Wednesday, 26 April 2017 22:37

Governments lag in spending on digital: survey

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Organisations in the private and public sectors spend a greater proportion of their IT budgets on digital initiatives than governments, according to a global survey.

The survey by Gartner also reveals that top-performing organisations anticipate spending 43% of their IT budgets on digitalisation, compared with 28% by their government counterparts – and that 33% of private/public organisations spend more on digitalisation while just 21% of governments spend on that area.

The survey includes the views of 2598 chief information officers from 93 countries, representing US$9.4 trillion in revenue or public sector budgets and UUUS$292 billion in IT spending, including 377 government CIOs in 38 countries.

According to Rick Howard, research vice-president at Gartner, 2016 proved to be a watershed year in which frustration with the status quo of government was widely expressed by citizens at the voting booth and in the streets, accompanied by low levels of confidence and trust about the performance of public institutions.

[loadposition peter}"This has to be addressed head on. Government CIOs in 2017 have an urgent obligation to look beyond their own organisations and benchmark themselves against top-performing peers within the public sector and from other service industries. They must commit to pursuing actions that result in immediate and measurable improvements that citizens recognise and appreciate."

The survey reveals that government CIOs as a group anticipate a 1.4% average increase in their IT budgets, compared with an average 2.2% increase across all industries.

But, local government CIOs fare better, averaging 3.5% growth, which is still more than 1% less on average than IT budget growth among top-performing organisations overall at 4.6%.

Gartner says the data is directionally consistent with its benchmark analytics that indicate average IT spending for state and local governments in 2016 represented 4% of operating expenses, up from 3.6% in 2015.

And for national and international government organisations, average IT spending as a percentage of operating expenses in 2016 was 9.4%, up from 8.6% in 2015.

"Whatever the financial outlook may be, government CIOs who aspire to join the group of top performers must justify growth in the IT budget by clearly connecting all investments to lowering the business costs of government and improving the performance of government programmes," Howard said.

Looking beyond 2017, Gartner asked respondents to identify technologies with the most potential to change their organisations over the next five years.

Advanced analytics takes the top spot across all levels of government (79%) while digital security remains a critical investment (57%), particularly in defence and intelligence (74%).

According to Gartner, the Internet of Things will clearly drive transformative change for local governments (68%), whereas interest in business algorithms is highest among national governments (41%). All levels of government presently see less opportunity in machine learning or blockchain.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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