This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Your Roadmap to IT Modernization.“
Technology has changed and will continue to change the way government reaches out and communicates with citizens. Gone are the days when faxing forms to a central government office was the norm. In today’s application economy – a connected, mobile application-based world enabled through software – citizens want quick and reliable services at their fingertips, on any device they choose.
In order to better understand how agencies can thrive in this software-driven environment, GovLoop sat down with Jeremy Rissi, Senior Director of Digital Transformation Solution Sales at CA Technologies, a company that provides software to modernize and secure applications.
“Citizens expect immediacy and they expect better efficiency from government services, whether that’s applying for a permit, paying taxes, or registering a business,” Rissi explained.
As a result, the public sector is leveraging application programming interfaces, or APIs, to build applications that allow them to deliver the services citizens expect in a quick, reliable, and secure manner. An API is an interface that lets one software program “talk” to another one, exchanging data behind the scenes. Using APIs agencies can link previously siloed legacy systems, eliminate boundaries between departments, improve internal processes, and most importantly provide a more efficient way of building new services.
“Users don’t care about IT systems, about software applications, or about where data resides. They care about the things they want to accomplish; the tasks they expect to get done. Agencies must use APIs to separate functions and capabilities from the applications and the data sources” said Rissi.
As agencies increasingly rely on APIs to deliver citizen-centric experiences, they will need a means to efficiently create and manage these APIs. API management tools allow agencies to realize the benefits of APIs while mitigating the inherent security risk that come with opening up the enterprise.
First, API management tools speed up application development which according to Rissi is a challenge for the public sector. “Slow application development is a huge obstacle. Many agencies are taking anywhere from one year to 18 months to create applications. In today’s application economy, agencies have to be more agile, and show iteration month after month,” said Rissi. API management tools simplify development and allows for seamless integration. When developers want to build a new service, they don’t have to start from scratch. API management tools allow services and components to be reused which in turn cuts the time it takes agencies to deploy new services to citizens.
API management tools also help make the capabilities of an agency more accessible to developers and constituents alike. When asked about how CA Technologies addresses this challenge, Rissi said, “At CA, accessibility is achieved by helping our clients make systems themselves less complex and by taking advantage of the application economy.” CA Technologies’ management tools provide catalogs of available APIs as well as instructions. This in turn makes systems easier to maintain, allows internal developers to access agency systems and innovate around their APIs, and makes agency services more available to citizens.
Most importantly, API management tools help agencies to eliminate data and security risks and Rissi assured that CA Technologies’ tools and services have security built into it. “When we talk about security, we are talking about authorization, authentication, and access,” he explained. Thinking through these security paradigms as agencies build out new systems allows them to integrate security into the IT maturity model and IT department as a whole. An API management tool can secure and control access from a single interface allowing agencies to protect its data without sacrificing user convenience.
In addition to providing the tools agencies need to modernize their IT infrastructure, CA Technologies and Three Wire Systems, an application development systems integrator and trusted CA partner, also provides expertise to agencies on their modernization journey. “Agencies need to think about what services they provide to their constituents, how they want to deliver those services, and the ecosystem of capability that makes this possible,” Rissi said. Three Wire Systems works with agencies to clearly define what they want to achieve and who the stakeholders in the delivery will be to make sure agencies set clear objectives for their IT modernization projects from the start.
Looking forward, government can benefit from the continued growth of the application economy by collaborating with private sector partners, like CA Technologies and Three Wire Systems, to integrate their IT infrastructure and efficiently develop and manage their applications. By leveraging solutions that help unlock the value of data, accelerate development, and reduce data and security risk, agencies will be able to better drive their mission and thrive in today’s application economy.