This commentary was contributed by Brian Marvin of ServiceNow.
Several appointed federal leaders have publicly indicated that IT modernization will remain a top priority for the current administration over the next four years. A study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office suggests that a majority of agencies spend upwards of 90 percent of their total IT budgets to maintain crumbling applications and infrastructure. With greater emphasis now on modernization efforts, federal agencies will need to address the challenges associated with antiquated, “legacy” systems. In addition, with a federal hiring freeze in current in effect, agency leaders will have to accomplish this multi-year goal of IT modernization with their current workforce.
Historically, the private sector has been ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting innovative technology, and companies across industries are making great strides to replace their deteriorating manual operations with highly adaptable automated systems. This digital transformation across the private sector has paid off exponentially, saving businesses time and money in addition to bolstering efficiency in the workplace. With advances in automation and machine learning, fed IT has an opportunity to achieve similar success.
Transform government workplace with intelligent automation
Intelligent automation is an approach that employs machines to do more of the work. With intelligent automation, government agencies can speed and automate the delivery of services, which in turn reduces cost, increases productivity and makes work faster. With intelligent automation, agencies can replace unstructured work patterns of the past with intelligent workflows of the future.
At home, we’ve grown accustomed to using automated technology to perform everyday tasks. Whether it’s paying bills through an app on our phones or commanding Alexa to power our smart home devices, automation is transforming the way we operate from the ground up. However, when federal employees are at work, the same level of innovation simply isn’t present — but it should be.
According to recent research, manual systems take a major toll on workforce productivity, causing the average employee to spend two out of five days on undue administrative work — that’s over 800 hours of work per year. In today’s competitive job market, every minute of work at the office counts, which means federal employees can’t afford to dedicate so much time to administrative tasks.
By leveraging intelligent automation, federal agencies are able to perform administrative tasks with the click of a button. For example, agencies can streamline work processes, such as identifying the root causes of IT issues, receive the status of work tasks, as well as categorizing, routing, and responding to incoming service requests. More intelligent automation can eliminate certain mundane tasks to help federal employees achieve greater productivity. Teams can better predict and prevent obstacles and gain insight on how to improve their day-to-day work.
Drive STEM opportunities
As the deployment of automated systems is one of the main components to ensuring a successful digital transformation, it’s imperative that the federal government has a pool of highly talented IT professionals to roll out these systems, ultimately driving the modernization effort forward.
To entice millennials and Silicon Valley executives to join the federal IT workforce, prior administrations had launched an array of training and workforce programs, which established a culture of digital acceptance and innovation.
The federal government need to continue to prioritize automated technology and STEM programs, spanning from the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program to Hack the Pentagon, as strategies to encourage and recruit top STEM talent to join the federal workforce.
Follow the PaaS path to IT modernization
As federal agencies continue to look for cost effective ways to solve common public sector challenges, they also need to consider using a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution as part of their IT modernization efforts. Using a PaaS, agencies can use a single data model to easily create contextual workflows and automate any business processes. The cost and time saved through tapping PaaS software allows agencies to rebuild their IT infrastructure and rid themselves of application backlogs and integration boundaries, which ensures a successful digital transformation.
Although the U.S. government has made gradual strides toward overhauling its IT systems, in order to successfully revitalize the federal IT landscape, agencies must place a greater emphasis on their digital transformation.
A key step to this process is replacing legacy systems with innovative, more intelligent automation. Manual IT depletes agency funds and resources, essentially prohibiting them from driving forward the federal government’s long-term IT modernization efforts. It’s time for federal agencies to adopt more modern systems.
Brian Marvin is VP of public sector for ServiceNow.