Government & Public Sector

10 technology trends for the public sector in 2021

2020 was the year that no one could have foreseen, but for the public sector it demonstrated the requirement for incredible resilience and flexibility. It had to quickly pivot, break down barriers, share information and continue to deliver services to its citizens. 

Technology has been the foundation stone of this achievement. Forward-thinking governments and agencies understood the importance of digital solutions to deliver citizen benefits. Remote working technology, IT modernization and cyber security all became vital, with research showing that 60% of U.S. government officials felt the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in their organization.  

As the digital transformation of government continues in 2021, here are 10 technology trends likely to drive the public sector. 

Trend 1: IT modernization is task number one 

To facilitate modernization and technology adoption, public sector organizations will increasingly look to digital platforms to allow new systems to be quickly developed and information shared between employees, agencies and citizens. By embracing the transition to digital platforms in 2021 and beyond, government can deliver effective, connected public services in a challenging time of heightened demand and shrinking budgets. 

Trend 2: Cloud is the key enabler 

In 2021, government will use the software-driven nature of cloud services to simplify and automate what is increasingly complex and distributed infrastructure, while ensuring that resilience continuity and security are baked in. 

Trend 3: Remote working is here to stay 

In 2021, government organizations will evolve their business models to embed work processes that connect offices with offsite workspaces. To realize the full benefit of these new models, the citizen experience has to become more integrated with the employee experience as part of the organization’s end-to-end digital ecosystem.  

Trend 4: Citizens expect better digital experiences 

Over the next year, government will begin to focus on Digital Experience (DX) that brings together disciplines including customer experience, employee experience and user experience that have been previously isolated. Moving even more digital services online will help boost productivity, reduce government backlogs, and free up talent and resources for other priorities. For the citizen, they have more ease, flexibility and security when accessing government data online or providing confidential information as well as more control around how and when they access public services. 

Trend 5: Government is entering the era of hyperautomation 

COVID-19 rapidly forced government organizations towards remote, digital-first business models. Organizational resilience and digital operational excellence were required in a situation where most agencies were forced to do more with less. As a result of the pandemic, Forrester suggests that new forms of automation will support one in four remote workers either directly or indirectly by 2022. This is accelerating another trend that was already in progress: hyperautomation. 

Trend 6: 5G expands the possible 

5G is likely to be the catalyst to new digital innovations that can transform public services in areas such as health care, law enforcement, mobility, and many more. By understanding 5G, government organizations can prepare to exploit the technology to drive innovation for everyone. 

The public roll-out of 5G may still be some time down the track but the creation of private 5G networks – needed for the creation of smart cities – will be possible in 2021 for forward-thinking government agencies. 

Trend 7: IoT helps the digital and physical worlds merge 

To date, surveillance has driven government adoption of IoT technologies. In 2021, things may be about to change. The growth of cloud and edge computing will combine with IoT to unlock the possibilities to create smart cities and improve supply chain and digital service delivery. 

Trend 8: Agencies explore the potential of Edge computing 

As cloud become foundational, 2021 will see an increased focus in edge computing. In 2020, innovations in next-generation communications such as 5G, cloud-native technologies, and edge computing architectures have come together. This is enabling organizations to quickly create and deploy distributed services as well as using AI to quickly generate insight locally. 

Trend 9: AI and analytics drive better insights from government data 

The volume and variety of data that every public sector organization faces is extraordinary. As agencies deliver more services digitally, increase their mobile capabilities and look to IoT to bring intelligence at the network edge, that data grows exponentially. This represents both a benefit and a challenge. 

In 2021, AI and analytics have the potential to drive benefits in government in the form of increased employee productivity and decision-making while improving service delivery 

Trend 10: Cyber security is the foundation of everything 

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a massive increase in cyber attacks as hackers looked to take advantage of security gaps as people, processes and technology in government moved to a more remote environment. In 2021, government organizations will increasingly turn to enterprise Identity and Access Management (IAM) platforms to build zero trust capabilities. However, these solutions must be able to encompass partners and contractors to protect against attacks at every level of the supply chain.  

Summary 

There is no doubt that technology will continue to transform the public sector in 2021. As government agencies look ahead, they can use the pandemic as a long-term catalyst for technology advancements. By continuing to go digital, agencies can streamline operations, become more agile and better meet the needs of employees and citizens. 

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Brian Chidester

Brian Chidester is the Head of Worldwide Industry Strategy for Public Sector at OpenText and the host of "The Government Huddle with Brian Chidester" podcast from Government Marketing University. He is responsible for growing OpenText’s Public Sector practice while also ensuring the success of our public sector customers. Formerly, Brian served as the Industry Marketing Lead for Public Sector at Appian. He also has held product marketing roles with Monster Worldwide, Arrow ECS and IHS Markit, where he was awarded Best in Show - Lead Generation at the 2014 MarketingSherpa Email Awards. Mr. Chidester holds a B.S. in Communications Studies from Liberty University.

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