Global cities are on the cusp of great change. It’s happening fast, thanks to breakthroughs in information and communications technology (ICT). In 2013, we saw faster next-generation service delivery than most government leaders thought possible, and new tools and devices increased efficiency in city systems and workforces. 2014 promises more of the same. City leaders who view ICT as an asset—not a cost—are poised for transformation that enhances life for citizens and government employees alike. As I look back and ahead, here are the critical trends I see driving this transformation.
3 big trends that emerged in 2013
Rapid modernization of city systems—The world’s cities are modernizing essential systems faster and more affordably than you might think. Last year we saw new or modernized transportation, public safety, and health and human services systems popping up in cities all over the world. Broad availability of analytic tools—Cities everywhere can now correlate information and reach conclusions more quickly because of how they use Big Data and the wide availability of mainstream analytic tools such as those in Office 365. Expanded role of mobile devices—In 2012, few took mobility further than creating citizen-facing smartphone applications. But in 2013, mobility came into play as a way to increase worker productivity in both government and the private sector. We also stopped talking just about smartphones and started discussing convertible laptops, tablets, and most recently phablets like the Nokia Lumia 1520 as a way to improve how city services are delivered.
4 trends that are about to pop in 2014
Data, data, data—Governments have begun to understand the value of their data and to evaluate new systems that will help them get more out of it. As a natural extension, they’re also exposing their data to researchers, academics, and small businesses who can do the same. In 2014 we’ll see more and more applications that can take advantage of that data. And we’ll see more worker-facing applications that allow governments to deliver new services at affordable costs.
Increasing social engagement—Citizens have integrated social media into their personal lives; this year governments will catch up. I predict dramatic growth in the way people within governments collaborate socially, and also in the way they interact socially with people outside of government agencies, such as citizens and partners.
Widespread cloud consolidation—We’ve been talking about the cloud for several years, but now there’s enough security accreditation that governments are ready to move. I expect widespread consolidation of government infrastructure into cloud platforms in 2014.
Rapid mobile expansion—The inroads made by tablets and phablets at the end of 2013 will continue into 2014, driving the growth of mobility solutions in government agencies. Workers, weary of carrying redundant devices, have been waiting for ways to be productive when they’re out and about. In 2014, more of them will use just one device that connects to the cloud and runs all of their productivity and business applications. Phablets may be the answer.
These are all great trends for cities that need to “do new with less.” The tools are here, and they’re already driving the transformation. To make the most of the year ahead, let’s make a New Year’s resolution together: let’s challenge ourselves to embrace change—to understand the new technologies and the roles they can play in transforming IT services. While you’re at it, you can challenge vendors, partners, and even your IT staff to join you in embracing ICT as an asset, recognizing its importance in delivering innovative new services that will make your city great. Try that and 2014 will indeed be a transformative year.
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