Can cloud computing save the public sector? A new report from Deloitte suggests that it might be able to help … eventually. But only if tech shops move to the cloud in a mission-driven way and focus on building a platform governance framework first.
Government at all levels has been moving aggressively to adopt cloud computing with the hope that it would help cut costs and increase efficiencies while avoiding some of the challenges common to on-premises solutions. But implementation has been uneven at best, and now CIO’s are rethinking cloud. “Nearly 40 percent of all surveyed organizations with public cloud experience have moved public cloud workloads back on premises, half (50 percent) of CIOs believe cloud is only partly delivering on the promised benefits, and 16 percent think cloud “barely” delivers or does not deliver at all,” Jon Taillon and Doug Bourgeois of Deloitte write in their new report, “Cloudburst: How cloud can enable future innovation for government.”
The problem, the authors argue, is that many cloud implementations have been done with unclear end goals in mind. Agencies and offices moved to cloud with the hope of cutting costs and improving user experience, but teams failed to think through what that would look like in practice. Closing data centers and moving legacy systems out of regular use did cut costs, but not to the level many were expecting. In other cases, even though a significant amount of data was moved to the cloud, agencies failed to create systems that ultimately improved information sharing, which meant limited improvements to workflows and processes.
In order for tech shops to move forward, CIOs have to rethink how cloud can work for their organizations. Rather than trying to move toward the nebulous goals of cost and time savings, agencies and departments need to set clear and specific goals that the cloud would be useful for. But that’s only a starting point. From there, organizations also need to work through a change management plan before they start migrating processes to the cloud.
“Realizing the full value of cloud will almost certainly require changes to how an organization operates. As an analogy, imagine putting a powerful new racing engine into an old Model T. Sure, it would be important to choose a new engine and connect it properly. But to take advantage of the car’s newfound power would require changing the steering and suspension as well. And if the car were to be operated safely, it would need better brakes— not to mention a driver with a different set of skills,” Taillon and Bourgeois write.
By creating specificity around cloud deployments, organizations will be able to realize better outcomes. This level of planning can also help to position agencies and departments so that they are able to participate in future cloud-enabled innovations, without having to rework their platforms yet again.
By putting a platform governance framework in place that has specific goals, public sector organizations can also create an innovation ecosystem where tech shops feel empowered to build on solutions because the mission is clear. Clarity can also help as CIOs work through how best to improve data sharing across government, supporting workers in their efforts to derive new insights about government service by having access to information that wasn’t previously available.
The full report is available here.