Public sector CIOs eye cloud, cybersecurity, analytics in 2018

Public sector CIOs eye cloud, cybersecurity, analytics in 2018

Digital transformation is the top-ranked business priority among government tech chiefs, says Gartner

Digital transformation is the top-ranked business priority among government CIOs overall, followed by security and governance, according to a new Gartner survey.

Gartner's 2018 CIO Agenda Survey gathered data from 3,160 CIO respondents in 98 countries and across major industries, including 461 government CIOs. Government respondents were segmented into national or federal; state or province (regional); local; and defence and intelligence, to identify trends specific to each tier.

According to the report, public sector CIOs are planning to invest more in cloud, security and analytics in 2018.

Cloud services/solutions and infrastructure/data centre combined was ranked in the top 10 by 30 per cent of government CIOs, compared with only 12 per cent in all other industries. In contrast, digitalisation/digital marketing in the private sector sits at 16 per cent, more than twice the rate in government (6 per cent).

“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," according to report author and Gatner's research VP, Rick Howard.

"Building out data analytics infrastructure is fundamental to improving government program outcomes and services to citizens."

But, at the same time, the report also revealed data centre infrastructure is most likely to be targeted for spending cuts, despite being considered “crucial to the organisation’s mission” by the CIOs surveyed.

Results show 16 per cent of government CIOs said they plan to increase spending on business intelligence (BI) and analytics (16 per cent) and data management (6 per cent) in 2018.

The report also finds that technologies like AI and the internet-of-things (IoT) didn’t make the list of top 10 technologies to achieve the organisation’s mission for public sector CIOs, while they did for CIOs overall across all sectors.

Gartner found 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.

Specifically, 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 per cent) over CIOs in other industries (6 per cent).

Additionally, the survey found digital business/digital transformation is more important for government (first priority for 18 per cent of respondents) than for all industries (17 per cent), with the exception of defence and intelligence agencies (six per cent).

Private sector companies ranked it second, after growth/market share. The next three business priorities for government are security, safety and risk (13 per cent); governance, compliance and regulations (12 per cent); and technology initiatives/improvements (11 per cent).

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

Howard said 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.

"They should consider cloud as the means to accelerate the digitalisation of their organisations and enable the business optimisation that results."

While only five per cent of government CIOs considered security and risk as crucial to achieving the organisation's mission, 17 per cent 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, Gartner found. 

"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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