May 19 2014

3 Digital Trends Poised to Change Federal IT

CIOs must decide what role they will play in shaping their agencies’ digital future.

The advent of cloud computing, mobile apps and social media is drastically transforming the role of chief information officers in the digital age.

CIOs are no longer the gatekeepers of information technology. Employees have access to a plethora of smart devices and thousands of Internet-based tools that have empowered even nontechies. So, what does this mean for CIOs and their IT organizations?

According to Accenture’s 2014 Technology Vision report, “It is now time for the CIO’s organization to decide what role it plays in the emerging digital business — reinforcing the organization’s technology backbone while equipping the business side with the knowledge, understanding, and partnerships with IT to leverage that stronger backbone.”

While the report is geared primarily toward the private sector, there are takeaways for government executives. Accenture highlights several trends for CIOs to keep in mind as they direct their agency’s digital strategy and what they can do within 100 days to begin the journey. Here are three of those trends:

Digital-physical blur: Extending intelligence to the edge

The physical world is going digital. More devices are enabling people to “influence the way they experience everything around them.” Autonomous drones, driverless cars and wearable computers are bringing the physical world online. Agencies can use data generated by these types of devices to make decisions in real time.

Next 100 days: Develop a governance strategy to act on real-time data and enhance decisions at the edge.

From workforce to crowdsource: Rise of the borderless enterprise

Imagine your workforce extending beyond the walls of your agency to a larger network of connected Internet users. Cloud technologies, social media and collaboration tools can help your agency benefit from human resources around the world. “Such an approach can give every business access to an immense, agile workforce that not only is better suited to solving some of the problems that organizations struggle with today, but in many cases will do it for free.” For example, dozens of agencies have used the platform to solicit the public’s help to solve tough problems. Some challenges offer cash prizes while others reward participants with public recognition.

Next 100 days: Develop an initial strategy to engage existing online communities in support of your core functions.

Data supply chain: Putting information into circulation

The success of federal websites such as is proving that open data is powerful. For too long, data silos have and continue to limit “the value that organizations can get out of their own data by making it difficult to get to.” Accenture encourages agencies to treat data like a supply chain, and enable information to flow easily and usefully throughout their organizations and to their partners.

Next 100 days: Start to build an inventory of your data, beginning with your most frequently accessed and time-relevant data — which will be given first access to your data platform and accelerated on it.

To learn more, read Accenture’s full report.