Infrastructure optimization poised to become increasingly important for federal government

The growing importance of digital solutions throughout the federal government is one of the most significant IT stories occurring today. Already, federal agencies are well on their toward fully migrating to digital strategies, and this trend will only pick up steam as time goes on. 

Highlighting this development, a recent Gartner report identified the rise of the digital workplace as the leading government tech trend in 2015. For agencies to fully embrace and take advantage of this, they will need to shift their focus and ensure that both infrastructure optimization and data management are among their highest-level priorities.

"All employees will require significant experience and understanding of IT."

The rise of the digital workplace
The Gartner report forecast that in the future the typical government workforce will comprise entirely digitally literate employees. Everyone from executives to frontline personnel will require significant experience and understanding of IT in order to effectively perform their job responsibilities. 

Ultimately, this is not a radical assessment. IT services now play a critical role throughout the public sector, in myriad different forms. For example, the recent ForeSee E-Government Satisfaction Index highlighted the fact that governmental mobile websites and applications are not only increasingly common, but also frequently outperform similar offerings from the private sector

The Gartner report emphasized that the growth of mobile IT will be only one part of the digital workplace in the future. Additionally, government employees will increasingly utilize social media in official capacities. Even more importantly, the study noted that data accessibility will prove critical this year and well into the future. 

"The digital workplace is open, flat and democratic," Gartner explained. "It is the organizational manifestation of open government."

Multichannel matters
Related to the rise of the digital workplace is the growing emphasis on multichannel citizen engagement – the No. 2 tech trend in Gartner's report. People now increasingly expect businesses to provide access and support through a range of channels, from phone to email to SMS to websites and beyond. Now, citizens are beginning to expect the same level of service from government bodies. 

It is very possible for agencies to deliver on this promise. However, it will require a concerted effort throughout government agencies.

Leadership needed
Discussing the report, Rick Howard, Gartner's research director, asserted that the continuing rise of digital solutions within government bodies will have a major impact on the way agencies operate.

"These strategic technology trends have substantial disruptive potential that is just beginning to materialize and will reach an inflection point within the next three to five years," he said, according to IT Brief. 

To guide this process, government agencies will need to establish strong leadership from IT decision-makers, according to Gartner. Without guidance, it will be difficult or even impossible for government departments to make this transition smoothly. 

"Organizations must have the right tools and the right strategy in place."

However, strong leadership in and of itself will not prove sufficient for this task. It is also imperative that organizations have the right tools and the right strategy in place to enable both the digital workplace and the development of omnichannel constituent services.

To this end, infrastructure optimization and data management are essential. Without infrastructure optimization, there will be no way to ensure that agencies' IT operations are truly aligned with their long-term and short-term missions. Adding IT services and channels while shifting toward purely digital operations without a coherent, carefully considered strategy will lead to confusion and inefficiencies. At the same time, the introduction of more digital tools and streams will inevitably produce a massive uptick in information quantities, making data management essential to ensure security and compliance are balanced with utility.