Gartner sets out roadmap for government IT

As drastic shifts in power continue to take place with the evolution of technology trends such as mobile working, cloud computing, collaboration and data analytics, the role of the CIO in government organisations is increasingly coming under pressure.

Analyst firm Gartner predicts in its latest report, ‘Beyond the Government CIO: Chief Data or Digital Officers’ that in order to spread the digital responsibility, roles such as chief digital officer and chief data officer will become common in government, coexisting beside more traditional roles such as CIO and CTO.

More than 10% of government organisations will have appointed a chief data officer and over 20% will have appointed a chief digital officer by next year, Gartner estimates.

‘Digital government strategies issued in several jurisdictions during the past 12 months, as well as the continued momentum of open government, are bringing new leadership roles to the fore,’ said Andrea DiMaio, managing vice president at Gartner.

‘In government, as well as other industries, roles like chief data officer or chief digital officer are emerging in response to the increasing importance of enterprise digital assets.’

One of the main drivers for establishing the position of chief data officer is the existence of public sector open data strategies.

But while the establishment of such roles is often a reaction to traditionally narrow or inward-focused responsibilities of the CIO, Gartner expects the roles to be much more closely related and integrated in the future.

See also: Liam Maxwell becomes first ever government CTO

DiMaio advises that in order to thrive and coexist in this new environment, government CIOs establish close working relationships with those in newly introduced digital c-suite roles, and identify areas where they can add value to a different role’s responsibility.

‘They should also push for a clear demarcation between their role and the roles of others with regard to information by defining clear principles about ownership, purpose and use,’ said DiMaio.

In the long term, overlapping roles and lack of clear distinction over responsibilities will cause a huge shakeup. Gartner believes that many of them will become irrelevant or merged under a different role, predicting that the chief data officer will be the most vulnerable.

The analyst estimates that by 2016, over 90% of chief data officer positions will be subsumed by the CIO.

‘The blurring distinction between chief digital officer and CIO, caused by the need to balance constituent value creation and operation efficiency, will lead one of them to be replaced by or start reporting to the other,’ said DiMaio.

He recommends tha CIOs assess whether they take over al or soe of ther responsibilities of other roles and build a roadmap to do so.

It is also important that they start to position the discussion on open data around the broader role that open data can play when applied to private enterprise data, demonstrating quantifiable value.

See also: Local government needs to make better use of big data

The friction between the CIO and chief digital officer will also become more evident, as business unit leaders begin to get a far better grasp on the value and role of digital information, taking responsibility for striking the balance between internal and external.

By 2017, says Gartner, over 60% of government organisations with a CIO and a chief digital officer will eliminate one of those roles.

‘The chief digital officer and the CIO will become information custodians, providers and — most of all — advisors,’ said DiMaio.

‘However, it will be up to the business to determine how to strategically use which information. In such a situation there is little reason for keeping two separate roles.’

In the future, CIOs will have to establish stronger roles for themselves in open data management, data quality, external demand management and digital constituent service provision.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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