A New Year look into procurement decisions at the Federal and State level highlights a growing demand for cloud, digital, Internet of Things (IoT) and security solutions. These technologies-of-choice will drive governments’ agenda and open up wide-ranging industry opportunities.
Among the state-by-state trends tracked by the IDG Government editorial team, Canberra is reinforcing its support for a cloud-first strategy, data centre integration and broad-based digital services. This trend is highlighted by the Federal ICT Strategy with support reinforced by the communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
More broadly, the Federal government’s annual $6 billion ICT spending is shifting toward wide-spread cloud and digital access. Front-line agencies are also taking a closer look at IoT platforms to better integrate services.
For NSW, a cloud-first strategy remains integral to the annual $2 billion technology budget. The state’s finance minister Dominic Perrottet has weighed in behind digital leadership and laying the groundwork for cloud and data centre consolidation.
Details about NSW’s plans are highlighted under the comprehensive ICT Strategy.
With a change of government, Victoria’s ICT strategy and related developments earlier focused on digital and cloud access. The state’s digital plan also highlights broader engagement with the industry.
Examining trends for 2015
Among the trends, while governments are taking a consistent approach to ICT procurement, the broader question is whether a “one-size-fits-all” cloud model works across departments and agencies. As a result, public, private or hybrid models are under scrutiny, as are security concerns.
The broader agreement is that cost savings stem from managing peak or off-peak traffic, reducing maintenance overheads or dynamically allocating bandwidth and access as and where needed.
ICT planners are assessing the potential of platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, software-as-a-service or data-as-a-service.
Unified-communications-as-a-service comes into play, supporting multiple platforms, and integration between voice, video or data communications.
The goal is to move from Capex that depreciates over time to Opex. An Opex model leverages cloud infrastructure while consumption is spread across lines of business. Beyond the broader debate, for federal, state and local government, cloud-first strategies will drive procurement this decade.
Digital by default
For front-line organisations, the goal is ensuring that services around health, education, transport or aged care are fully-integrated. Governments’ “digital by default” roadmap builds on modernised websites, call centre integration and downloads directly to smartphones or mobile devices.
Governments are honing their “digital-first” strategies. They are making these integral to service delivery programs. The demand for digital services is led by customers’ demand to interact efficiently and productively with agencies.
End users need to know which agencies offer the information or service they need, or how to navigate the information maze. Highly-interactive websites, social media or mobile apps streamline communication between governments, citizens or industry partners.
Governments’ digital reforms resonate with being able to meet expectations, deliver equitable services, increase transparency and engagement, and lay the foundations for innovation. But the broader question is: which digital channels are working and why? Which technology tools open up communication and keep customers fully engaged?
Front-line organisations are assessing the success rate for channels like the Internet, mobile apps or social networks. The goal is to master and lay the foundations for digital engagement using online, mobile and social media.
Open government resonates with being able to manage social relationships or build enterprise-class social media programs. These include the supervision of multi-sites, tailored “listening” or analysing customer sentiments in real-time.
ICT investments focus on fully-integrated digital channels. These move past one-off projects using a single media outlet to a more integrated communications platform. This incorporates a centralised management of multiple media sites, one-to-one engagement, a rationalised social media feed, or in-depth analysis of social data to improve decision-making.
The broader government focus at Federal and state levels is to ramp up the migration of HR, ERP or financial systems’ storage to the cloud. The demand for off-premise storage capacity continues to grow.
Internet of Things
For government, the Internet of Things (IoT) – or networked connections between people, processes, data, and things – offers massive potential. Among the benefits, IoT enables agencies to develop services that leverage big data or crowd-sourcing. Machine-to-machine communication is being explored to deliver services, including transport, social care or education.
The benefits stem from using near-real-time data to track and analyse behaviour. This data can track a location, the movement of goods, consumer habits or future plans. When applied to different demographics, big data or analytics streamline predictive modelling, for example, to improve public infrastructure. Emerging trends, changing demand, or the allocation of services can be tracked more readily.
The potential of IoT in government explores ways to streamline transport, build smart roads, deliver healthcare, or open up education. The underlying challenge is to get data, securely, to the right place, at the right time, and in the right format.
Among the touch-points, the focus is to manage the complexities of connecting to endless devices, or transforming the deluge of information into an actionable resource.
Agencies are exploring new uses for existing devices, or tracking new devices that flood the market at break-neck speed. The aim is ensuring that all devices work together, are fully integrated, and communicate or interact seamlessly with connected systems and infrastructures.
Protecting information assets
However, issues around data sovereignty, cross-border transactions, security and privacy need to be tackled. These come into play where personal data spans healthcare, education or social services.
Governments are racing to streamline information and security management policies. Among the guidelines, risk management strategies, authentication and control, and protecting critical assets are under the spotlight.
The point of differentiation for service delivery providers is being able to manage and protect customer lists, financial data, personally identifiable information or other proprietary information.
The challenge is to protect information from external and internal attacks or misuse. Controls are needed as close to the information source as possible.
The broader investment in security tools is about protecting citizen data. The aim is to help managers gain better control over critical information assets. Based on warnings from ongoing ICT audits – at the federal and state levels – vulnerabilities have been exposed across networks and communications grids. Mobile technology opens up the potential of new security breaches, or unauthorised access to data.
The conundrum for “open government” lies in clarifying which channels to open up and how to secure technology platforms and infrastructure. In a connected digital economy, security takes on a different meaning – with protections needed at all layers and communication channels. These encompass fixed, mobile and online security.
Follow Shahida Sweeney on Twitter: @ShahidaSweeney