3 reasons governments must modernize now

15 January 2014 | John Weigelt, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Canada

In today’s climate of declining IT budgets and the need to make do with what you have, you might be wondering how your city can afford the escalating cost of day-to-day operations. Your buildings are probably full of legacy hardware, software, and servers—and budgets won’t support replacing all of that with the modern standards-based, Web-enabled, cloud-compatible technologies of the day. 

I understand. And I’m here to tell you, that’s exactly what you must do anyway. Here’s why.

Running legacy systems isn’t sustainable

Sixty percent of Microsoft’s government customers are still running Windows XP. This was an outstanding operating system—when it was released 10 years ago. But since then Microsoft has continued to innovate and hackers have continued to intrude. Windows XP is so old that Microsoft won’t support it after April 2014. At that time, your maintenance costs could skyrocket, running into the millions in some cases. A better use of that money is to invest in a highly efficient, modern operating system. It sounds like a paradox, but you may have to spend money to save money. 

Modern workplaces improve productivity

A modern workplace with the latest mobile- and touch-enabled devices, automation tools, productivity software, and cloud-enabled infrastructure allows your employees to work from anywhere. They can work in the office, the field, their cars, or from a coffee shop. All of their contacts and information are at their fingertips. Information is elevated to intelligence. And everything’s synced. They spend a fraction of the time they used to on organization—time they can now devote to providing better services to citizens. 

A great example comes from Argentina. Its Ministry of Justice and Human Rights saw a 40 percent increase in employee productivity when it unified its communications systems. By using a single platform for email, calls, and video, the ministry greatly simplified implementation, training, support, and maintenance, enabling 3,000 people across the organization to work more efficiently. 

Modern workplaces save money

The “modern workplace” used to be science fiction. Now it’s real. I’m seeing governments around the world modernizing the workplace. One reason is that the cost of technology has gone down, taking some of the bite out of upfront investments. But it’s also because they’re seeing day-to-day, ongoing cost savings by making one-time investments in modern technology. 

Here are some of the areas that workplace modernization can help you save :

  • Internet, call center, and kiosk services eliminate some traditional counter services, reducing office and staffing expenses.
  • Document management tools eliminate the need for stacks of paper, manual input, double entry, and other inefficiencies.
  • Business intelligence tools crunch the numbers for you, enabling faster, more cost-focused decision making.
  • Electronic submission of citizen complaints, requests, and applications streamlines troubleshooting and communication.  
  • Concurrent work processes not possible with paper save time and money.
  • Cloud infrastructure that’s hosted by a third party costs less than running the infrastructure in-house.  

It’s time to catch up

Public-sector technology typically lags behind private-sector technology, and governments are typically slower to adopt the technologies that citizens often have in their homes. That can’t continue. To grow and compete in this century—and to meet the high expectations of citizens moving forward—governments need to begin modernizing the IT environment right away. In my next post, I’ll discuss four key areas that governments should focus on when modernizing the workplace. Until then, check out some of Microsoft's solutions for government workplace modernization.

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Or e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

John Weigelt
National Technology Officer, Microsoft Canada

About the Author

John Weigelt | National Technology Officer, Microsoft Canada

John drives Microsoft Canada’s strategic policy and technology efforts. He is the lead advocate for the use of technology by private and public sectors, economic development, innovation, environmental sustainability, accessibility, privacy, and security.