As-a-service (aaS) IT is a powerful force in helping government agencies optimize how they use data. Better use of data gives problem-solvers the resources they need to identify opportunities for improving how the agency operates and delivers services.
How can agencies use aaS IT to support these change agents in leading transformation?
Legacy Systems to aaS
The quality of government services is typically a product of an agency’s capabilities. To keep pace with the expectations of a digitally reliant public, today’s government must be able to access and leverage as much accurate, real-time information as possible, from multiple sources. At the same time, it must be agile enough to continuously innovate its processes and capabilities. This is a challenge for agencies operating on legacy systems.
Legacy systems disadvantage agencies by keeping relevant and valid government data trapped in silos, without the ability to share or correlate information easily. Traditionally, legacy systems have made data available mainly to IT staff and executive decision makers, and are built as fixed, mainframe environments that are difficult to revamp or merge. The time and money required to maintain these traditional, on-premise capital assets don’t leave room for innovation, and, especially as systems age, can be a drain on an agency’s IT budget and staff capacity. While these systems can be great repositories of information, they can’t be relied upon to derive insight, make predictions, identify patterns, or illuminate areas for improvement.
Align Technology With Strategy
Programs like the Open Government Initiative and the Cloud First policy have prompted agencies to explore aaS alternatives to legacy systems. They promote the notion that government should be transparent, participatory and collaborative. And, as always, efficiency and cost savings are paramount.
For many agencies, aaS IT is the solution. The on-demand nature of aaS in a flexible, cloud-hosted environment offers the ability to share data and automate processes, while reducing cost of ownership and deployment times. So, how can agencies use these capabilities to encourage innovation?
Democratization of Data
Organizations are rich ecosystems of knowledge. AaS can help agencies leverage the power of those ecosystems by extending resources to the individuals who compose them.
An aaS model makes it possible to share, visualize and analyze data across departments and agencies, at any level of an organization. This democratization of data is vital because of one important point: no one person has all the answers. Leaders in an organization will always have blind spots, and it is often employees on the front lines who have the most visibility to specific issues.
When everyone in an organization has access to information, each member of the workforce is empowered to identify problems and improvement opportunities that may have gone undetected by the enterprise – and they can support their unique insights with data-driven evidence. Each person has the potential to be an agent of change.
AaS IT’s Role in a Culture of Innovation
Agencies who want to empower change agents should shift away from the traditional “top-down” information flow. Often, the most qualified change leaders are those who are on the “edge” of an organization or function. These are the people who touch multiple parts of an enterprise (or interact with external parties), and are often the closest to changing dynamics. Someone like this is in a prime position to use data to find correlations, inconsistencies or redundancies that others may be blind to. They’re also uniquely positioned to disseminate change across an organization rather than within a silo. With the aaS model, “edge” employees have access to the tools and information that can help them derive their own meaningful conclusions to benefit the enterprise at large. AaS enables autonomy at every level, which is essential to a culture of innovation.
For an agency to be innovative, it needs to embrace a diversity of views around shared goals. With a network of change agents who can share information easily, an organization is better equipped to find creative solutions that benefit all stakeholders. Using aaS capabilities, end-users from different vantage points can tap into a shared pool of resources to create unique remixes of data and arrive at original insights. In many cases, government can even extend this opportunity to the public. With access to public-facing data and aaS tools, experts in academia, business and other areas can perform their own data remixes and share findings that support smarter policy and governance.
Individual Insights for Improved Mission Performance
Today, data governance isn’t just about controlling access to information; it’s about driving agility and productivity. Democratizing data moves intelligence closer to people on the front lines and allows them to share insights that can impact performance on an enterprise scale. With aaS, government can empower millions of innovative minds to advance its missions, with measurable progress.