Voices from Accenture Public Service

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A multi-speed IT approach lets organizations modernize citizen experiences while maintaining core systems.

Digital disruption and shifting citizen expectations are changing the role of IT in today’s fast-paced environment. In California, I’m seeing today’s public sector organizations clamoring for rapid, breakthrough innovation. But CIOs working in city, county and state government must perform a balancing act. They need to maintain complex trusted systems, comply with regulations and manage cyber risk, but also satisfy heightened citizen and worker expectations. 

In my experience, a multi-speed IT approach delivers a balance between stability and agility—change at the appropriate pace for each area of the organization. It enables CIOs to keep core systems up and running while they reduce complexity and modernize, and experiment with the user experience. 

For government CIOs, I see the key challenges being: 

  • Recognizing that current operating models make it difficult to achieve strategic business imperatives. 
  • Communicating the message that one size and speed doesn’t fit all. 
  • Evolving the organization’s culture around change. 
  • Shifting expectations and mindset about the advantages of new technologies. 

It’s not a question of trying to make the organization completely agile or pushing everything to the cloud, but about applying agility and speed where it makes the most sense. 

In other sectors, organizations are using multi-speed IT to accelerate changes to customer and partner experiences while preserving the stability of core applications and interfaces. To customers, upgrades and improvements appear to happen frequently, as they expect, but the pace of change behind the scenes tends to be more measured and deliberate. In a similar fashion, governments should use a multi-speed approach to streamline the user experience to meet citizen and worker expectations. Accenture research shows that 76 percent of US citizens see it as important or very important that government CIOs and technology leaders be innovative in delivering citizen services. 

I recommend three steps for CIOs who recognize the business need for multi-speed IT: 

  1. Employ multiple governance and methods. Governance needs to support agile, iterative and waterfall methods to develop faster changing user experiences built on trusted core systems. 
  2. Rethink architecture needs. Simplify the legacy architecture for greater agility and to reduce cost pressures. Build in an API layer to expose core data to digital channels and ecosystem partners. 
  3. Invent the new IT organization. Teams should be skilled in new methods like iterfall (a mix of waterfall and iterative development) and agile, and in new tools and techniques like DevOps and APIs. 

Technology disruption can be daunting. Change is happening so fast and on such a large scale, it can seem impossible to keep up. But multi-speed IT lets CIOs harness the right speed for the right business area—enhancing their IT organization’s ability to safely maintain core systems while also meeting citizens’ ever-increasing expectations. 

If you’d like to discuss using multi-speed IT at your organization, feel free to reach out to me directly. Or follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter to keep up to date with our latest thinking. 

In the meantime, discover how we help other public service leaders drive innovation and partner with public service organizations in California to meet the needs of our state’s diverse communities. 

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