Gov CIOs struggling with digital disruption

A significant number of government Chief Information Officers (CIOs) say they are struggling to manage digital disruption, stressing further that they lack the funds to effectively lead the transition, according to a recent global survey of public sector CIOs.
 

Government IT leaders also reported greater levels of organisational disruption and funding shortfalls than their private sector counterparts, the Gartner survey revealed.

Fifty-eight per cent of surveyed CIOs said they had experienced organisational disruption over the past four years, with a little over half (52 per cent) saying they had also faced a funding shortfall over this timeframe that could soften the blow of disruption – a higher rating than any other sector.

Curiously, last year’s survey participants from state and provincial governments anticipated an average increase of 1.5 per cent to IT budgets, while local governments expected a 3.2 per cent boost to meet digitisation priorities.

While government CIOs were rated ahead of other industries in developing “citizen-centric” digital services, they nevertheless appear to lag the private sector in all other measures of IT function and process, according to the survey, challenged by inflexible funding models and unpredicable government machinery changes faced by public sector staff.

“Governments are struggling in many areas, following disruptions including changes in leadership, reorganisations and funding shortfalls,” said Alia Mendonsa, a senior research director at Gartner.

“For many government CIOs, disruption will affect their IT budget growth, and the funding and launch of new business initiatives will suffer. Inflexible funding models exacerbate this issue, due to budgetary processes and cycles within government.”

Perhaps most disconcerting, more than half (52 per cent) of all survey participants believed their organisation lacks a clear and consistent overall business strategy.

In lieu of an overall business strategy, Mendonsa said government CIOs must step up to incorporate strategic business outcomes into their digital government strategy, with "business outcomes... [to be] validated by the business as part of the strategy approval process".

'Game changing' tech for gov's tech leaders

Data and analytics and cloud technologies, while well matured in the private sector, were rated as “game-changers” for government CIOs in 2020 (matching similar sentiment in last year’s survey), with artificial intelligence (AI) also rated as an important transformation technology.

Survey results showed that the majority of respondents had already deployed or are focused on deploying cybersecurity (84 per cent), AI (37 per cent), and robotic process automation (33 per cent) within the next 12 months.

“Government CIOs need to prioritise investment in emerging technologies according to potential value for their institution,” Mendonsa said.

“More mature technologies, such as cloud, and data and analytics, offer immediate benefits in terms of capability and scalability for delivering digital government services, and therefore may be prioritised. Experiments with AI and robotic process automation may start small initially, and once their value can be demonstrated, initiatives involving these emerging technologies may be scaled up over time.”

The 2020 Gartner CIO Survey was conducted online from June to August 2019 among Gartner Executive Programs members and other CIOs. A total of 130 government CIOs took part in the survey.