COMMENTARY

4 tech trends driving 2017 opportunities

As we begin a new calendar year and embark under a new administration, we will see many of the IT trends of the past year continue to progress. The same technology drivers, such as the need to improve the security of digital assets and the efforts to enhance digital platforms for engaging citizens, will remain at the top of agency agendas. With the need to constantly improve how government meets the needs of citizens coupled with the policies of a new administration, we expect to see these trends take shape in some new (and improved) ways in 2017.

IT modernization

Modernization was a huge topic in 2016, as Congress considered multiple bills to authorize funds for retiring and replacing legacy systems. The issue remains important as agencies discover vulnerabilities with legacy technology systems, such as those exploited in the Office of Personnel Management breach.

We expect IT modernization to continue as a top priority for 2017, with agencies not only looking to address critical system and security shortcomings, but also to align to current consumer demands and apply a consumer-centric approach to meeting citizen needs.

Implementing large-scale modernization efforts require stakeholder coordination across the enterprise, including the business, Information Technology Office and procurement officials. Although it is an enormous undertaking, we’ve already seen some of this process at work in the adoption of IT modernization efforts, such as cloud computing.

In order to ensure successful implementations of modernization IT initiatives, we will see a more dedicated and involved project management office that includes agency management personnel. To help achieve this, many large enterprise modernization initiatives will be divided into manageable segments and implemented based on a prioritized roadmap.

Additionally, IT modernization initiatives will provide the federal agencies the opportunity to enable a DevOps environment, resulting in continuous integration of software and technology changes seamlessly to an operational environment.

Digital connect

Nearly everything in our world is connected digitally and most of our communication happens in a digital format. In 2016, due in large part to the Obama administration’s focus on improving citizen service, we saw huge progress in integrating digital technologies and services to improve the citizen experience.

Agencies are now prioritizing their digital service delivery platform and we expect to see this commitment to improve citizen service continue, as the effort has had bipartisan support and strong momentum across agencies including Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration and IRS.

We also see continued adoption of Agile methodology across government agencies to facilitate an all-inclusive citizen engagement digital front. And, because the digital delivery platform facilitates effective front-end communication with citizens, the leveraging of analytical tools will help agencies shape their digital service platforms to support a proactive, citizen-centric and personalized service delivery.

In addition to seeing continual technology improvement and more support for cost-efficient, multi-channel services, we predict that streamlining the processes associated with the citizen experience will continue to be a top priority for agencies, with an emphasis on delivering quantifiable outcomes.

Intelligence-driven enterprise

Government has embraced the need for data mining and analytics to derive intelligence from heaps of enterprise data. While still working through the process to optimally leverage this intelligence, in 2017, we expect that many agencies are poised to take the next step toward an intelligence-driven enterprise.

Armed with increased access to data-driven insights, the next wave will be focused on applying these intelligent insights in a proactive manner. These insights can also be used with the application of algorithms and artificial intelligence -trained systems to provide predictive analytics.

Agencies that deliver benefits to citizens, such as CMS, NIH, CDC, IRS and the Social Security Administration, are particularly prime for this revolution, as these insights can help predict patterns in benefits and services and better prepare agencies to meet citizen needs. With these algorithms, government could eventually predict and adjust services automatically for optimal efficiency and results.

Digital security

According to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, government faces the potential for more security incidents and data breaches than any other sector. Securing government information has never been more critical, and major breaches in the past few years have been devastating to agencies and citizens.

As government grapples with the new cyber frontier, most agencies have understandably been operating in a reactive mode that prioritizes cyber defense. But digital security is about more than information security alone—it’s about securing every piece of digital content with a holistic approach that includes both digitally-born and digitally–converted information.

It also needs to expand beyond protecting against targeted intrusions like the OPM breach and consider the impact of “hacktivist” attacks that disrupt critical infrastructure (physical and digital) and other government operations or organized crime groups that steal and sell personal information.

Prevention, while critical, needs to happen in parallel with education, detection, recovery and rebuilding. As the digital enterprise continues to encompass more of our world, this will be a continued focus not just in 2017, but also in the decades ahead.

Heading deeper into 2017, it’s important to remember that although agencies are in transition, the government’s core missions remain essential. The consistent message we hear from the new administration is one of accountability, efficiency and outcomes.

Agencies will be under a microscope to deliver outcomes, and the tools and processes that help them do that—like data analytics—will be prioritized.

We also expect to see increased demand for quality oversight, independent review, and rigorous checks and balances – and, of course, a focus on cost reduction.

In addition, many of the new administration’s stated priorities, including better services for veterans, a revised strategy for health care insurance, and immigration reform, have primary or underlying technology components that will be mandatory for success.

We expect to see these priorities significantly shape the government technology landscape, and how the public and private sectors can work together in support of continued improvement of citizen service delivery in 2017.

About the Author

Raj Parameswaran is senior vice president of technology strategy and solutions at Maximus Federal.

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