Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a major ICT vendor that is developing its three to five year strategy for a number of industries. The purpose of the conversation was to share some of the main trends that we see in the government market in order to either validate or complement their own findings.
We spoke about a number of issues: the financial sustainability challenges that many organizations in all tiers of government have to deal with; the nexus of mobile, cloud, social and the strategic use of information that is pushing enterprises in all industries to re-imagine the role of IT; the blurring between professional and personal when it comes to devices, data, applications and connections; the consumerization and commoditization of IT; the need to be more focused on employee productivity than on citizen satisfaction.
After a while I could sense that they were surprised and started asking questions about who was doing well worldwide on online citizen service delivery and who was getting demonstrable increases in citizen satisfaction with e-government. I have to admit, I was in shock. This sounded like rolling the clock back a few years, certainly pre-2008, during those good times when IT departments were awash with money to spend in technology and all that mattered was how well one would rank according to some weird (and often hardly relevant) e-government ranking.
I thought that after several years of global financial crisis, one or two recessions, abysmal recovery and lack of growth, entire countries and not just financial institutions risking financial meltdown, vendors would understand that there is a change of pace and priorities going on .
The value added by technology and technology providers will be measured in terms of how much they help governments stay in business rather than creating yet another shining portal or enterprise collaboration platform.
The blend between commercial, consumer and open source technologies won’t be dictated by political aspirations but by sheer necessity.
The journey to the cloud won’t be an orderly evolution of old sharing and consolidation initiatives, but a confused rush where individual agencies – and often the business and not IT in those agencies – will decide to go for business process as a service or software as a service as a way to keep the lights on or respond to requirements that cannot be met – because of time and resource constraints – using traditional sourcing options.
In my conversations with government clients, I can see that they are no longer in denial about these changes. I can just wish all vendors who still are to take a close look at what is happening to their clients and reroute their valuable IP and skills to help them weather the storm to come.