Effective IT service management, IO needed for government IT progress

Arguably no single concept is more universal within the realm of IT than the mandate to do more with less. Organization leaders are typically reluctant to increase IT funding, even as they ask their IT departments to deliver greater results and tackle harder challenges. 

Government agencies are no exception to this trend. If anything, public sector leaders may be even more inclined to adopt policies that force IT professionals to do more with less.

That being the case, it is imperative for government agencies to make IT service management and infrastructure optimization priorities. With a dual focus on these key areas, agencies can achieve significant IT progress without overrunning their budgets. 

CIO priorities and the need for IT progress
The importance of this focus on IO and ITSM can be seen in Gartner's 2015 CIO Agenda report. This study surveyed nearly 3,000 CIOs from around the world, including 343 government-based CIOs. Among those CIOs working for federal agencies, around 30 percent indicated their IT budgets recently decreased, further reinforcing the mandate emphasized above.

"Government agencies must embrace more sophisticated, advanced IT services."

Going further, the Gartner study emphasized the need for government CIOs to push their agencies to embrace more sophisticated, advanced IT services. An over-reliance on existing solutions is proving to be an obstacle for government-wide improvements, as Rick Howard, research director at Gartner, explained.

"The burden of legacy technologies in government puts innovation on a path of incremental improvement when agility and quick solution delivery is expected," said Howard. "It's all about starting with the digital world and what is possible – thinking cloud, mobile and situational context first – and then considering, 'How do we get there from here?' using information and technology."

Howard went on to emphasize the importance of turning to the public cloud first for the majority of government IT initiatives. The public cloud will usually be the most cost-effective option for any given IT need. If security or compliance issues eliminate this option, then government CIOs should look at the private cloud or on-premise alternatives.

The report also noted the importance of business intelligence and analytics tools. According to Gartner, the move toward advanced IT services will inevitably produce a tremendous amount of unstructured and difficult-to-process data. CIOs are therefore eager to embrace BI and analytics solutions that can transform these resources into valuable insight.

"Government agencies are poised for major transformations."

Advancing IT the right way
With all this in mind, it's clear that government agencies are poised for major transformations in the near future. To do more with less, CIOs and other decision-makers will have no choice but to look for solutions that can maximize efficiency and performance while driving down costs. 

Yet embracing new solutions alone is not enough. To ensure that this IT progress actually delivers all of the sought-after benefits, agencies need high-quality ITSM solutions. Such resources will deliver tracking, reporting and measurement of IT operational performance. Lacking this insight, there will be no way for agency CIOs to truly confirm their IT investments are actually helping to achieve the goal of doing more with less. 

IO takes this concept even further. Government agencies can utilize IO to ensure new IT services align properly with daily and long-term goals and standards. Without this concentrated focus, there's a high chance that CIOs will embrace suboptimal IT services or deploy them in a less than ideal fashion. The adoption of cloud computing, mobile solutions and more offerings presents a new frontier for most government agencies, complete with significant risk and unavoidable uncertainty. A well-considered approach to IO can help to minimize the risk in this area.

However, it is important to note that both ITSM and IO services are not guaranteed to deliver results in and of themselves. Each of these areas is exceedingly dependent on the organization providing the service. For government agencies eager to do more with less in the realm of IT, then, the key is not simply to embrace ITSM and IO, but also to choose the right ITSM and IO service providers. Decision-makers must look for third-party vendors with robust experience in the public sector that have demonstrated an understanding of the IT landscape. By partnering with such a service provider, government agencies will be well positioned to take advantage of new IT solutions, and to improve their performance across the board as a result.