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What is Government IT? The Role and Impact of Modern Technology

An illustration of two employees using government information technology.
With the right government information technology solution, you can reshape operations and service for a stable future. [Adobe | Salesforce]

How cloud-based technology and AI propel governments into the future.

People are used to 24/7, personalized service. We can pay our bills online, order our coffee from our phones, and have products delivered overnight. This has reshaped expectations, putting an onus on government organizations to match private sector services and experiences—so much so that 93% of respondents in Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) third annual Global Trust Imperative 3.0 report said they expect government quality of service to be on par with leading tech companies, the commercial sector, and government providers. 

Relying on legacy information technology (IT) systems makes it difficult for government agencies to overcome (or even address) these challenges. Inefficiency, outdated processes, and concerns around privacy and data security slow down service delivery and negatively impact constituents — and isn’t scalable for the future. 

The new normal for IT

Get insights from over 1,000 global IT leaders on AI trends and predictions, the importance of integration, and how APIs can build revenue in Mulesoft’s latest Connectivity Benchmark Report.

Findings by the Deloitte Center for Government Insights note that innovations creating value in new ways often won’t work with old business processes and that increasing time savings and reducing backlogs requires new systems and processes.

That said, modernization is more than just new technology or integrating legacy systems.  It requires a complete redesign of business processes and, more often than not, a cultural shift in thinking. However, this is hard to accomplish alone. So much so that a global digital survey of government officials found that 85% felt collaboration with external partners positively impacted their agencies. 

Engaging a technology partner in an effort to accelerate innovation can enable government agencies to more efficiently and effectively meet modern-day demands and better address the needs of the constituents they serve. We’ll cover what government IT is, the benefits, how automation and AI play a role, and how you can modernize your solution to fit your agency’s needs.  

What is government IT?

Government IT is a broad term that refers to the overall use of technology within public sector organizations. This includes everything from data centers to software — the entirety of the technological stack that’s used to power and enhance government service, operations, and communications. 

The goal behind implementing government IT solutions is to help agencies increase efficiency and security and improve data management, service delivery, and overall operations to ultimately execute their missions more effectively.  

Government IT must be secure. Regulations and the threat of cyber attacks mandate that these systems meet stringent requirements (such as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program or FedRAMP) to keep data safe.

The successful undertaking of initiatives focused on cybersecurity, IT modernization, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation will not only make our systems safer and our data more secure, it will also enable government agencies to provide better, more scalable, and more intelligent service to local, state, and federal constituents.

The benefits of government IT modernization

Government IT modernization is the strategic effort by government agencies to update and improve IT systems, infrastructure, and practices. For most (if not all) agencies, the first step toward modernization is forgoing on-premises legacy systems in exchange for cloud-based solutions.

Cloud-based government IT solutions power better experiences

Cloud-based solutions are the key to government IT modernization. Moving systems to the cloud solves many of the government’s primary challenges by streamlining processes, increasing accessibility, and making it possible to meet constituent needs efficiently and effectively. 

Cloud-based solutions deliver a multitude of other benefits, including: 

Flexibility and scalability

Constituent needs constantly change. This has a huge impact on government missions, especially during times like healthcare enrollment, when both the demand for service as well as the demand on the actual systems, is much greater. Contending with this type of increase (and later decrease) requires a level of flexibility that legacy systems don’t provide. Cloud-first solutions enable flexibility and scalability and do so with easy, no-to-low-code updates that can then be applied across the entire system. 

Aside from providing necessary scalability, these solutions also have the potential to reduce costs by eliminating the need to invest in hardware and infrastructure that may not always be needed. Using cloud-based services and solutions on an as-needed basis enables the government to more easily predict costs and better forecast budgetary needs.

Better data solutions

Today’s government agencies take in more data than ever before. However, our most recent State of Data and Analytics report found that only 49% of government respondents say they have full visibility into their data. Cloud-based solutions centralize data, making it more accessible. This means that both government workers and constituents can find the information they need when they need it, from wherever they may be. 

Unifying data also works to get government agencies’ data houses in order, enabling them to create a foundation for future innovations in AI, automation, and analytics. This is important considering government leaders report that it takes too long to get insights—and is one of the top three challenges they face

Agencies that pair centralized data with the right AI and analytics platform can not only give their employees the ability to create impactful insights, they can also provide a secure environment in which to do so. When it comes to safety, good data solutions can go a long way toward enhancing security. They can protect data from loss and enable data recovery when needed.

Collaboration and interoperability

 Public sector organizations use over 970 applications on average to support their work. Yet findings from our Mulesoft Connectivity Benchmark Report indicate that only 29% of these applications are integrated cloud-based government IT solutions. This makes it harder for these agencies to securely and easily integrate systems across departments and locations. They can put everything needed at government employees’ fingertips, helping agencies have a single, complete view of each constituent, reducing the time spent looking for information. 

A unified view also goes a long way toward improving the case management process. Without it, people can (and do) fall through the cracks. For example, a constituent receiving Medicare might need to fill out paperwork to ensure their benefits don’t lapse. Legacy systems rely on an individual agent’s ability to locate the constituent’s address, mail out paperwork, and then wait for the constituent to return it. Should the agent have the wrong address and the paperwork never make it to the constituent, there is no system to flag “we never received this.” 

Legacy systems also often do not provide a way for the constituent to access their file digitally. Many times, no one even knows anything is amiss until the individual shows up to the doctor and realizes they are no longer enrolled in Medicare. This type of ineffective engagement explains why positive responses were consistently low to questions like: 

  • Were you made to feel important (20%)? 
  • Do you feel that the government cares about your experience (18%)? 
  • Does the government respond efficiently to changing needs (27%)?

Modern government IT solutions solve these issues. Cloud-based systems can unite data to help ensure that all information (including addresses) is discoverable. And, because systems are connected, any updates automatically reflect across all systems. This helps reduce the risk of incorrect information remaining in a case file. 

Together, these capabilities can help streamline workflows and ensure accuracy. Agents can easily track cases and receive alerts when there is no response within a specified period. And because everything is digital, constituents can access their files and fill out paperwork online. This reduces errors and increases their ability to easily and effectively access the services they need. 

The ability to meet constituent needs and expectations

Government agencies face a host of challenges: adequately serving diverse constituencies, staying up to date on (and in compliance with) regulatory statutes, and efficiently completing a variety of missions daily. If they fail (or even falter) while attempting to do this, there is the very real potential to negatively impact the quality and livability of people’s lives. 

Integrating your systems can help you build and deliver experiences that better meet these expectations. They can help government agencies provide things like online portals, citizen-facing applications, and self-service tools. While only 34% of public sector user experiences are connected today, a cloud-based system’s ability to organize everyone around one single view of the constituent can enable government agents to deliver more connected, consistent, and innovative constituent experiences. 

Better, more secure government cybersecurity

As the proliferation of data and our reliance on digital systems continues to grow, the need for a robust government cybersecurity operation has become more important than ever. 

Government agencies have access to some of our most sensitive personal and financial data. This makes their ability to safeguard that data crucial to our well-being, safety, and ability to trust government institutions. Today’s on-premise legacy systems are often not adequately patched or not regularly monitored, and, as a result, they are prone to security vulnerabilities.

In contrast, cloud-based systems are consistently monitored, updated, and patched. This greatly improves security and can help constituents feel confident that the information they’re giving to the government will be protected. 

Legislation, regulations, and security needs are constantly being updated. Cloud-based government cybersecurity solutions can provide agencies with the agility they need to implement updates more easily and quickly and reflect those changes across programs, removing the need for teams to build new processes from scratch.

Enhancing government IT solutions with automation and AI

AI is recognized for its great potential to unlock productivity and performance. However, outdated IT architecture and poor data quality are two of the biggest challenges agencies face when using data for AI use cases. Stringent restrictions and regulations have also held organizations back from modernizing their technology. 

However, getting your organization’s data and systems cleaned and organized can lead to increased operational efficiency and higher workforce productivity. It will also prime your organization for AI readiness. AI capabilities can then be layered on top of these automated processes to address a broad range of needs. They can increase productivity by automatically generating personalized emails, compiling step-by-step guides, and summarizing cases, meetings, and calls. Employees can also get insights and next-best steps that might help them do things like figure out how to best route complex cases. 

AI can also help constituents in cases where they are looking to accomplish more complex tasks that require a variety of steps. For example, in the case of an individual trying to establish a business, AI can help consolidate information, processes, and documentation requirements to help them understand what needs to happen and when in order to get their business up and running. 

In the case of an individual trying to figure out whether or not they might qualify for government assistance, AI can ingest and consolidate information, run it through all regulatory requirements, and generate a “yes” or “no” answer in a matter of seconds. It can also explain why that particular decision was made. This takes the onus off both constituents and employees who may be confused by the complex equations that go along with things like rental assistance and supplemental nutrition assistance eligibility.

When it comes to government AI, this is only the beginning. As AI capabilities grow, we may see further adoption across government agencies to significantly increase service, productivity, and government efficiency.

Redefining government operations with a responsive solution 

Government agencies face more challenges, more regulation, and more fragmentation than ever before. Despite how important their missions are to people’s lives, they can also, more often than not, be farther behind when it comes to innovation and modernization. However, modernization efforts are beginning to take hold, with the majority 54% of people saying it is now easier to get help from the government online than in person. 

The journey toward a modern, responsive solution empowers agencies to navigate challenges with agility, ultimately building a government that is not just functional, but innovative, secure, and deeply attuned to the needs of the people it serves. By embracing these technologies and fostering collaboration, government entities can redefine operations, ensuring that no constituent is left behind.

Increase mission success and agency efficiency

Learn how modernizing technology can help your agency build trust and serve constituents faster and more efficiently in this free demo.

Michael Caracciolo
Michael Caracciolo Director of Product Marketing, Public Sector Solutions

Michael is a Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce, specializing in Government Cloud. In his role, he builds awareness of Salesforce's leading solutions for government. With a passion for government technology, Michael is dedicated to driving innovation and efficiency in the public sector. Before joining Salesforce, he earned his MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business and worked as a consultant for government contractors.

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