Steve Lefrancois examines the adoption rate and impact of mobility, cloud, M2M and big data solutions by pioneering public sector organizations
by Kevin W. Irland
Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, last month, published “The Digital Dividend: First-Mover Advantage,” a report sponsored by Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Based on surveys of 672 global business and technology leaders from a broad range of industries, the report examines technology adoption and its impact on organizational transformation and innovation.
Within public sector, the study revealed the following.
- 64 percent of respondents said they feel IT is an investment that drives innovation,
- 51 percent of respondents said that cultural flexibility to adapt to new ways of doing business was holding back use of new technology,
- 46 percent of respondents said they need the ability to envision new ways of doing things.
I recently sat down with Steve Lefrancois, the chief technology officer for Verizon Public Sector Markets, to discuss the Harvard Business Review study and key public sector technology-related findings.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that nearly a third of public sector respondents said they do not use cloud at all and only 16 percent use it extensively. Do you see cloud adoption in the public sector accelerating in the near future?
Steve Lefrancois (SL): Many of the factors that hindered early adoption of cloud computing within public sector have been resolved, including budget cycles, procurement and contracting, and security concerns. Many agencies at all levels of government are now actively engaged in developing cloud migration plans and identifying new and legacy applications that can be deployed in the cloud. I am particularly encouraged by the number of agreements that Verizon has signed with group purchasing organizations this year, including the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, Colorado's Statewide Internet Portal Authority, and the Unisys public cloud hosting contract with the Western States Contracting Alliance-National Association of State Procurement Officers. Overall, I would say that cloud adoption within the public sector is in the early stages and the outlook for acceleration is very positive.
Were you surprised by the mobile adoption data revealed in the report? Is mobility a growth area for public sector?
SL: While adoption of mobility across public sector tracks very closely to that of all industries (94 percent vs. 96 percent), only 41 percent of public sector respondents (versus 61 percent for all industries) indicate they use the technology extensively. This result is not very surprising when one considers how mobility has typically been used within public sector. You have mobile support for executive-level employees and those who are mobile, you have teleworking programs (particularly at the federal level) and then there are education and public safety deployments.
Mobility is another technology growth area for public sector, especially as public sector organizations figure out how to fund broad-based mobility programs, and identify ways of reengineering business processes and citizen engagement models.
According to HBR, fewer than half of public sector respondents use machine-to-machine at all and 21 percent of those using it said they didn’t know what impact it was having on operations. What public sector applications make sense for machine-to-machine technology?
SL: This technology, also referred to as M2M or the Internet of Things, has a multitude of applications within public sector. We are already seeing strong adoption of solutions, such as those for fleet and traffic management, energy and building management, Smart City initiatives and even environmental monitoring. As the technology continues to mature and sensors are embedded into more and more devices, the application for M2M will continue to expand. This technology has great potential to automate previously manual processes and drive efficiency and employee productivity improvements within public sector workforces.
The HBR study revealed that only 13 percent of public sector respondents said their organization makes extensive use of advanced analytics, compared to an average of 31 percent of all survey respondents. What is the potential for big data and analytics services in the public sector?
SL: The potential of big data and analytics is one that I personally find the most interesting. From a technology perspective, it involves the integration of powerful IP and wireless networks, cloud computing, and M2M. From a data perspective, it entails the gathering, sharing and analysis of data, that in many cases was previously kept in organizational silos, and creating actionable intelligence. The possibilities are endless, ranging from the discovery of effective disease treatment regimes, and uncovering fraud, waste and abuse, to creating new student curricula and combatting crime before it even occurs. This industry is still nascent and one for which the future has not been written.
Download “The Digital Dividend: First-Mover Advantage” to learn more about public sector technology adoption trends.