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A “Tomorrow Ready” Strategy for Government Technology

Future proof IT transformation can only come through open architecture hybrid cloud approaches

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There is no doubt that technology has incredible potential to transform the way governments serve citizens and accomplish critical missions. But while governments are some of the world’s largest organizations with diverse and complex technology needs, agencies often are hampered by legacy IT systems that are difficult and expensive to modernize. Add to that agency missions that are constantly evolving and the growing expectation that government technology, public facing and otherwise, be just as innovative and intuitive as consumer-facing apps, and the challenges for government IT leaders are immediately clear. 

The only way to meet those challenges is through investments today to transform government IT systems to be Tomorrow Ready – flexible to evolve as mission requirements grow and shift over the long-term, and open to the broadest possible range of innovations. No one vendor, platform, or cloud can do all that. 

To advance their missions with a recognition that no one can fully predict future requirements, the world’s largest commercial enterprises are embracing Tomorrow Ready technology strategies built on hybrid cloud architectures. By following that example and making hybrid approaches the rule versus the exception in public sector IT, leaders in government can realize a broad range of benefits that enhance citizen experiences and essential government operations, such as: 

  • Allowing citizens to use a common digital ID across multiple agencies to simplify processes such as student loan applications, filing taxes, applying for Medicare, or renewing a passport. 
  • Using that same common digital ID, coupled with predictive analytics, to proactively anticipate citizens’ needs. 
  • Boosting defense sector productivity, helping military ships navigate sea lanes more efficiently and safely by leveraging AI, which shows great promise for autonomous shipping. 
  • Enabling defense and homeland security agencies to use emerging technologies to derive greater insights from their supply chains and make critical decisions. 
One obstacle many governments agencies currently face is decades old infrastructure and applications, written in outdated programming languages and layered from years of adapting to policy changes. As the COVID-19 response has shown, citizens and government workers remain frustrated with systems that are out of synch with evolving technology use or less resilient due to years of deferred modernization. 

Amidst the COVID-19 response, government workers performing sensitive missions were suddenly working remotely. As governments responded to the crisis, IT systems were heavily stressed by increased workloads. While many agency IT leaders accelerated modernization, systems and networks were still pushed to their limits. This impacted mission-critical operations and diminished government’s ability to respond to the crisis. The ways that leaders have accelerated modernization during the COVID-19 response have shown that IT systems need to enable entirely new ways of operating. 

“Moments of crisis almost always carry lessons and if there is anything the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s the critical importance of technology solutions that enable speed, flexibility, insight, and innovation.” – IBM CEO Arvind Krishna 

This is why, as governments plan their pandemic recovery, policymakers should reorient and accelerate modernization to transform government IT systems to become Tomorrow Ready. No one knows what the next emergency will be or how specific agency missions will evolve. But with the right foundation, they don’t need to. If that infrastructure is flexible and built to open architecture standards, it can adapt quickly to new demands. If it is open, and not locked into any one vendor environment, it can rapidly bring the best technology to bear as challenges arise. Tomorrow Ready puts the agency, not specific technologies or vendors, at the center of IT modernization. 

Learn more about how to approach advancing a Tomorrow Ready technology strategy at: https://www.ibm.com/blogs/policy/tomorrow-ready-government  or contact your IBM representative. 

For over 100 years, IBM has been helping government leaders achieve these goals through our unique ability to convene leaders, to collaborate across boundaries and to meet tomorrow's challenges through relentless innovation.