Mobile, cloud, and analytics are hot issues for 2013 government IT in Australia

OVUM VIEW

Summary

Ovum recently completed its latest series of government executive breakfast briefings covering the major cities across Australia and New Zealand. The briefings were an excellent opportunity not only to share the latest Ovum research insights, but also to listen to feedback from diverse sources about emerging priorities in the government market. Feedback was obtained during more than 20 interviews with government CIOs and in workshops with more than 250 government CIOs, managers, and senior executives.

At each of the briefings, managers were asked to nominate key issues that they would like Ovum to address in the coming year. This feedback will be used to drive future government briefings in 2013. The top five issues, which won by a significant margin, were:

  • productivity and innovation
  • mobile technology
  • cloud services
  • analytics
  • security.

A year of big elections and big budget promises

An election year is typically a time of policy and program announcements as well as heightened political sensitivity. It is not a time for any mess-ups or big project delays. There is also the potential for change of government, which could open the door to more significant change.

In 2013, elections for the federal and Western Australia governments will take place. The latter now has a fixed four-year term, so its election will happen on March 9. In order to run full term, the federal government must call an election sometime between July 1 and November 30. While an election earlier in the year is possible, it would be problematic, given the government convention of synchronizing a half-Senate election with an election for the House of Representatives.

The federal government’s May budget will be much anticipated, given long-standing commitments to deliver the OECD’s first balanced budget since the global financial crisis. With still-soft world economic conditions, delivering a balanced budget will be an enormous challenge, with the potential for additional savings measures.

Productivity and innovation initiatives will gather pace

In a sense, productivity and innovation have always been on the task list for government senior executives. However, changes over the last twelve months – continuing budget cuts, plus the demands of incoming governments – have brought these issues into much sharper focus.

Productivity and innovation are no longer just issues for awards nights or once-a-year performance reviews, they are long-term survival mechanisms. Tight budgets are now just a fact of life. Productivity and innovation in the government sector are all about delivering services that the community now expects, within the limits of available funding. It is a big challenge.

Mobile will become a key enabler for productivity and innovation

Since the early releases of mobile devices, there has been an ongoing stream of device announcements. Devices have captured the imagination of managers across all parts of the enterprise. Not since the early days of the laptop or desktop PC has it been fashionable for managers to openly discuss the details of their favourite app or compare their use of personal technologies.

But it would be a mistake to believe that change begins and ends with the device. Device-focused change will inevitably morph into a new wave of broader, technology-enabled innovation. In earlier times, the desktop PC enabled the disappearance of typing pools and other restrictive work practices. It also enabled big changes in the community, such as personal email and electronic tax returns.

Mobile is no different, and it is unreasonable to expect that the latest generation of mobile technology will be any less disruptive. Indeed, 2013 will see the beginning of a shift away from a simple device focus, toward bigger change agendas aimed at service-delivery and workplace reform.

Cloud skeptics will lose relevance as cloud becomes mainstream

So far, cloud services have been an easy target for the cloud skeptics. Security, privacy, reliability, and contract management have each been raised as concerns by skeptical managers. However, throughout 2012 there has been a growing weight of evidence showing that solid outcomes can be achieved through the judicious application of normal risk management. Industry is continuing to invest in onshore cloud services. Governments are beginning to see the economic benefits of encouraging a competitive cloud marketplace and the potential efficiencies for government resulting from embracing the cloud.

In 2012 New Zealand announced it would be pursuing a “Cloud First” strategy. Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Communications Minister, Steven Conroy, have also encouraged the development of a viable cloud industry. In 2013 cloud will move from the fringes to become a key consideration in mainstream IT.

Analytics will have increased importance for government service delivery

2013 is likely to see analytics move from being a specialist tool to something more at the heart of policy reform and service delivery.

Contemporary government policy and services are undergoing subtle but important changes, and new approaches are required to the way we think about analytics. Governments are looking for new approaches to information management that are less about enforcement of legislation and more about shaping behaviour and meeting underlying needs. For example, it is far better to have someone choose to obey the law than to prosecute them for breaking it; it is far better to have someone not need to enter the welfare system and to provide them with options than to simply enforce entitlements. Government service delivery is also undergoing subtle but significant change. But such change is impossible without a deep understanding of client needs and aspirations.

To service clients more effectively, new models and capabilities need to be developed, such as self-service, straight-through processing, management by exception, and improved risk assessment and management. However, this sort of change is quite impossible without more sophisticated and more operational analytics. It is about more than just Big Data, Fast Data or analysis techniques. Information underpins all of these changes, and is now seen as the new oil of the digital world. It is also about applying the right technology from a growing variety of alternatives.

Delivering secure government services in an increasingly complex world

The days of managing security perimeters have long gone. Cloud and mobile are extending the reach of the enterprise well beyond corporate firewalls. Advanced analytics adds an additional layer of complexity as the core role of corporate information grows far beyond traditional transaction processing. It is simply not possible to hold back these fundamental tectonic shifts in government IT. Security solutions must become even more risk and scenario-based.

APPENDIX

Author

Kevin Noonan, Research Director, Public Sector

kevin.noonan@ovum.com

Further reading

“Mobile service innovation is vital to tomorrow’s public sector” EI007-000002 (September 2012)

“Technology is changing faster than the methods of procuring it” EI007-000001 (September 2012)

“CIO, tear down this wall!” IT007-000592 (March 2012)

“IT really does matter” IT007-000591 (March 2012)

“Delivering big IT projects: inspiration or perspiration?” IT007-000478 (January 2012)

Bridging the Gap Between IT Cost-Cutting and Agency Productivity, IT007-000599 (March 2012)

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