5 Technology Trends Your Agency’s IT Modernization Plan May Be Overlooking

Liz Alton

The latest headlines are full of IT modernization news: the draft House appropriations bill designated $35 million for the Technology Modernization Fund, the Veteran’s Administration is piloting digital reskilling efforts, and there was the recent launch of the Federal Cyber Reskilling Academy. With all of that going on, it’s clear today’s agency leaders are under pressure to modernize every aspect of their digital footprint. But, while federal technology circles have been buzzing about major moves to the cloud and the implications for data center technology, there’s another layer to consider. Is your office technology modernization plan ready for the next stage of digitization?

The Role of Hardware

Modernization has major implications for the way the entire federal IT system is designed—and that boils down to its software solutions, cloud storage, and networking devices. Modernization plans will also impact the hardware your employees use to do their work. Some areas agencies need to consider in their digital transformation plans include:

  • Computers: Are the desktops and notebook computers available to your teams running the latest operating systems? Do they have the computing power needed to accommodate new systems?
  • Tablets: Do you have the hardware—such as secure, compliant tablets and smartphones—needed to deliver a modernized mobility solution for your agency users?
  • Printers: What role do peripherals—such as printers—have in a modernized public sector office? This is particularly crucial considering the security mandates included in modernization plans.

Modernization and Changing Procurement

With increased pressure to modernize IT infrastructure and move more workloads to the cloud, there has been a shift in the way the government thinks about procurement. Agencies are innovating and looking for agile ways to meet their needs, within the guidelines of high-level procurement mandates. 

GovWin market analysis notes, across agencies, there are a number of different trends at play. Agencies are leveraging new contracting methods to speed up their ability to access commercial resources, and some organizations are even using AI and blockchain to support efficient procurement. In addition, agencies are considering the implications of cyber security mandates and administration-level category management to further streamline efficient procurement. For buyers looking at the key trends, a few important areas are emerging.

Security Drives a Shift to Windows 10

Increasingly, cyber security threats are being perpetrated by criminals who leverage weaknesses in applications. As a result, using the latest version of an application—and especially an operating system—provides the necessary protections and assurances that the latest patches fix identified issues. Microsoft has announced support for Windows 7 will cease in 2020. As that date rapidly approaches, agencies that are still using legacy systems—such as Windows 7—must prioritize a Windows 10 migration.

Office Infrastructure Expands Beyond Desktops

Modernizing IT infrastructure also means modernizing office infrastructure. Increasingly, public sector agencies are exploring the latest trends in notebooks, tablets, and ultra-portables to better support their employees’ needs. When the Navy announced plans to replace more than 400,000 end-user devices, for example, the Federal News Network reported the RFQ included everything “from laptops to desktops to tablets to 2-in-1 detachables to ultra-small desktops to thin or zero client devices.” For leaders contemplating their future needs, it’s important to consider how these different category types can help your organization thrive.

New Technologies Improve Mobile Access

Deloitte notes that a number of emerging technologies, such as edge computing and the potential of 5G, will improve the connectivity of field-deployed employees. As a result, future hardware purchases—including smartphones and tablets—will support your agency’s mobile productivity. The company’s analysts note, “Field-deployed personnel will soon have greater bandwidth on their mobile devices than they have at their desks today.” Preparing for that reality through your hardware acquisition planning now lays the foundation for future adaptations.

Training Gets a Spotlight

As new technologies change the way the government operates, it’s important that workers keep pace. That’s especially true as new hardware and software trends are introduced into the office and immediate work environments. One survey of over 300 government leaders revealed that just 28% were confident their agencies are preparing employees for the future of government IT. However, emerging technologies provide the support needed to optimize that training. For example, a tablet-based training solution might help agency employees prepare for disaster scenarios or acquire new skills, according to  Deloitte.

In-Office Hardware for Public-Facing Agencies

Does your organization work directly with the public, or interface with stakeholders outside your agency? If so, additional hardware may be required. For example, tablets and digital signage can help improve the experience of guests visiting physical locations. As workloads transition to the cloud, increased automation may increase technology interfaces. For instance, low-grade automation at DMVs could mean users process basic transactions on a touchscreen rather than interacting with employees. These forthcoming process changes have implications for touchscreen computers, tablets, and other emerging technologies.

Agency leaders are working hard to comply with a variety of modernization mandates. As you’re moving key workloads to the cloud and thinking about how to upgrade your data center, don’t overlook the technology located in your offices. From new devices that your employees need to work efficiently, to plugging security holes with a move to the latest operating systems, investing in employee-facing upgrades will pay dividends in the long term.

Liz Alton is a B2B technology and digital marketing writer and content strategist. She has worked with a variety of brands including Google, Twitter, Adobe, Oracle, and HP, and written for publications including Forbes. She is a regular contributor to Connected, Connection’s official blog.