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Although commercial organizations remain on the cutting edge of tech trends, federal agencies have lagged behind their private sector counterparts when adopting innovative IT systems. That is, until now.

For years, modern technology, ranging from cloud platforms to artificial intelligence (AI), have been embraced and successfully integrated by industry giants. Unlike their private sector counterparts, many federal agencies are only now beginning to migrate their critical intelligence from local data centers to cloud platforms. It is a critical moment for agencies, as many continue to operate outdated hardware and critical infrastructure. These systems are have typically been in use for decades — sometimes over 20, 30 or 50 years.

To put this in context, that means the federal government still uses legacy systems that predate The Beatles’ American debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964.

According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, more than 75 percent of federal IT budgets are being used to fund operation and maintenance (O&M) costs. However, federal agencies are coming to the realization that continually pouring their hefty budgets into legacy technology is not only a poor use of funding, but also results in greater workflow inefficiencies and cyber vulnerabilities. Recognizing the apparent oversights caused by legacy technology, the federal government is hard-pressed to make necessary digital upgrades with an urgency that has not been seen before.

With new policies funneling through the congressional pipeline and increased funding for digital transformation projects, agencies are beginning to accelerate their modernization efforts. Putting new meaning to The Beatles song, “Help!,” Gartner analysts say the following three trends can assist in guiding the federal government’s digital transformation for years to come:

Deliver IT Messages Beyond Traditional Federal Influencers
Vendors have historically taken a policy-driven approach to IT modernization by delivering their message to staffers on Capitol Hill. While this has established a sound and accepting culture of digital innovation, to enact real change across the federal IT landscape, vendors will need to broaden their scope of influencers beyond the usual political appointees and policymakers.

Traditional IT influencers have come to recognize the importance of the government’s digital transformation. However, analysts say that vendors can help empower the federal government to further its digital transformation efforts by targeting three groups of federal IT professionals: end users at the enterprise level, more commonly known as the agency CIOs and CISOs; program directors; and procurement decision-makers.

Prioritize Values and Outcomes
Whether it’s the Trump administration’s cyber executive order or the Federal Information Technology and Reform Act, several key IT policies are hyper-focused on holding federal leaders more accountable for their agency’s digital transformation objectives and progress. In the same breadth, analysts predict that the federal government will collectively place a greater emphasis on mission-based outcomes to ensure IT decisions generate a greater return on investment and meet the IT objectives of each federal agency.

Navigating the World of Digital Platforms
With the emergence of innovative technology across the federal landscape, analysts say that the public sector will increase its reliance upon digital platforms for a myriad of stakeholders, spanning from employees to citizens.

In the past few months, the federal government has had a heightened focus on enhancing productivity. With the integration of more employee-centric digital platforms, agencies will be able to enhance efficiencies while also mitigating oversights and cyber threats. On the other hand, analysts predict that federal agencies will be able to leverage digital platforms for citizens through the creation of more self-service programs. By eliminating manual processes, the federal government can ensure greater outcomes for citizens, while also delivering higher levels of customer service and overall experience.

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