As we ring in the new year, IT leaders in the state government can expect the usual challenges related to budgets, procurement and an aging technology infrastructure. But I expect 2016 also to be a year of advancement in key areas such as service agreements, cloud solutions and an enterprise approach. I also expect to see an increase in the speed of IT deployment along with higher expectations for vendors.  Here are the predictions I have for technologies gaining momentum this year.

Prediction: Shared services will gain traction in 2016 as a core strategy for state agencies to modernize and achieve cost savings.

Shared services have been around for years, including notable successes such as AZNet and the state Web Portal. Off the heels of a recent technology assessment, the State CIO’s Office is committed to develop a new best-in-class service model – either through state-provided services, or more likely in the form of outsourced services. With a sensible foundation in place to offer these top tier services and a focus on building agency partnerships, I believe agencies will be compelled to take advantage of the new shared service offerings.

Prediction: Cloud solutions will become the norm.

If you have spent time with the new State CIO Morgan Reed, then you have heard him talk about his “Cloud First Strategy.” Quick to say that he no longer wants to be in the mainframe or data center business, we have yet to see any details of the new strategy. All we know is that the state will explore cloud offerings as a standard practice for all new technology initiatives. The key will be the ability to access and retrieve data once it is in the cloud.

Prediction: State agencies will increase the emphasis on enterprise solutions to standardize and economize.

For some time now, it has been clear that the traditional point solution mentality only increases siloes and disparate technology solutions in a federated agency model.

While we have talked a lot about an enterprise approach to technology, this year the pressure will be on to make meaningful progress. State CIO Reed has stated: “If it’s not enterprise, my office will look elsewhere.” And, he means what he says – recently instructing staff to reevaluate a software tool that was unable to scale to over 35,000 state employees. “Small problems and small solutions are not the direction anymore – solutions must be able to scale.”

This also means that standardization may become more common. As the state invests in scalable solutions, the ability to consolidate with fewer technology tools will be more likely. And, the need for enterprise licenses will become more attractive.

Prediction: Incremental improvement is not good enough – Speed and transformation are the goals.

If you’ve been following the efforts of the Ducey administration, you likely have heard the phrase: “Move at the speed of business.” This is true for technology too. Say goodbye to the days of taking years to conduct detailed technology assessments. This year, you will see the state accelerate its evaluation of the “talent, tools and technology” needed to make state operations more efficient.

And, this means a renewed interest in agile development and incremental delivery contracts. Agencies already have begun to move away from the classic waterfall methodology and I predict this will be a big push next year – especially given the State CIO’s statutory oversight of large agency technology projects.

Prediction: Vendors will be held to higher standards for adding real value.

In 2016, vendors better plan to be held to high expectations for solving problems and adding value. If you read my previous blog about ADOA Director Brown’s vision for procurement, then this should not come as any surprise. In particular, technology companies should be prepared to offer solutions to specific problems and quantify the value of their offerings. State CIO Reed has made it very clear that there should be, “no more roadmaps and catalogs.” The state wants to invest in the highest performing solutions, but only after it’s convinced that the company behind the technology can add real value.

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