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Not All Vendors Understand the Tidal Shift in Government IT Behaviors

by Andrea Di Maio  |  June 20, 2012  |  3 Comments

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.

Category: cloud  e-government  europe-and-it  smart-government  

Andrea Di Maio
Managing VP
15 years at Gartner
28 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 strategies, Web 2.0, open government, cloud computing, the business value of IT, smart cities, and the impact of technology on the future of government Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Not All Vendors Understand the Tidal Shift in Government IT Behaviors

  1. Mills Davis says:


    Your ICT source is hunkering down for a war of attrition. Governments and commercial enterprises will face budget constraints over the next 3-5 years. Pressure both to contain costs and to innovate will increase. For example, if you are a system integrator serving government clients in an era of declining budgets, will it be sufficient just to reduce body counts? Or will we see platform, service, and solution innovations that push provider business models away from labor hours towards fee for result? For example, the technology shift towards semantic and model-driven solutions favors gains in service levels (user experience) as well as internal productivity (both development, operations, and ongoing evolution).

  2. Gordon McKenzie says:

    Interesting reflection to see how cloud, mobile and consumerisatoin trends are affecting service delivery. I say that adding greater connectivity, bandwidth and devices to the periphery of government applications is not really addressing the core of the problem. Despite the money washed into technology modernisation initiatives in the past 5 years, none has really addressed the heart of the issue. Applications that are knowledge aware, that can handle 95% of requests completely automatically, that can be changed in days not months. These are the benefits of the Semantic Tools that are seeping from Web 3.0 technologies into model based applications, that will drive a real transformation in cost models and service levels. Let the next battle commence!

  3. Ravindra Datar says:

    Increasingly decision making in government IT buying is shifting from “take what we are offering” attitude towards citizens to aligning government processes to changing expectations of citizens, in terms of speed of response, transparency in the process and ease of accessibility.

    Though scalability and security remain at high priority, availability of new mechanisms/channels like the Cloud is also bringing in the element of cost variablization into provider evaluations.

    Politicians do their own things on the politics side but focus on leveraging technology for better citizen service, improving transparency and accountability in the operations run by the bureaucrats and also on cost effectiveness in a troubled economy. Speed of implementation is another important factor being considered.

    Am also observing rising interest in leveraging social media monitoring to gauge voter / citizen opinions and also for national security measures. There have been cases of people being questioned by national security agencies based on social media conversations. Governments tread a thin line there between national security and citizen privacy.

    Vendors are indeed facing interesting times in dealing with governments, nonetheless, with HUGE business opportunities to tap.

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