The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption and modernization of technologies and digital services in the federal government as agencies realized the need for advanced capabilities to fulfill their mission. These advancements aren’t going away, and could help prepare agencies for the future.
According to Deltek’s Coronavirus Government Response Resource Center, federal agencies have spent $6.3 billion on IT goods and services in response to the pandemic. So, Accenture found five key technology trends from the past year and what they mean for agencies going forward, outlining those findings in its Accenture Federal Technology Vision 2021. The report includes lessons learned from the government’s pandemic response and the shift in the role IT departments will play.
Below are the five trends Accenture suggests agencies must address in the next three years to lead in a post-pandemic world:
Technology stacks can be customized to fit mission and business needs. Agencies can use cloud architectures to increase enterprise agility and equip the enterprise architect to adapt to the demands of evolving (or “living”) systems and new products.
Agencies can start by understanding how to weave technology and data into the organization’s DNA, and educate mission leaders on the strengths and weaknesses of the current architecture. This way, they can identify opportunities to rethink the enterprise architect.
The enterprise architect of the future will incorporate self-learning artificial intelligence and edge computing operating on a multicloud environment with third-party managed services and platforms. Ultimately, Accenture finds that strategic stacking enables agencies to adopt an architecture that evolves with the mission.
According to Accenture, AI is accelerating the emergence of digital twins in government. Digital twin technology allows agencies to model, analyze and optimize physical interactions by acting as a virtual representation of a physical object or process. This technology can help agencies experiment in real-time and operate faster.
Digital twins are also beneficial as a decision support tool because they mimic the real world with accuracy using real-world, real-time data. They also operate as mathematical models, which allow decision-makers to change variables and conduct various analyses to model outcomes. And finally, digital twins remove blind spots, identify potential points of failure and improvements, and can pinpoint early indicators of bottlenecks in performance or vulnerabilities.
Adopting digital twin technology with AI and machine learning can allow agencies to gain new insights and find solutions and outcomes with real-world models.
Technology matters are no longer confined to IT departments. “Do-it-yourself” technologies like low-code platforms, robotic process automation and customizable data analytics dashboards make capabilities accessible without highly specialized IT skills.
To take advantage of this shift, Accenture suggests agencies teach employees to think like technologists. The role of IT departments is shifting, as they no longer provision technology but also enable, collaborate and advise for technology departmentwide. This is a democratized approach to technology, and it can help agencies overcome the skills gap.
Following pandemic shutdowns and remote work mandates, agencies are adopting a hybrid work environment for the continued safety of employees and a realization that some work can be done from anywhere. Virtual workforces expand recruiting possibilities and operational efficiency, but also require agency leaders to rethink policies, IT modernization, security and training.
Accenture predicts agencies must adapt to a “bring your own environment” world, as it’s here to stay following more than a year of flexibility and remote work options. In fact, the report found 87% of federal executives agree leading organizations in their industry will start shifting from bring your own device to bring your own environment.
To keep up, agencies need to adjust workplace culture, update policies and work rules, modernize IT to meet BYOE needs (think virtual private networks, telework tools and training) and provide employees with more technical training.
From Me to We
According to the report, 75% of federal executives said their organization faced a moderate to complete supply chain disruption because of COVID-19 — but multiparty systems can provide agencies with the resources needed to manage complex supply chains.
Managing complex systems in general requires dedicated staff, verified and accurate data, IT resources and the proper budget. Multiparty systems are built on a collaborative shared data model that enables transparency and create an ecosystem approach — like blockchain and distributed ledger technology — which can offer agencies a way to reach mission outcomes without the need of unattainable resources.
And according to Accenture, multiparty systems and technology-based ecosystems are the foundation of growth and leadership. In fact, the majority of federal executives said these systems will enable their ecosystems to build stronger and adaptable operations.