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Govt CIOs struggling with legacy tech: Survey

But increase cloud adoption could provide an answer, says Gartner

Gartner said that federal CIOs in particular were struggling to modernise legacy technologies due to budget constraints
Gartner said that federal CIOs in particular were struggling to modernise legacy technologies due to budget constraints

Government CIOs are struggling to digitise their organisations, thanks largely to the heavy presence of legacy technologies that they have to contend with, according to recent a survey by Gartner.

The 2015 CIO Agenda surveyed over 2,800 CIOs worldwide on their top digital business opportunities, threats and strategies and includes responses from 343 government CIOs.                                                                          

"The burden of legacy technologies in government puts innovation on a path of incremental improvement when agility and quick solution delivery is expected," said Rick Howard, research director at Gartner.

"To demonstrate 'digital now, digital first' leadership in government, CIOs must flip their approach to managing IT from the inside-out perspective of legacy constraints to the outside-in view of citizen experience. 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." 

Unfortunately, despite being in the top five technology priorities for government CIOs in 2015, securing the funds to invest in legacy modernisation may be a stretch, especially for those at the federal or national level, Gartner said. Approximately 30% of federal and national CIOs said they are dealing with decreasing IT budgets. This compares with 15% of state, local and regional (SLR) government CIOs who have the same challenge.

That said, the research house pointed out that 27% of the SLR government CIOs surveyed in the EMEA region indicated their IT budgets are declining.

As vendors capture more of the public sector cloud market, Gartner said that it would highly probable that government IT organisations will slowly reduce their role as infrastructure providers and data centre operators in order to get around the problem of not having enough budget to upgrade legacy infrastructure.

Instead, Gartner predicted that government IT organisations will serve as a broker of those foundational new services, adopting a ‘digital first' orientation, rather than a ‘legacy first' one. The research house pointed out that this is already happening in the United States, where some government departments are adopting a hybrid cloud-sourcing strategy.  

"By shifting the management and provisioning of infrastructure to centralised government shared-service entities or to viable commercial vendors, government CIOs can lead by example and update IT management techniques to adopt the design-for-change mindset that is essential in the digital age," said Howard.

"In relatively short time, cloud has moved from a concept, to a possibility, to a viable option and, for a small minority of government CIOs, is now first choice when a project comes along."