The four macro trends all government CIOs should prepare for

There are four macro trends government CIOs can not ignore, and need to prepare for, according to Gartner analyst Dean Lacheca.

These trends - social instability, perpetual austerity, sustainable systems and population aging - are impacting governments around the world, says Lacheca, Gartner research director, public sector and government.

Speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo at the Gold Coast, Lacheca says these four trends are “straining the public sector” and setting the business agenda for government leaders.

The latter, meanwhile, are looking at government ICT executives for solutions.

In this environment, “user-centricity, agility and sustainability are the ends, and technology is the means,” he explains.

Digital is putting pressure on governments to be more agile, he points out.

Government needs to be stable and reliable, however it needs to be more agile. The community around it is moving more quickly. "How can they deliver that agility in government and still have that reliability and stability but deliver in the way their customers expect?"

“The digital citizen expects services to be delivered in channels that make sense to them,” he says. “How do we align business service to be more aligned with citizen expectations and they can seamlessly shift channels without starting again?”

Perpetual austerity is a reality after a long era of economic downtown. Government expenditure is now looking at a different income base, he says. "How do we do more, with less?"

Analytics, meanwhile, can play a key role in sustainability.

Evidence based decisions and outcomes-based budgets depend on the quality of the data and analytics, he points out. The equitable distribution and utilisation of resources helps maintain stable environments and societies.

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Social instability, perpetual austerity, sustainable systems and population aging are impacting governments around the worldDean Lacheca, Gartner

He advises bridging information silos by pooling disparate and relevant data. “Create roadmaps for the use of advanced analytics learning in security {‘an ongoing challenge’) and other programme operations.”

Population aging, meanwhile, has “multiple tiered effects” to different parts of the world. “It is changing the workforce and changing the income base.”

He advises speeding up the pace in government with an ‘agile-first mindset’.

CIOs can help by bringing an entrepreneurial urgency to IT services, workforce development and technology innovation while meeting fiduciary responsibilities, he says.

“Create a culture of continuous innovation with processes that support decentralised collaboration and experimentation.”

He notes, however, the next generation of government staff will not expect a job for life.

"They are not looking to spend their entire careers there, they expect to move on," he says. "Government needs to understand the expectation of the workforce ahead."

Knowledge management is important. He asks, 'How do we ensure the knowledge will not walk away when they leave?'

Lacheca suggests steps CIOs can take in the year ahead.

The most immediate task is to evaluate how these four trends will impact the agency's mission and goals.

Over the next three months, he suggests determining if current policies and business plans adequately mitigate these trends.

He says Gartner's Hype Cycle for technology can be a guide to create the agency's IT investment portfolio.

Take the top down approach focus on where some of these technologies are going to play, he says. “Ask yourself, ‘is your IT strategy grounded in business outcomes?’”

"Revise your technology strategy, budget requests and roadmap, as needed."

In the next 12 months, he advises, “develop and implement a plan to transform the organisation structure, processes, roles and talent profiles to bimodally manage IT services.”

Government CIOs as change advocates

Digital government leaders, meanwhile, share their experiences in leading through rapid change, during a panel discussion at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

Digital government leaders panel: Charles McHardie, CTO, Department of Human Services; Matt O’Mara, CIO, New Plymouth District Council; Elise Olding, research director, Gartner (moderator); Peter Alexander, chief digital officer, Digital Transformation Agency; and Steve Mitchinson, general manager, driver and vehicle services, Department of Transport

Steve Mitchinson general manager, driver and vehicle services, Department of Transport, says the team makes sure they focus on things "that are causing the most grief to staff and customers".

In government, a lot of our process is designed around outdated regulations, not what the customer wants to achieve, he says.Thus, he says, the team is focusing on transactions that will make the most impact to customers.”

The customer, for instance, is not thinking about getting a driver’s license. The customer is getting mobility.

“It you think about it that way, you look at transactions in a different way,” says Mitchinson.

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Focus on things that are causing the most grief to staff and customers.Steve Mitchinson, Department of Transport

The government executives discuss ways they are encouraging diversity in their respective teams.

Mitchinson says the transport agency is one of the first agencies in Australia to work with the Autism Association. The latter teaches high school students who are in the autism spectrum skills such as coding.

He recently took one such student on cadetship and “had to jump hoops” to secure him a permanent job. When the student won an award, the boy's father was in tears, telling him, that the agency “not only gave him a job, we gave him a life and self-confidence.”

Mitchinson says he is taking on another young person with autism to join the team.

“The more diverse a workforce, the more rich it is,” he states.

Peter Alexander, chief digital officer, Digital Transformation Agency, says daily standup meetings are part of the team schedule. Every fortnight, those in charge of products talk about what they are doing, and what they have learned.

This, he says, is a good model of sharing experiences across digital and product teams.

Alexander says the discussions may be about particular technical solutions, but mostly the conversations are about solving user problems.

This is the kind of conversation that you can have with a CEO or minister, he states.

This elevates the discussion beyond technology solutions. “When you are talking about a user problem, everyone is interested."

Mitchinson, on the other hand, says he would like people to celebrate successful project implementations.

“You can't get your project sign-off," he says, until there is a write-up promoting the project.

“The best thing you can do is give them recognition.”

“It is about getting people excited on the current work they are doing,” says Matt O’Mara, CIO of the New Plymouth District Council.

Matt O'Mara

If the team has helped solved a problem, it creates an opportunity for them to “blow their own trumpet”.

But they do not do this themselves, says O’Mara, they ask a stakeholder to make a comment about the programme.

Elise Olding, research director at Gartner and who moderated the forum, agrees.

“Recognitions are free,” says Olding, as she cites a study showing 33 per cent of employees leave because “they are not recognised for the work they do in the organisation.”

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