solutions, cybersecurity and analytics are the top technologies targeted for new and additional spending by public sector CIOs in 2018, while data centre infrastructure is the most commonly targeted for cost savings. That’s according to a survey from Gartner; recently, the researcher said it expects solid growth in all IT spend globally with an increase of 4.5 percent worldwide (taking total spending to a hefty US$3.7 trillion). The research also indicates disparities in the priorities of government CIOs over their private sector counterparts.

As government CIOs look forward to the new year, they have indicated where the budget will be allocated. Sixteen percent said they plan to increase spending on business intelligence (BI) and analytics (16 percent) and data management (six percent).

IN a statement, Gartner said these insights are drawn from its 2018 CIO Agenda Survey which polled 3,160 respondents in 98 countries including 461 government CIOs. The researcher said government respondents are segmented into national or federal; state or province (regional); local; and defence and intelligence, to identify trends specific to each tier.

Digital transformation is the top-ranked business priority among government CIOs overall, followed by security and governance.

“Digital transformation revolves around data. To be successful, public sector CIOs need to focus on expanding their data and analytics capabilities and creating a data-centric culture, by increasing the availability of open data and APIs for internal use and public consumption,” said Rick Howard, Gartner research VP. “Building out data analytics infrastructure is fundamental to improving government program outcomes and services to citizens.”

The survey found that digital business/digital transformation is more important for government (first priority for 18 percent of respondents) than for all industries (17 percent), with the exception of defence and intelligence agencies (six percent). Private sector companies ranked it second, after growth/market share. The next three business priorities for government are security, safety and risk (13 percent); governance, compliance and regulations (12 percent); and technology initiatives/improvements (11 percent).

“Government CIOs have conflicting priorities – to bring transformative change to their organisations, while pursuing compliance-oriented priorities,” said Howard. “They will need to work constructively with other business leaders to agree how to balance risk and innovation to support digital transformation.”

Top technologies to achieve the organisation’s mission
In response to the question “Which technology investment is most crucial to achieving your organisation’s mission?” cloud and BI/analytics were mentioned by 19 percent and 18 percent of government CIOs respectively, followed by infrastructure/data centre at 11 percent (see Table 1). National and federal CIOs are the exception, placing customer relationship management as a distant third. Other priorities are indicated in Table 1.

Table 1. Top Tech to Win

Rank Government Priorities % Respondents
1 Cloud services/solutions 19%
2 BI/analytics 18%
3 Infrastructure/data centre 11%
4 Digitalisation/digital marketing 6%
5 Customer relationship management 5%
6 Security and risk 5%
7 Networking, voice and data communications 4%
8 Legacy modernisation 4%
9 Enterprise resource planning 4%
10 Mobility/mobile applications 3%

Source: Gartner (October 2017)

Gartner pointed to four categories that differ markedly for government CIOs over other sectors:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) ranks among the top 10 technology area for the overall sample, but is not present for government (ranked 19th). The exception is defence and intelligence, where a greater percentage of CIOs mentioned AI (7 percent) over CIOs in other industries (6 percent).
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) are considered important by a greater percentage of federal or national CIOs (four percent) than other tiers of government or the private sector, which did not position APIs among the top 10 technologies.
  • Cloud services/solutions and infrastructure/data centre combined was ranked in the top 10 by 30 percent of government CIOs, compared with only 12 percent in all other industries. In contrast, digitalisation/digital marketing in the private sector sits at 16 percent, more than twice the rate in government (six percent).
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is a top 10 item for all industries, but is not present for government (ranked 12th). The two exceptions are local government due to smart city projects, as well as defence and intelligence, which relies on data flowing from sensors that monitor a wide range of activity.

“Many government CIOs are rebalancing capital expenditure (capex) and operating expenditure (opex) spending patterns to reduce technical debt, while making the strategic shift to cloud,” Howard said. “They should consider cloud as the means to accelerate the digitalisation of their organisations and enable the business optimisation that results.”

Consistent with ranking cloud, analytics and infrastructure/data centre as crucial to achieving the organisation’s mission, government CIOs also anticipate increased spending in these areas.

While only five percent of government CIOs considered security and risk as crucial to achieving the organisation’s mission, 17 percent expect to boost spending in cyber/information security. This indicates that security is not a competitive differentiator for government, but additional spending over historical levels in this area is warranted as a response to relentless attempts to exploit system vulnerabilities.

“The lessons of reputational damage and individual harm that can result from a data breach or compromised security have not been lost on business leaders,” Howard said. “Consequently, they’re willing to allocate more resources and attention to lower risk exposure from cyberattacks.”


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