Government organizations are facing a technological crisis. Core Legacy systems are inflexible and unable to keep up with rising demands. And citizens are increasingly expecting a similar level of experience and service from government organizations to what they receive from commercial ones. It’s time to meet the challenge of disruption and changing expectations head-on and re-invent the core.
Changing core technology is hard. Technically, it’s challenging to pull apart systems that have grown in complexity over many years. There are significant challenges in reinventing organizations that are invested in maintaining the status quo. During the past five years or so, much of the work focused on digital user interfaces for existing core systems. However, sustaining the current core could become a potential technological nightmare. Updating the core is now critical as the constraints imposed by existing systems are holding organizations back from creating new opportunities. Technical debt is real and needs focus and attention from Public Service Technology Leaders.
By 2020, enterprises that continue to invest in heavily customized, traditional, monolithic ERP solutions will be 75% less effective in supporting digital business strategies – Gartner, Government CIOs Should Consider Postmodern ERP to Modernize Legacy Business Applications
Disruption is inevitable at this point and can quickly undermine business operations. Organizations that hold back and approach system modernization with a “keep the lights on” philosophy lose their appeal to customers and citizens. We all have seen this happen in the travel, tax, accommodation and banking industries, and governments are by no means immune. Governments compete on a global, regional and local playing field for talent, investment, and industry. Those able to respond to change will be more attractive, and therefore, successful.
While modernizing core technology is hard, it’s not impossible. The scale, risk, and complexity of change needs care and commitment over multiple years. Organizations must focus on becoming agile—able to change both their systems and their organization’s structures and processes to adapt to future challenges. They also require a strong vision, informed by technology innovation, industry insights and leading practices, that embraces openness, collaboration, and flexibility.
While it may appear attractive to chase short-term solutions or alternatively embark on multi-year core transformation programs, both can be unappealing or even disastrous. Long-term visionary thinking with the belief that agility will lead to growth opportunities and evolve the organization amid disruption will future-proof it. In my next blog, I’ll share our new approach, Continuous Transformation, which can help government organizations find a middle ground between a keep the lights on (do-nothing) strategy and complete systems replacement. In the meantime, please follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.