The Blog

Technology in Government in 2011 and Beyond

So here we are, another year finished, for that matter the first decade of this century is behind us.  What is ahead in 2011 as we start another decade? What is in store for those of us who guide the direction of Information and Technology in Government?

I have been thinking for some time about what happens next, always better to anticipate and lead than to wake up one day and the world around you has changed and then you scramble to figure out what happened, and what to do about it.

  What is ahead for us in 2011?

Social Media in Government

 2010 was a year of growth and big news for Social Media, many more people jumping in the game, using twitter, foursquare and facebook.  2010 was a huge growth year for Edmonton’s own www.empireavenue.com .  Empire Ave ( or #Eav as a twitter hashtag) introduced gamification to many in business, a step up from Farmville on facebook.  With all this growth, interest and mainstream media coverage what is ahead in 2011.

I believe 2011 will be the year when many in government start to integrate the use of social media into their business processes, seeing it as a meaningful way to interact with the public it serves.  Traditional “in person” and telephone as well as web based transactions will continue, Social Media will be added to the tool kit of interaction options.  This will be true for politicians as it is for administration.   Social Media is becoming a safer place for those that have not already taken the leap, and soon just like “Dancing Guy” people will not want to be seen as sitting on the Social Media Sidelines.

Social Media in Government will become a mainstream movement in 2011, as an IT Leader or CIO in government what have you done to prepare yourself and your team to be part of the solution?

Open Gov / Open Data

For many in Government 2010 was the year that Open Government and Open Data became a movement.  With buzz words like #Gov20, #opendata, transparency and accountability flying around how could you miss a shift in thinking, practice and leadership.  There are many reasons for this shift, from my perspective it all began long before, as @Richard_Florida calls it “The Great Reset” of October 2008.  Prior to the great reset individuals, organizations and ecosystems around the world were looking for the ability to engage, to more actively participate, to be part of the solution and not just complaining about a problem. 

 A number of savvy leaders in countries like New Zealand, Australia, The United Kingdom and The United States saw this need for more engagement and the emergence of enabling technologies.  Leveraging this convergence Open Gov emerged.  I maintain that many city, States, Provinces and Countries have been open for hundreds of years, founded on principles of democracy and engagement, but this #opengov is new, it is fresh and it is not going away. 

I believe in 2011 many more countries and cities will join the movement, publicly stating that they have developed Open Government or Open Data plans and strategies.  Organizations such as the World E-Government Organization ( WEGO ) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Oragization ( UNESCO ) will have important roles to play in supporting the movement, encouraging sharing of best practice, sponsoring projects among developed and developing nations ensuring that there is equity in the development of the movement.  Open Government in an organization has the ability to be a game changer for the administration and the citizens it serves.

Consumerization & the Enterprise

I first heard the term “Consumerization” in April of 2010 at the Microsoft Executive Briefing Centre in Redmond, Washington.  Simply defined by WikiPedia, “it is a stable neologism “newly defined word” that describes the trend for new information technology to emerge first in the consumer market and then spread into business organizations, resulting in the convergence of the IT and consumer electronics industries”.    

So why does this matter ?  Consumerization is a hugely important issue for anyone leading IT, any level, in any organization.  You see the IT “users” as we call them have access to the most up to date technology from their local retail store.  They have access to all types of devices, and hundreds of thousands of apps.  Easy access to technology, and its ongoing use is continuing to create extremely smart “users”.  Users who already know what they want before they call their IT department within their organization.  So how will that impact our enterprises, our organizations, the systems, the information and the architecture?

 It is time to introduce a radical shift in thinking.  For years IT leaders have been architecting massive systems, major storehouses of information within complex databases accessed by large enterprise systems.  Is that type of system needed for all business processes within an organization?  Have we made the development of systems much more complicated than they need to be? 

Is it time to consider a model where the enterprise system is no longer required, the information is stored in an open format and “Apps” are used by smart users within an organization to access the information they need, correlate, analyze and make business decisions in a much more flexible fluid way.  As the consumerization of technology continues, what pressures will be put on IT to move away from large multi-million dollar Enterprise Systems implementations to a model of “Data & Apps”.  Could 2011 be the year we see this emerge in government? Is it part of an Open Ecosystem?

Apps in the Cloud

If there was ever an easy “prediction” to make for 2011, it would be that government agencies will join the cloud for Apps ( Email, Calendar, Word Processing, Spreadsheet, Presentations, Database) in a significant way in 2011.  I think there are just a few things stopping this from turning into a significant transition.  When I speak to leaders in government the questions they have for me are around security and privacy.  From my perspective information, properly classified (that is a whole other blog post) and stored is actually more secure in the cloud.  For one you know where it is, it is not stored on some ones laptop, or USB storage device.  In the cloud you have user names and passwords, and information is parsed and stored in multiple locations, making it difficult to piece together.

Of course for the Cloud App providers that are located in The United States, your Patriot Act creates a hurdle for some organizations.  It is not a barrier simply a hurdle! 

2011 will be the year when the true leaders in government emerge, moving their Apps to the cloud in a significant way, proving to other agencies that it is possible, and starting the Tsunami of change.  One question, what will we do with all that storage space in our corporate data centers?

Beyond 2011

 What about beyond 2011, what does Information Technology in Government have in store beyond 2011.  Will the concept of “Data & Apps” emerge as a mainstream, has it already, what are the large Enterprise Systems and Database manufactures considering, what are they concerned about.

Will 3D Immersive Technologies and Gamification emerge as systems in our enterprises, will Kinect for XBOX become the standard interface for technology beyond the home?  Will more organizations consider the power of 3D Immersive in advancing education, collaboration, simulation and experimentation?

With all of that what will the future of IT be within government organizations, and for that matter, what role will the Chief Information Officer play, or will there be a need for such a role in the next 5 years?

The next decade will be one of the most challenging and rewarding for Information and Technology in Government.

Are You Ready?