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In recent years, the public sector has undergone a change of unprecedented scale and speed as it has adapted to new hybrid working practices. However, there is still a sizable gap between the relatively seamless digital experience people have come to expect from the private sector, and the digital experience people encounter in the public sector.

This is a gap that governments across the world, and the Australian government in particular, are looking to close as quickly as possible. And it’s driving the next wave of government technology trends that we’re seeing across the public sector.

According to the latest forecast by analyst firm Gartner, government IT spending in Australia is forecast to exceed $15.5 billion in 2022, an increase of 8.8% from 2021.

“Government technology spend in Australia is expected to continue upward for the next few years driven by key programs to progress the digital economy, strengthen national cyber response, adopt emerging technologies and address gaps in regulation to cover technology,” Gartner vice president of executive programs Brian Ferreira said.

Many of these investments will look to improve customer experience, an area which has become increasingly important in both the private and public sectors in recent years. Shaun Shailendra, Huon IT’s general manager of client services, says, “Government agencies are striving to optimise customer experience across their service offerings by leveraging integrated IT services and automation. With affordable, secure technology solutions and support services, governments can minimise follow-ups, ensure high-quality and efficient services, and reap the benefits of more cost-effective operating models - thereby enhancing the overall experience of its citizens.”

So what technologies will government agencies be prioritising in 2022? Here are 6 government technology trends to look out for.

Government technology trend no. 1: Adaptive security architecture

Increasing supply chain attacks, the rapid shift to the cloud and the adoption of widespread remote working practices have made it clear that cybersecurity is more important than ever. And as cyberattacks grow in sophistication, so too must the government’s cybersecurity defences. This is why the Australian federal government plans to invest $1.35 billion in cybersecurity over the next decade.

One trend we expect to see in the coming year is a shift to adaptive security architecture, which uses a continuous monitoring and analysis approach to detect vulnerabilities, identify potential threats and improve systems before an incident occurs. This approach treats risk, trust and security as an adaptive process that anticipates and mitigates constantly evolving cyber threats and forgoes traditional notions of a secure perimeter - a necessary conceptual shift given the migration to cloud services. 

Government technology trend no. 2: XaaS (anything as a service)

An alternative to legacy infrastructure modernisation, XaaS, or ‘anything as a service’, is a cloud-only sourcing strategy, where the full range of business and IT services are acquired on a subscription basis. An XaaS approach has many advantages, including vastly reducing the time it takes for governments to deliver digital services, providing scalability and reducing costs. Government agencies, for example, may consider implementing a managed print service (MPS) to optimise their print environment for maximum productivity.

This trend is expected to be very popular in the coming years, with Gartner predicting that 95% of new IT investments made by government agencies will be an XaaS solution by 2025. However, there will likely still be some resistance to change. Government agencies have stringent information security and privacy guidelines that they must meet, which they have traditionally done so through maintaining data in a physical location, such as on-premise infrastructure. Cloud-based platforms come with different security risks that will need to be considered in full to ensure that these guidelines can still be met before they are adopted. Consequently, many agencies may start with hybrid solutions rather than immediately switching fully to the cloud.

Government technology trend no. 3: Digital government infrastructure and services

There have been many recent advancements in the space of digital government infrastructure and services, from telehealth to telework and virtual courts to virtual education. These innovations have underscored digital government’s most compelling features: its ability to serve efficiently, scale cheaply and adapt quickly.

One example of digital government we expect to see make significant progress in 2022 and beyond is digital identity - the ability to prove an individual’s identity via any government online channel that is available to citizens. While there are already strides being made in this area, such as the NSW digital driver’s licence, Gartner predicts that a true global, portable and decentralised identity standard that addresses business, personal, social and societal, and identity-invisible use cases will emerge in the market by 2024.

Another area that will see further development is the integration of multiple online services into a single portal. Users are increasingly expecting a ‘one-stop shop’ for all their government services rather than having multiple accounts and logins for different departments and agencies. Platforms that link these services, such as MyGov and ServiceNSW, will continue to grow and integrate new functionality that makes it easier for citizens to engage with government agencies.

Government technology trend no. 4: Composable design principles

Composable design means to create systems and services using interchangeable, modular building blocks, allowing governments to rearrange and reorient as needed depending on changing regulatory, legislative and public expectations. This enables agencies to be much more agile than their previous siloed approach allowed, and also enables them to easily reuse capabilities.

Gartner predicts that 50% of technology companies that provide products and services to the government will offer packaged business capabilities to support composable applications by 2023.

Government technology trend no. 5: Improved data sharing

Data sharing was once ad hoc in governments, but increasingly, the public sector has been leveraging data to respond to new challenges and support the drive toward composable design in government service delivery. This has underscored the value of data sharing, a trend that was already underway, but is quickly gaining pace.

We expect to see more government agencies:

  • Establishing specialised data portals to share data with other agencies, community groups and industries.
  • Adopting FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) principles to ensure public data can be accessed efficiently.
  • Creating frameworks that standardise data to allow for greater interoperability.
  • Redesigning data governance to redefine the parameters of data ownership and quality standards, as well as strengthen data protection.

Gartner predicts that by 2023, 50% of government organisations will establish formal accountability structures for data sharing, including standards for data structure, quality and timeliness.

Government technology trend no. 6: Operationalised analytics

As well as greater access to data from other sources, governments also have greater access to real-time data, which, combined with historical data, vastly improves their ability to make tactical decisions efficiently and effectively. But dealing with such huge swathes of data is a challenge that governments have to overcome in order to utilise this data properly.

That is why we expect to see the rise of operational analytics - the strategic and systematic adoption of data-driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and advanced analytics, at each stage of government activity. This will allow governments to access evidence from the past and monitor real-time information to make highly informed decisions quickly. It will also allow them to build foresight by applying predictive analytics and conducting simulation exercises, so they can anticipate events before they occur and implement preventative measures.

Gartner predicts that by 2024, 60% of government AI and data analytics investments will directly impact real-time operational decisions and outcomes.

The future of government

Thanks to the giant technological leaps taken over the past two years, citizens now expect a digital experience that is personalised, frictionless and anticipatory. With these government technology trends continuing apace, we expect to see digital experiences in the public sector progress by leaps and bounds over the coming years.

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