The Top Reasons Agencies Modernize

Modernization is no longer an option but an imperative to meet ongoing and new mission mandates securely. Mandates and legislation like Cloud Smart and the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act have been put in place to help agencies make positive strides. But challenges still exist.

The influx of new technologies is shifting the IT environment at government agencies. To better understand the shifting paradigm and challenges agencies face with modernization, we surveyed 156 public sector IT decision-makers and staff across federal, state and local government agencies and higher education. public sector IT decision-makers and staff about their sentiments on modernization.

To get a sense of the drivers behind agencies’ decision to accelerate IT modernization initiatives, we began the survey with this question:

Describe the primary drivers for modernization in your organization.

Here’s what respondents had to say:

– Replacing aging systems 52%

– Improve delivery of mission objectives and citizen experience 48%

– Improve security posture and reduce agency risk 37%

– Control high cost of maintaining legacy systems 24%

– Improve the ROI of technology investments 24%

– Compliance with the President’s modernization agenda 17%

– Compliance with FITARA mandates 11%

– Control application sprawl of mission objectives and citizen experience 7%

– Other 7%

These responses are no surprise. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has estimated that the government spends nearly 75% of its annual information technology funding on operating and maintaining existing legacy information technology systems. Not only are older systems more vulnerable to attacks, but they are also increasingly becoming more costly and difficult to maintain.

“These legacy systems were built at a time when technology paradigms were different. Cybersecurity was not necessarily top of mind since sophisticated attack scenarios like we face today were not envisioned,” said Ashok Sankar, the director of industry product marketing with a focus on public sector and education markets at Splunk. “It is very likely the vendor does not support the product anymore and patching any vulnerabilities would be either cost-prohibitive or difficult, if not impossible.”

Another problem is that current legacy systems are relatively static, and not flexible and agile to easily integrate with modern IT systems. Additionally, these systems are very complicated to maintain since the younger generation coming in would have no idea how these older systems were built.

“Because of these complexities, organizations are finding it difficult to deliver service levels and customer experience akin to their private sector counterparts. …They are starting to see how IT modernization ultimately is necessary to realize their objectives.” – Ashok Sankar, Director of Industry Product Marketing, Splunk

This has become a significant issue for government because mandates and laws such as the Federal Customer Experience Act (FACT) and the President’s Management Agenda are now demanding agencies measure their customer experience (CX) and improve. “Agencies are starting to be held accountable for their CX for the first time,” Sankar said.

Overall, our survey found that challenges such as the complexity of IT systems, lack of visibility into workloads and migrations, and a dearth of workforce skills are primary inhibitors to modernization, and directly affect the confidence of respondents in taking steps toward and progressing on their transformation journeys.

This blog post is an excerpt from our new research brief, How Visibility Accelerates Successful IT Modernization in the Public Sector, read the full report to learn tips to overcome these challenges here.


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