Government CIO priorities in 2018, says Gartner: cloud, cybersecurity, and analytics

To achieve digital transformation, public sector CIOs need to focus on expanding their data and analytics capabilities and creating a data-centric culture, says the analyst group off the back of a global poll of e-gov leader priorities

Posted 23 January 2018 by

Cloud, cybersecurity and analytics are the top technologies targeted for new and additional spending by public sector CIOs in 2018, while data centre infrastructure is the most commonly targeted for cost savings, according to a survey from Gartner released this week.

Its 2018 CIO Agenda Survey gathers data from 3,160 Chief Information Officers in 98 countries and across major industries, including 461 government CIOs.

Government respondents were segmented into National or Federal, state or province (regional), local and defence and intelligence so as to best identify trends specific to each tier.

The main findings: Sixteen per cent of government CIOs said they plan to increase spending on business intelligence (BI) and analytics (16%) and data management (6%) in 2018, while digital transformation is the top-ranked business priority among government CIOs overall, followed by security and governance.

“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,” says Rick Howard, research vice president at Gartner.

“Building out data analytics infrastructure is fundamental to improving government programme outcomes and services to citizens.”

Howard and his team also found that digital business/digital transformation is more important for government (first priority for 18% of respondents) than for all industries (17%), with the exception of defence and intelligence agencies (6%). Private sector companies ranked it second, after growth/market share. The next three business priorities for government are security, safety and risk (13%); governance, compliance and regulations (12%); and technology initiatives/improvements (11%).

“Government CIOs have conflicting priorities — to bring transformative change to their organisations, while pursuing compliance-oriented priorities,” comments Howard.

“They will need to work constructively with other business leaders to agree how to balance risk and innovation to support digital transformation.”

In response to the question, ‘Which technology investment is most crucial to achieving your organisation’s mission?’ cloud and BI/analytics were mentioned by 19% and 18%of government CIOs respectively, followed by infrastructure/data centre at 11%. National and Federal CIOs are the exception, placing customer relationship management as a distant third, says the market watcher.

Artificial intelligence (AI) ranks among the top 10 technology area for the overall sample, but is not present for government (ranked 19th ). The exception is defence and intelligence, where a greater percentage of CIOs mentioned AI (7%) over CIOs in other industries (6%), while application programming interfaces  are considered important by a greater percentage of Federal or national CIOs (four per cent) than other tiers of government or the private sector, which did not position APIs among the top 10 technologies.

Cloud services/solutions and infrastructure/data centre combined was ranked in the top 10 by 30% of government CIOs, compared with only 12% in all other industries. In contrast, digitalisation/digital marketing in the private sector sits at 16%, more than twice the rate in government (six per cent), while IoT (The Internet of Things) is a top 10 item for all industries, but is not present for government (ranked 12th). The two exceptions are local government due to smart city projects, as well as defence and intelligence, which relies on data flowing from sensors that monitor a wide range of activity.

For Howard, that means that, “Many government CIOs are rebalancing capital expenditure and operating expenditure spending patterns to reduce technical debt, while making the strategic shift to cloud.

“They should consider cloud as the means to accelerate the digitalisation of their organisations and enable the business optimisation that results.”

Consistent with ranking cloud, analytics and infrastructure/data centre as crucial to achieving the organisation’s mission, government CIOs also anticipate increased spending in security, it seems.

Only 5% of government CIOs polled by the group considered security and risk as crucial to achieving their organisation’s mission, but 17% told Gartner researchers that nonetheless expect to boost spending in cyber/information security. This indicates that security is not a competitive differentiator for government, comments the study, but additional spending over historical levels in this area is warranted as a response to relentless attempts to exploit system vulnerabilities.

“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,” Howard says. “Consequently, they’re willing to allocate more resources and attention to lower risk exposure from cyberattacks.”