Gartner Blog Network

A Future-Proof Government IT Strategy Must Challenge the Common Wisdom

by Andrea Di Maio  |  December 2, 2009  |  2 Comments

This morning I had a conversation with a client from a provincial government who is dealing with a quite complex but interesting planning challenge. He is supposed to develop an IT strategy that meets the requirements of the current national e-government plan, while taking into account a longer term view, stretching as far as year 2020.

In other terms, this client needs to develop both a long-term vision for the role of IT to support how government will look like in year 2020, and a regular two to three year IT strategy, which is constrained by existing objectives, plans, budgetary commitments and capabilities.

Whereas this may be an extreme case, I expect quite a few government CIOs and IT strategic planners to be dealing with both a longer term strategy – most likely spanning as far as 2015 – and the usual two to three year planning horizon.

I would argue that, given the level of uncertainty associated with economic conditions and political priorities, and the accelerating pace of trends like socialization and commoditization, even the 2015 planning horizon will require the use of scenario planning techniques. These techniques support the development of alternative future scenarios, that depend on how forcers and drivers that cannot be predicted will play out.

A few years ago, a group of Gartner analysts developed a series of notes looking at the impact of technology on government. The main use of those scenarios was to identify families of technologies that would be relevant in each and every scenario (or al least in the majority of scenarios), as an indication that those technologies are likely to be the most future-proof.

Although this looks like a sensible approach, it is very possible that people will adopt a more prescriptive approach, based on one particular view of the future.

After all, isn’t this what we have seen happening for e-government plans over the last several years? Visions of citizen-centric government where the end result was supposed to be a single portal to act as the only channel for electronic interaction with constituents; maturity models assuming that the evolution toward e-government effectiveness was linear and – most importantly – the same across different jurisdiction; and so forth.

Today we do see other rather dogmatic views emerging, such as “everything will run on a cloud” or “government will constantly increase the amount of raw data published online” or “government is a platform” and so forth. Neither of these statement can stand the proof of time, so I hope that those who are engaged in strategic planning will challenge them as part of their scenario building exercises.

Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: e-government  

Tags: government-20  scenario-planning  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

Andrea Di Maio is a managing vice president for public sector in Gartner Research, covering government and education. His personal research focus is on digital government strategies, open government, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on A Future-Proof Government IT Strategy Must Challenge the Common Wisdom

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by steve ressler and Andrea DiMaio, Per Olsson. Per Olsson said: Interesting post- RT A Future-Proof Government IT Strategy Must Challenge the Common Wisdom – #gov20(via @AndreaDiMaio) […]

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by AndreaDiMaio: A Future-Proof Government IT Strategy Must Challenge the Common Wisdom – #gov20…

Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.