Worldwide IT spending by government organizations is projected to total $449.5 billion in 2013, a slight decrease of 0.1 percent from 2012, according to Gartner. The forecast includes spending by government sector organizations on hardware, software, IT services and telecommunications.
Analysts revised the growth rate downward from the previous forecast of 0.2 percent growth, as government agencies continue to struggle against weak economic development. Despite decreased spending in some areas, a recent survey indicates mobile technologies, IT modernization and cloud computing are the top three focus areas for investment in 2013. Strong interest continues to grow in professional services and big data.
“Cloud computing, in particular, continues to increase compared with prior years, driven by economic conditions and a shift from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, as well as potentially more important factors such as faster deployment and reduced risk,” says Christine Arcaris, research director at Gartner. “Other areas, such as data center consolidation, are lower on the list than in previous years, perhaps demonstrating that they may have met resistance in a more strategic roll-out. Vendors should be ready to reposition offerings according to these changing market dynamics.”
Organisations are adopting public and private cloud-based services at an increasing rate, with 30-50 percent of the firms planning for, or having an active IT services contract within the next 12 months. While the focus initially was on software-as-a-service (SaaS) implementation, future rollouts will include infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS). As the top priority, mobility is increasing in importance among government agencies worldwide. Demand is strongest in government agencies with more decentralized staff and those that have a large field workforce or specialized needs (such as border patrol agents, inspectors and social workers) and that benefit from mobile investments. This next wave of technology adoption will develop over time, as agencies replace existing hardware with new mobile infrastructure and devices.
Furthermore, the momentum is building for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, but questions continue. Of the organizations surveyed, 52 percent said employees are allowed to bring their own smartphones to work, and 50 percent can use their own laptop, followed by tablets at 38 percent. Vendors must also understand how growing interest in BYOD policies and strategies may impact opportunities in the government sector. Security and governance may limit the pace and adoption. Also, while big data is not yet a high priority among survey respondents, it is gaining momentum. The focus on government efficiency and effectiveness means opportunity for big data/analytics, as it represents an emerging focal point for specific government modernization.
“Government organizations have increased big data spending for improper payment systems, indicating the desire to tackle fraud, waste and abuse within agencies, as well as target upfront errors in revenue collection,” adds Arcaris. “While agencies are assessing how to manage, leverage and store big data, not many have addressed the challenges associated with the utilization of content and the issues associated with merging large amounts of data onto a single platform.” Vendors must acknowledge the challenges here, and tie big data solutions back to specific agency workflows.