Ah – legacy IT. The sclerotic backbone of governments everywhere. It never ceases to amaze me what people who work in government will put up with. When I worked for the Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, I got a first-hand look at one of the systems used at the Department of Health. It was ancient, the user experience was poor, and worst of all, it was incredibly slow. The poor employee had to wait 30-60 seconds or more every time she made a particular request. Imagine if you had to wait 30 seconds to a minute for results every time you typed something into Google’s search engine. You’d move on to another product pretty quickly, wouldn’t you? But when it comes to legacy government IT, we all just keep on keepin’ on, regardless of the negative impacts on productivity, customer service, and employee satisfaction.
Thankfully, a ray of light has emerged on the horizon. Like the proverbial knight in shining armor, technology startups around the world have figured out a way to break into the government IT market. What does this mean for government professionals? It means a way out for that poor woman at the Department of Health. It means that you will be able to get access to the tools you need more quickly and easily than ever before. And it means that governments everywhere will finally be liberated from the ridiculous costs, slow update cycles, and multi-year procurement headaches that have been holding them back for decades.
It won’t be immediate, but I predict that govtech startups are going to knock the socks off of traditional IT vendors. They are flat out better, faster, and cheaper than the big companies that have dominated the government IT world to date. It’ll take time, but eventually everyone will be moving to these new and better platforms. The question for you as a government professional is, are you going to sit on the sidelines and wait or do you want to start benefiting right now?