Huddle Q&A with Nishant Shah, government technology analyst at Ovum: Part I
There are many predictions surrounding US government technology in 2013, including data center consolidation, cloud computing and mobility. What do you feel will be the key technologies gaining ground over the next 12 months and why?
Generally, long-term shifts in technology, economics, climate, and geopolitics are forcing US government policy-makers and elected officials to make a choice: begin preparing for the future; or risk security lapses, an inability to compete for investment, and a generally decreased capability to support citizens. To do this while weighing the needs of cost control in the face of sequestration—massive, whole-of-government budget cuts that may come into play almost immediately—will be the defining challenge for 2013.
The technologies that become the darlings of US government IT are ones that can provide return on investment quickly and convincingly. Cloud computing clearly fits here, particularly platform as a service (PaaS), as well as advanced analytics used for better performance management, prediction, visualization, and cybersecurity. Collaboration technologies that improve the experience for government’s “customers”—which includes other agencies, citizens, and even non-citizens in the case of the State Department and Department of Defense–will also see an uptick in demand.
Finally, mobile technology is breaking down the digital divide. As my colleague Kevin Noonan puts it, “The old model of government was high-tech government and low-tech citizen. The new model is high-tech government and even higher-tech citizen.” Given that most citizen requests are in the “long tail”—many disparate incoming requests with higher marginal costs for fulfillment—a channel shift towards self-service is the need of the day, facilitated by government-enabled mobile approaches to service delivery.
Are advances in the cloud and mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, driving more government organizations to roll out remote / mobile working policies or do they still need convincing?
Many government agencies now have some official usage of mobile devices. At the moment use is limited to a small number of applications such as document management and email services. However, the policy environment is still in early stages of development. This includes mobile device management systems’ formal mobile usage policies. Where policies do currently exist, they are often struggling to keep pace with client expectations.
A strong policy example is the US Digital Government Strategy in the US. Since last May, it has released a BYOD toolkit for agencies to adopt, indicating a major step forward in the federal government’s thinking around this topic. The state of Delaware has also officially embraced BYOD, and stands to potentially save $2.5mn by doing so.
As agencies further embrace the benefits that mobile can bring to their organizations, it will be increasingly important to take a strategic approach in order to deliver the greater benefits that can be realized. A flexible working program should not be solely about equipping the field services teams with mobile devices. It should be one strand of an efficiency programme that builds and feeds into sharing services with other departments and users, as well as moving services online, which can then dramatically overhaul the efficiency of their operations.
The final instalment of Nishant Shah’s Q&A with Huddle will follow tomorrow, so watch this space…
Nishant Shah, government technology analyst at Ovum
Nishant Shah is an Ovum analyst focusing on smart cities, cloud computing, analytics, open data, gamification, and connection technologies.
Before joining Ovum, Nishant’s work included facilitating public-private partnerships for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s Global Business Coalition; providing management services to technology investees of Acumen Fund Pakistan; consulting for NYC government on solar; and piloting adult education/social services projects while on an international development fellowship in India. He has also served on the founding teams of two technology startups.
Nishant completed his graduate studies at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and received his BA from Boston University.
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