When it comes to adopting new technology in government offices, lack of training is the biggest barrier, according to a Meritalk survey of government employees sponsored by Google (registration required).
Solution providers may position themselves well to target this vast segment by focusing on technologies that are centralized, are easy to use, or come with training sessions. Like their private-sector counterparts, public-sector technological tools run the gamut from social networking and videoconferencing applications to email and tablets.
Forty-two percent of the survey respondents cited training as one of the top three roadblocks to adoption. Forty percent said price was a main hurdle, and 29 percent said the features and functions of the new technology weren’t attractive enough to merit a change. In addition, 28 percent said security was a major worry in picking an office tool. By comparison, when asked about tools for their personal use, a whopping 75 percent of respondents said price was a primary consideration. Thirty-eight percent cited security, 32 percent cited a lack of new features and functions, and only 10 percent cited lack of training.
Does that mean agency applications are more complicated than personal solutions? Apparently so. And that makes sense, since typically work-associated solutions involve capabilities such as collaboration, network security, version control, tracking and governance, and auditing.
Government IT budgets are being constrained, but not all federal department IT budgets are being cut. In fact, budgets are growing at places like the Veterans Affairs and Treasury departments, Federal Computer Week (FCW) reported this week. The report cited some projected figures from Deltek for the federal discretionary budget: $1.04 trillion in 2013, $1.06 trillion in 2014, and $1.23 trillion in 2021.
As agencies adopt virtualization, cloud computing, telecommuting, and bring your own device policies and turn to big-data and analytics, they must purchase and implement some technologies to reap the long-term benefits. Government departments also need new collaborative applications that allow widely dispersed groups to work together effectively and productively and eliminate unnecessary, time-consuming processes -- that infamous government red tape.
A 2007 report from EMC (this site's sponsor) found that consolidating networks and datacenters was the top priority for most government CIOs. The federal government is funding cross-industry initiatives to promote collaboration and communication, EMC said. Agencies are extremely aware of the critical importance of creating disaster recovery programs, and they are investigating ways of sharing services and capabilities (such as datacenters) or splitting the costs of a major purchase, according to the report.
In addition, agencies want to get more citizen-friendly through interactive Websites, live chat support, and other private-sector staples. This adds up to opportunities for SMB solution providers, especially those with expertise in particular vertical or horizontal markets. Virtualization, the cloud, collaboration, videoconferencing, telecommuting, big-data -- these are the types of solutions in which government agencies will be investing.
As Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., told FCW:
I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. I think there are some real opportunities here. Heretofore, technology has been a tool in government to make us a little more effective and a little more efficient. Where we’re headed is… for technology to be transformative, not a marginal or incremental improvement.