Jan 19 2022

4 Predictions That Will Shape Federal Data in 2022

How will data operations and agencies’ use of cloud-native platforms evolve in federal IT this year?

As the world entered the second year of the pandemic, our federal IT community continued its efforts to modernize the federal government and help agencies better meet their unique missions, from ensuring Americans’ access to COVID-19 resources to securing the nation’s most vulnerable supply chains.

The key to all of these public sector advancements remains clear: data. Data operations, or DataOps, has emerged as a vital foundation for agencies’ broader modernization goals.

The past year saw tremendous progress in the collection, visualization and analysis of federal agencies’ data, but it seems the best may be yet to come in 2022. As we look ahead — and we work to keep our own resolutions, IT-related or otherwise — here are four trends that are likely to progress in the coming months.

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1. Death to the Old Way of Managing Data Dashboards

For years, agency leaders have relied on dashboards to tell them what they need to know about their organizations’ programs and processes. However, the continued development of modern cloud platforms and DevSecOps principles is reshaping the way analytics are delivered and consumed, thus reducing agencies’ reliance on reports and dashboards.

Data and analytics will become a more seamless element of day-to-day business processes and workflows in 2022 and beyond, and there will be an increasing effort to place these capabilities directly into the applications that the federal workforce uses to execute even the simplest tasks. Dashboards will still exist, of course, but the way agencies have approached and depended on them will be a thing of the past.

EXPLORE: How will data analytics and AI in the government evolve in 2022?

2. Agencies Will Establish Their Own ‘Cultures of Data’

Until now, many agency leaders have discussed setting up a culture of data within their organizations, but few have been able to execute on this goal.

This year, senior federal leaders will make this a priority, shaping agency culture with increased expectations for the use of data in decision-making across all operational domains, even outlining these expectations in their strategies for the coming year, as Defense Information Systems Agency leaders did in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2022-2024 Strategic Plan.

To establish a culture of data, these leaders will bring about a new era of engagement with data that empowers their workforce at all levels to play a role and make a difference in how agencies execute their missions and serve citizens. At the same time, the increasingly digital-native workforce will expect access to data and the decision-making empowerment that comes with it.

This new era of data accessibility and engagement will enable agencies to identify untapped potential within their organizations — and ultimately determine how to make the most of the abundance of data at hand.

RELATED: What is a chief data officer and how can the role help federal agencies?

3. The End of Vendor Lock-In Will Begin

Much about 2021 was unprecedented, including the number of government contractors and IT providers that submitted their tools or services for certification through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.

As a result of this influx, a record number of new services will emerge from the FedRAMP authorization process in 2022, creating a seemingly endless menu of Software as a Service offerings ready to meet the needs of federal executives leading the IT modernization charge.

The new wave of available SaaS services will align with an era of rapid technology turnover, as much shorter adoption and air tasking order cycles allow agencies to make vendor lock-in a thing of the past.

4. Agencies Will Accelerate Adoption of Cloud-Native Platforms

In 2022, we will see accelerated adoption of cloud-native, enterprise-scale data platforms that serve a broad set of agency program and functional needs. As I mentioned, more and more FedRAMP-authorized solutions have been made available from industry innovators and cloud platform leaders in the past year, reducing agencies’ barriers to adoption.

The success of programs such as the Defense Department’s Advana will set a precedent that other organizations will follow in 2022. Cloud-native solutions will give agencies more opportunities for operational efficiency and end-to-end visibility.  

And while the proposed legislation to codify FedRAMP could have a monumental effect on the program and its certification process, it’s clear that cloud-native solutions are the path forward for federal IT.

It’s impossible to predict the future of our industry, but the potential for innovation feels promising. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the world of federal IT. The public sector has the opportunity to expand upon the successes it saw in 2021 and improve its ability to adopt — and sustain — technological advancements.

Laurence Dutton/Getty Images

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