April 11, 2016 | Written by: Matt Spaloss
Government operations will be transformed through cognitive solutions and cloud platforms. This transformation will improve program outcomes, enhance the citizen interaction, enable regulatory compliance, and lower operational costs
Recently, President Obama spoke at the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW). “Look, we are at a moment in history where technology, globalization, our economy is changing so fast,” he said. “Those changes offer us enormous opportunities but also are very disruptive and unsettling. They empower individuals to do things that they could have never dreamed of before, but they also empower folks who are very dangerous to spread dangerous messages.” Then he gave his pitch. “So the reason I’m here really is to recruit all of you.”
Why is disruptive innovation on the president’s agenda? And why does the chief executive of the largest employer in the world feel he needs help from the outside? He said that part of the reason is that the Government “has to take on the hardest problems”. And that “when Government does great things, we take it for granted.” But he also said that Government “is often its own worst enemy (when) people interact in a direct way with Government.”
New Platforms, New Ideas, New Approaches
Digital transformation has the potential to replace obsolete models for delivering Government services. It’s not just process improvement or an IT upgrade, it means transforming the way Government delivers services. We have seen digital transformation disrupt industries and transform businesses. We expect a similar transformation from our Government. This means services delivered anytime, anywhere, on any device. It means cloud enabled capabilities, with strong cyber security throughout. It also means analytics and cognitive capabilities to improve mission delivery. And it means using new methods, like Design Thinking and Agile, to focus on mission value.
Design Thinking, Agile, and Enterprise Scale
Design Thinking starts with the user experience. It provides a framework to deliver great user outcomes at enterprise scale. It brings a multidisciplinary team and a spirit of restless reinvention. The result is a powerful behavioral model and a set of key practices to scale design thinking to even the most complex projects. Agile combines leadership, collaboration, and delivery practices to implement those user outcomes on digital platforms. Technology is an enabler, but focus on user outcomes is the key to success.
Cognitive and Big Data Transformation
Today, 80% of the world’s data is unstructured, meaning data contained in documents and images. Until recently, computers could only record and store this data. Cognitive systems understand, reason, and learn to make sense of it. Now think about the top medical priorities facing the US Government. The potential to save lives and improve quality of life is immense. Cognitive solutions can assist a doctor by reviewing immense amounts of research documentation against an individual patient’s medical records and providing insights that may have otherwise been overlooked. They can also look across medical records to see which medical procedures have resulted in more successful short and long term outcomes.
President Obama requested $3.1 Billion in next year’s budget for IT Modernization. The Office of Management and Budget is developing a policy and putting together a plan for that funding. The idea is to invest in aligning Government services with the latest technology practices. This has the potential to improve Government services, by focusing on modernizing the underlying technology. This includes migrating to cloud platforms, integrating cyber security into applications, and breaking down application and data silos. It is also intended to cut cost. The hope is that the cost savings generated by this $3.1 Billion investment yields reduced operating costs, which the Government can spend on further IT Modernization in subsequent years. Done right, this could be a self-sustaining investment that yields returns for years to come.
Shared Services at Scale
Government Shared services have the potential to improve outcomes, increase compliance, and reduce cost. It also allows employees to be redirected to mission-critical tasks. Yet a recent McKinsey article
shows significant underinvestment. Only 22% of the shared services organizations studied are building capabilities in automation. Less than 20% are streamlining internal operations through analytics. And only about 10% are using analytics for external use to support the business. Shared services hold the promise of being a key contributor to the Government digital transformation.
The Government Transformation Call to Action
IBM sees the promise of a Government transformed by digital services. We see better services, better program outcomes, higher regulatory compliance, and lower cost. But the work is just beginning. We understand the Government mission. We are leaders in digital transformation. We add value through cloud platforms and cognitive solutions. IBM has the technologies and expertise to deploy secure, robust solutions at enterprise scale. We can transform operations to make Government work better.
For a broader view on areas where IBM is working to help government address similar challenges and opportunities in 2016, please read Dan Chenok’s blog post at: http://businessofgovernment.org/blog/business-government/helping-government-address-major-challenges-and-opportunities-0