Across the globe, many CIOs are embracing rapid change. Digital transformation is having a disruptive impact on organizations, but it's often still at the early stages of market development within government agencies worldwide, according to the latest market study by Gartner.
Big data analytics, IT infrastructure refresh and cloud computing continue to be the top three business technology priorities for government CIOs, but shortages of skilled technical staff and rigid organizational cultures are among the major barriers to implementing digital business agendas.
The government IT survey data indicated that leveraging digital technologies to transform traditional operational and service models has risen to the top of the business agenda for many elected leaders and appointed senior public officials.
"Government organizations require the sustained focus and commitment of successive administrations to realize the cumulative, step change benefits of moving from system or process-driven business models to operating as a platform within a digital ecosystem," said Rick Howard, research vice president at Gartner.
Digital Transformation Leadership Challenges
Gartner analysts believe succession management practices in government are important. Progress toward higher levels of digital capability can't be slowed or derailed by changes in executive leadership. Continuity of the IT vision is a key to building on technology investments made by prior administrations.
Government CIOs estimate that 44 percent of business processes are now undergoing digital change, with 62 percent to be impacted within two years and 80 percent within five years. Whether the focus is pursuing quick, tactical wins or a long-term strategy, the survey revealed a unanimous agreement that significant digital disruptions to existing and future business processes are inevitable.
"With this much anticipated business process impact on the horizon, there is a high risk to CIOs of not being able to keep up with IT innovations," said Mr. Howard. "This risk will compound over the next five years if IT budget pressures increase and the spread of business unit level IT, or shadow IT, is not strategically coordinated and managed."
Government IT Budgets Shift to Cloud Services
The survey indicated that almost 40 percent of government CIOs believe their IT program budgets are growing in 2016; about 44 percent will remain unchanged; and only 17 percent report decreasing budgets, mainly in federal and defense agencies.
Budgetary constraints appear to be a contributing factor for the slow move to digital business adoption in government. Economic uncertainty is on the rise, and it is unlikely overall government IT budget stability or growth will continue in 2016 at the levels reported during the past three years.
According to the Gartner assessment, government CIOs are making the shift from traditional owner-operator environments to public cloud services, which is becoming more dramatic as agencies move beyond the routine workloads of online service data, to the more highly regulated applications with very sensitive data.
The Gartner survey data showed CIOs in Asia-Pacific and EMEA place digitalization as a much higher priority than in North America. This reflects the maturing investments of sustained national e-government and digital government initiatives that have been underway for many years, specifically in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.