Preparing for a Digital Future

The landscape of state and local government is drastically changing. Citizens have come to expect the same modernization they are experiencing with private sector products from the government. While many state and local governments are well on their way to digital modernization, others are still looking for the most efficient way to implement modernization practices.

In order to learn from those who are farther along in their modernization journey, GovLoop brought together Paul Pauesick, Director of Information Technology at the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities (KCBPU) and Aaron Cornfield, Group Vice President, Sales Engineering, North America Public Sector, Higher Education and Health Care at Oracle. In the recent online training, How Can Government Prepare for the Digital Future, Pauesick and Cornfield discussed modernization from both a service provider and implementer perspective.

“Today’s digital economy is becoming the digital standard for government,” Cornfield explained. As a result, Oracle has identified four key ways government must move towards modernization.

Modern Back Office and HR

Cornfield explained that, “the four key drivers impacting human capital management are changing user expectation, painful and costly upgrades, complex IT environments, and budget pressures.” As a result, organizations are seeking alternative models and are largely moving towards public cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS).

“The benefits from SaaS applications are vast and include updates by the vendor, single code lines, all-inclusive subscriptions pricing, and rapid release cycles,” Cornfield explained. While modernization seems cumbersome for most agencies, the benefits from SaaS applications are changing the conversation surrounding office processes.

Modern Constituent Service

Governments have struggled to offer the same level of customer experience as the private sector. Cornfield emphasized, “constituents want to interact with their government through web self-service, email, social media, mobile, live voice, voice-self-service, and through other constantly evolving platforms.” In order to cater to this, governments need to make it easier for their constituents to communicate with them in the way they want. “Modernizing processes will allow governments to provide a modern citizen experience for all of their constituents,” Cornfield underscored.

Modern Analytics

Data driven processes are key to effective modernization. “Ultimately, government wants to be able to tell stories with their data and use it to explore how processes can be made more effective for constituents,” Cornfield explained. The journey to becoming a data driven enterprise and creating value from data starts with gathering the data, moves to creating visual analytics with the data, and ends in discovering trends from the data. Cornfield explained, “having the ability to analyze data in this way allows agencies to answer tougher questions faster and drive innovation.”

Modern Platform

The main job of an effective cloud platform is that it delivers agility and efficiency to the agency. “Additionally, the platform must be able to address the needs of government stakeholders, from developers, to architects, to the line of business,” Cornfield explained. From there, a broad set of cloud services can be utilized. These services include data management, application development, enterprise and data integration, business analytics, content, security, and IT operations management.

Cornfield emphasized why government agencies should go digital however, actually implementing these strategies is often the hardest part for organizations. As a result, Cornfield offered a seven step process to getting through the modernization process.

  1. Set the vision: Identify the problem you are trying to solve and the most expedient way to solve it.
  2. Prioritize your initiatives: Balance the city’s needs with overall project complexity and identify easy to implement initiatives with valuable returns.
  3. Asses constituent needs: Decide if a new function should be applied to an existing process or if there must be a complete revamp or new implementation process.
  4. Define your cloud strategy: Choose the cloud strategy that works best for you, whether it is an on-site server, and off-site server or a combination of the two.
  5. Extend your investments: Identify your assets and determine how you can better use those investments.
  6. Set the roadmap: Establish the best path forward to meet agency objectives and balance cost and effectiveness of new programs along the way.
  7. Be agile and move quickly: Explore opportunities to use incremental development and commercially available products rather than complex, time consuming projects.

As an implementer of modernization efforts, Pauesick gave Cornfield’s presentation context by explaining how KCBPU has modernized their department. He explained that KCBPU started their transformation in 2004 with PeopleSoft ERP systems. However, as time went on demand for smarter systems, upgrades, and patches to the implemented system increased.

“We were at a fork in the road,” Pauesick explained. “But ultimately, we chose the cloud route because doing so really made dollars and sense.” He emphasized that just because KCBPU is over 150 years old does not mean that their IT process have to match the age of the company. Pauesick concluded, “we can re-envision and drive change in how we operate and we will continue to do that as new technology emerges.”


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