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Four Ways States Can Overcome IT Complexity in a Hybrid World

From strategy and governance to selection of service and procurement, the cloud is key for CIOs at every level of state and local government. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) found cloud services and cloud solutions, as well as cloud technologies applications and tools, were top priorities for state CIOs this year. CompTIA Public Technology Institute (PTI) reached out to city and county IT leaders for its 2022 State of City and County IT National Survey and had a similar response: The cloud is a top-five priority for those IT leaders as well.

This focus on the cloud will continue, according to Gartner, as entities of all kinds face extreme pressure to digitize and modernize outdated IT systems, solutions, and services.

Other top drivers of increased IT complexity, according to the SolarWinds® IT Trends Report 2022, include new tools and technologies, increased technology requirements from multiple departments, and fragmentation between legacy and modern technologies. Respondents also cited the continued expanse of hybrid IT workloads, including running workloads and applications across both cloud and on-premises infrastructure, as well as supporting both new technologies and legacy infrastructure, as main drivers of the increased levels of IT management complexity.

IT complexity can’t be ignored because it threatens the ability to modernize and innovate in the ways government constituency demands, but it also affects the confidence of IT professionals who report they’re unsure of their ability to manage today’s complex environments. When asked how confident IT pros were in their organization’s ability to manage complexity, only 16% of respondents said they felt extremely confident.

More than a third of respondents (34%) reported that they aren’t fully equipped to manage complexity, and an additional 6% aren’t confident in their ability to manage complexity at all. This can impact the return on investment (ROI) in IT solutions and services the government must be able to show its stakeholders. There are ways, however, to help combat this crisis in confidence. The top four include:

1. Pay-as-you-go to eliminate risk and boost confidence in systems.

State and local agencies are pros at fiscal responsibility and can create greater value while maintaining this fiscal prudence by finding an IT vendor who offers a range of payment options. This also allows the opportunity to meet your IT needs today and set the foundation for inevitable changes in the future.

Subscription or one-off payments have budgetary benefits, but pay-as-you-go IT services shouldn’t be ignored. Pay-as-you-go IT offers a direct line-of-sight for the IT team between cost, waste, and inefficiency. It also forces IT pros to stay on top of maximizing the usage of what they buy. For example, if there’s a technological lag, you’ll likely reach out to the provider sooner for a fast fix.

It’s important to select the right option for the task at hand and the unique needs of your agency today and in the future, and pay-as-you-go IT service can offer real ROI for your team.

2. Size matters when choosing the right IT solution.

Regardless of the level of government, you are likely faced with some of the same challenges. However, the size of your workforce could vary widely depending upon the size of your town, city, or state and should be considered when deciding what tool, strategy, or technology could help your agencies better manage IT complexity.

So, before earmarking budget for an IT investment, factor in the size of your organization. A smaller city or town may be able to tackle complexity by bringing in one or two external consultants to lay out a strategy. This may not have the same impact at the state level, which might benefit from undertaking a cost-benefit analysis to determine the most effective way to manage big legacy tech stacks. 

3. The importance of training can’t be overstated.

Tech professionals and CIOs are the most important people in any strategic business discussion or decisions made involving emerging technologies. Not only do IT professionals understand the limits of their technology initiatives, but they also have insight into where any potential compliance and security risks are and how technology is best used to meet city, county, or statewide goals. 

Unfortunately, their confidence is waning, according to the SolarWinds report. Many IT pros feel they have suboptimal visibility into infrastructure and networks and require training and upskilling to get there. That’s where an investment in training would be a prudent budgetary commitment. Offering comprehensive, hands-on training — including the time to experiment and learn new technologies — is required to create the IT workforce government agencies need. 

4. You’ve got this. 

We all know everything changes, and in the tech world, it changes fast. IT pros have been through so many upgrades, migrations, and technologies “of the moment” they may need to take a minute to step back and consider that working to simplify complexity is merely another “change.”

For example, as more tools like Zoom and Slack are adopted, they seem easy to the end-user (which is good) but every new connection adds an additional layer of IT infrastructure. It can become overwhelming if you focus on this added complexity.

Let’s be honest: IT professionals like a challenge, and they’ve been through quite a few. Taking a step back and getting perspective on the pace of change — and why change is necessary — is an important part of tearing down silos and moving agencies forward.  

Fighting the problem of complexity is a battle for all of us. Trying these four steps are great ways to fight it and support your IT team.

Brandon Shopp currently serves as the group vice president of product strategy at SolarWinds. He has a proven success record in product delivery and revenue growth, with a wide variety of software product, business model, M&A, and go-to-market strategies experience. Shopp previously served as VP of product management for network management, systems management, as well as senior director of product management for systems and application management when he joined in 2018. Prior to SolarWinds, Shopp was the vice president of product management at AlienVault and the senior director of products at Embarcadero Technologies. Shopp holds a B.B.A. from Texas A&M University.

Image by Anna Shvets on pexels.com

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