Embracing change: Employees are increasingly tied to technology transformation

Big changes are taking shape in the public sector, and they’re being driven by technology. From cloud computing to Big Data analytics, emerging technologies are evolving at the speed of Moore’s Law—and in the process—are redefining the way public sector organizations do business.

However, while these technology trends present huge opportunities for government organizations to become more efficient and deliver enhanced services, leveraging new technologies successfully will largely depend upon how well they integrate with the most valuable resource in government: employees.

During my conversations with senior government officials and policy makers worldwide, I am hearing more and more about the importance of having the appropriate processes, policies, and training in place to support employees, who must ultimately incorporate these new technologies into their daily work.  On the other hand, government organizations are also finding that they need to become more flexible to accommodate the tools and devices employees want to use, as well as the ways in which they work.

What this means is supporting things like telework and embracing new trends like the consumerization of IT/bring your own device (BYOD) to work phenomenon. Collectively, I believe it’s part of a cultural shift that’s taking place in the public sector—one in which the employee has greater influence over an organization’s IT decision-making. Below are three areas in which this cultural shift is evident:

Consumerization of IT/BYOD

The reality is that more and more employees are bringing personal devices like smartphones and tablets into the workplace. In fact, research/analyst firm Gartner estimates that by 2014, 90 percent of organizations will support corporate applications on personal devices. This movement can offer huge benefits to government organizations, as employees’ familiarity with these platforms can greatly improve productivity. However, it’s critical that both parties understand the implications. Government organizations may need to adjust outdated policies, while employees may need training on specific guidelines to ensure that their devices – and their organization’s data – are secure. We recently explored what the consumerization of IT means for public sector CIOs on our blog. Another interesting source to check out is a recent blog post from Forrester analyst Matthew Brown, who discusses the consumerization of IT and observes how well organizations are adapting to this change.

Cloud Computing

Around the world, governments are embracing cloud computing as a way to cut costs and boost efficiency. However, as cloud adoption continues to grow, infrastructure management and other services typically handled by internal IT professionals are being increasingly outsourced.  Through this process, the role of internal IT employees is undergoing a transformation—both in public and private sectors. This notion is supported by analyst firm K2 Advisory, which points to this emerging trend in its 2012 Research Program. What this means for government is that leadership will need to start re-examining the role of IT, and work with IT employees to define new opportunities to leverage their expertise.

Big Data

The amount of data being generated by both online and offline sources is exploding at an exponential rate. Harnessing this wealth of information offers new possibilities for governments to better understand and engage with their citizens, as well as run their organizations more effectively. However, data analytics requires unique skills to make sense of all of the information and gain relevant insights. Organizations will need to equip employees with the right tools and training to develop and enhance their ability to work with data, and support data-driven decision making. For more information, I encourage you to read a great blog post contributed by Joel Cherkis, our General Manager of Worldwide Government and Security, who explores Big Data’s emerging role in government.

While these technology trends hold great promise for the public sector, to truly realize their value, it will require action on the part of governments and, in many cases, a cultural change in the workplace to embrace the fact that employees are more closely tied to IT decision-making than ever before. Check back again soon for my future posts, as I continue to explore how IT is becoming increasingly employee-centric.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Cigdem Aygun
Government Industry Solutions Lead, Worldwide Public Sector