Short on time? Read the key takeaways
- The cloud reduces licensing, hardware, labor and maintenance costs and increases productivity.
- The cloud offers extensive security advantages, including reducing the attack surface for security experts to protect.
- Cloud services provide opportunities to support employees productively and securely.
- A shift to the cloud allows agencies to focus on citizens better, relieving frustration and increasing satisfaction.
In recent years, the cloud has emerged as a game-changer, providing secure and effective solutions for organizations.
As we step into the future, it’s crucial for public sector CIOs and IT teams to reimagine their technological strategies and tap into the immense potential of cloud-based services.
In fact, the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) ranked cloud services as the sixth most important priority for CIOs in 2023, underscoring cloud technology as a valuable tool for organizations. Cloud-based services offer four distinct benefits to address the needs of public sector organizations.
1. Cost containment
Managing costs is a constant obligation for government CIOs. Given the economic uncertainty ahead, agencies will likely face diminishing budgets and have to do more with less. The Wall Street Journal reported that states could see a $434 billion shortfall, per Moody’s Analytics.
On top of that, states will continue to deal with new mandates, sometimes funded and often unfunded. Regardless, they must execute their planned strategies along with the mandates.
While investing in cloud infrastructure and services is substantial, the returns can be worth it. Cloud reduces the costs of licensing, hardware, labor and maintenance while raising productivity. In addition, software, compliance and specialized skills are all provided by the vendor.
The public sector’s focus on cybersecurity has continued to increase since the onset of the pandemic. The sudden transition to remote work created new vulnerabilities, as the home office became yet another target for hackers. Per Comparitech, U.S. government organizations experienced 330 separate ransomware attacks between 2018 and 2022, costing an estimated $70 billion in downtime.
Despite significant improvements in the public sector, security remains an ever-present priority for several reasons: the ongoing prevalence of remote workers as potentially vulnerable targets, the shortage of cybersecurity skills in the face of enormous demand, and the increased prevalence of IoT devices because of 5G.
Yet, according to NASCIO, the cybersecurity budget in most US states is inadequate, with most states only allocating a mere 2% to 10% of their IT budgets. Comparatively, the federal government consistently designates an average of over 10% to cybersecurity.
Fortunately, cloud offers extensive security advantages, including integrating security and compliance, reducing the attack surface the organization’s security experts need to protect, and leveraging enormous storage and processing power to identify security threats.
3. Worker support
Finding highly skilled tech workers is an ongoing challenge for government agencies. Many organizations are shorthanded and overload their employees, leading to burnout and attrition. Furthermore, research has shown that top workers will leave if the digital workplace experience is suboptimal.
For the government to effectively serve taxpayers, it must support its workforce, which is increasingly becoming digital. Before the pandemic, less than 10% of staff worked remotely. After its onset, more than half of workers, on average, were remote in most states, while a handful of other states saw almost all their workers remote and thus had constrained access to regular support.
A report from the Louisiana legislative auditor’s office identified its four main difficulties to be:
- A lack of established telework policies
- Insufficient accommodation for non-essential employees whose work could not be done remotely
- Numerous technology challenges reported by 83.6% of the state’s agency leaders and 47.2% of its employees
- Insufficient guidance for supervisors to manage remote teams
Cloud services provide the opportunity to support all employees, both in the office and remotely, in a productive and secure way, ultimately increasing employee productivity and retention.
4. Citizen satisfaction
Citizen expectations for the digital experience are constantly rising. Delivering a great user experience is no longer a luxury – it’s a requirement. Citizens expect interactions with government agencies to have the same ease as modern companies like Netflix.
Not surprisingly, they are frequently disappointed because cost pressures and skill shortages constrain governments from investing in improvements. But make no mistake, those who can deliver a better citizen experience will have a demonstrable competitive advantage when recruiting employees and businesses.
A shift to the cloud allows agencies to focus on citizens, increasing their satisfaction through cost-effective and secure solutions. As technology advances, cybersecurity measures must keep pace. Government agencies must focus on new and effective ways of fulfilling their missions securely, and leveraging cloud services can be instrumental in this pursuit.