After years of incremental steps forward and an abrupt shift when the pandemic hit, 2023 provides a fresh opportunity for state, local, and educational (SLED) agencies and organizations to recast their long-term goals.
As organizations clamp down on cybersecurity threats, while bolstering their talent development and application management efforts, this year could bring sweeping changes throughout state and local government and public education.
The hard line between the public and private sectors continues to steadily shrink over the long term, offering agencies and institutions a chance to embrace the best of both worlds. That includes utilizing smarter data systems and more flexible work protocols while preserving executive and academic governance and integrity.
Today, many state and local governments are paving the way for new vital programs, including better affordable housing, K-12 tutoring services, and climate resiliency efforts under the $350 billion American Rescue Plan Act, as the Brookings Institution notes.
Meeting these goals on time and with minimal interference requires focused efforts when it comes to digital infrastructure, talent, and data resiliency across government and education.
From top-level to hyperlocal initiatives, expect to see a greater emphasis on modern cloud and other IT services as hybrid work and remote learning services become par for the course throughout the public sector.
Here are four predictions for more effective SLED strategies in the year ahead:
Cutting Costs with Multi-Cloud Adoption
As the public cloud afforded many incredible advancements and unique services, the idea that everything should move to one central database may have been overzealous. Cloud consumption costs have spiraled out of control at some agencies that could have opted for a hybrid cloud model. Going forward, there is an opportunity for workload repatriation — a return to data centers and on-premise solutions where it makes sense. This year expect to see more agencies align on multi-cloud adoption as they find the right mix of solutions to meet their daily needs. The public cloud should be central to operations that demand high elasticity or a high rate of change during the initial development stages. But not everything within the walls of an organization needs to be on one platform in 2023.
Improving Cybersecurity and Organizational Resilience
Ransomware attacks and other data breaches are steadily rising with government, education, and healthcare organizations among the most exposed. Nearly 60 percent of U.S. cybersecurity professionals experienced a ransomware attack in the past year, according to VMware’s 2022 Global Incident Response Threat Report. With the right tools and communications, government and educational employees can mitigate and respond to cyberthreats more promptly and more effectively. In 2023, state and local governments will continue to bolster their cybersecurity maturity based on the NIST Risk Framework and zero-trust security architecture. Almost all states today have initiatives underway to enhance their identity and access management protocols, with the goal of moving away from security point controls. Improving organizational resilience will be an ongoing theme throughout the public sector — allowing people to work from almost anywhere and collaborate effectively and securely.
Doing More to Recruit, Retain, and Develop Talent
Utilizing better staffing and resource management to complete time-sensitive projects will remain key for state and local governments in the year ahead. Public agencies and institutions will further hone their efforts to recruit, develop, and upskill talent as they go head to head with the private sector, which can offer more competitive salaries. Now, as a growing number of tech giants reduce their workforces by the thousands, a growing pool of talent in the market gives government agencies and educational organizations a potential windfall. Agencies and institutions will continue to look for new and improved ways to attract and retain workers with specialized skills in the multi-cloud, digital security, and machine learning to help tackle pertinent issues such as broadband expansion and equitable service distribution. In 2023, IT teams across government and education will be heavily focused on addressing the digital divide and ensuring that vital programs for everyday citizens are accessible and evenly shared. Against that backdrop, expect to see focused initiatives to offer better skills training carved out in budgets more frequently and with greater urgency throughout the public sector.
Zeroing in on Application Portfolio Management
Across the country, the number of applications, software services, and online portals used by individual agencies and citizens are proliferating at an almost alarming rate. That increasingly causes a patchwork of digital platforms that can lead to huge roadblocks for state and local governments and educational organizations, as well as healthcare systems. At the same time, outdated legacy systems in government are becoming more glaring than ever and will cause even bigger headaches if they lose compatibility, suddenly stop working, or become a target for hackers. With those concerns top of mind in 2023, cities, counties, and states alike are working on their application portfolio management with a huge focus on optimizing and streamlining their software services. About two thirds state governments still lack a solid application portfolio management process, according to a recent joint study from VMware and NASCIO. In the year ahead, we expect agencies to continue improving their management processes and moving towards container-based application delivery as they look to modernize and eliminate technical debt.