Cloud computing, cybersecurity top investments for government CIOs in 2018

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Government CIOs have a full agenda for 2018, including top investments in cloud services (19%), cybersecurity (17%) and big data analytics (16%), according to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey. The predictions are based on interviews with 3,160 CIOs from 98 countries, including 461 who work in government institutions.

CIOs understand that governments, like other sectors, are moving toward digital transformation, with heavy investment foreseen in cloud computing, security and analytics. The survey found that digital transformation is a top priority for 18 percent of government representatives, while respondents from the private sector named growth and market share as top concerns. For many government CIOs, security, safety and risk (13 percent), governance, compliance and regulations (12 percent), and technology initiatives and improvements (11 percent) are also top of mind.

"Digital transformation revolves around data. To be successful, public sector CIOs need to focus on expanding their data and analytics capabilities and creating a data-centric culture, by increasing the availability of open data and APIs for internal use and public consumption," said Rick Howard, research vice president at Gartner. "Building out data analytics infrastructure is fundamental to improving government program outcomes and services to citizens."

The focus of their plans is to consolidate infrastructures and IT systems by leveraging key technologies to reduce costs and increase efficiency and productivity. When asked what was critical in achieving their organization’s mission, business intelligence (19%) and analytics (18%) were named as key technologies for investment.

"Government CIOs have conflicting priorities — to bring transformative change to their organizations, while pursuing compliance-oriented priorities," Howard said. "They will need to work constructively with other business leaders to agree how to balance risk and innovation to support digital transformation."

Although artificial intelligence is among the top 10 investment targets for the private sector this year, government CIOs, except for those in defense and intelligence (7%), don’t consider that technology nor the Internet of Things as major points in their technology budgets. Significant cost savings are planned for data center infrastructures specifically, Gartner says.

Even though, overall, public sector CIOs were not as focused on IoT as on other key technologies, local government representatives did express interest in smart city projects based on a high number of IoT sensors that collect data in real-time and track activity.

30 percent of government CIOs named cloud services and solutions, and infrastructure and data centers among their top 10 budget priorities in 2018, versus 12 percent of other CIOs.

"Many government CIOs are rebalancing capital expenditure (capex) and operating expenditure (opex) spending patterns to reduce technical debt, while making the strategic shift to cloud," said Howard. "They should consider cloud as the means to accelerate the digitalization of their organizations and enable the business optimization that results."

As we head toward a connected world, digitalization is fully transforming the workforce and its culture. While companies struggle to fix the shortage of personnel that could reduce security incidents, hackers get more sophisticated in attack methods. Governments build up large amounts of data, so investments in cybersecurity and IT infrastructures are critical to protect taxpayer data.

"The lessons of reputational damage and individual harm that can result from a data breach or compromised security have not been lost on business leaders," explained Howard. "Consequently, they're willing to allocate more resources and attention to lower risk exposure from cyberattacks."