Research was conducted across agencies, other financial regulators, and the financial and banking industry, to find operational, economic, and technological trends that drive the way IT services are delivered.
Information Technology Trends
Three major IT trends are changing how IT enables businesses cross-industry: mobility, cloud technology, and data management. These three trends have become fundamental to modern IT service delivery and continue to be a major federal government focus as agencies modernize and enhance their IT capabilities.
- Mobility: Research has shown that agencies embracing mobility have reduced costs, engaged the public better, and enhanced flexibility for staff. Mobile applications help organizations become more efficient and enable real time access to data. Additionally, pervasive public mobile device adoption is an opportunity for government and industry services to become more accessible to authorized users.
- Cloud Technology: The emergence and adoption of cloud technology has forced cross-industry reevaluation of how IT supports business functions. Cloud technology enables continuous availability of services, scalable computing power and storage, and long-term cost reduction because users pay for only the capacity that is actually used. This is a shift from traditional infrastructure and services that are subject to the challenge of trying to estimate usage before it occurs, which increases cost regardless of actual usage and provides limited scalability. To better enable federal agencies to leverage the benefits of cloud technology, the General Services Administration (GSA) established the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) in 2011 to provide a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services for federal agency use. Agencies and businesses continue to move, build, and buy applications, systems, and infrastructure in the cloud. Vendor owned and operated infrastructure has also increased in use as agencies continue to move toward shared or managed services, which frees up resources to be redistributed as priorities change.
- Data Management: Across the government and industry, there is a recognition that the effective understanding, management and governance of data is the lifeblood of an organization’s ability to make well-informed decisions to achieve its mission. This requires organizations to shift towards data-centric approaches to problem solving and future planning. This includes moving IT security and privacy practices to protecting data and not simply the network and IT assets. New tools around the use of “big data” such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are mainstream in commercial applications, and government agencies are beginning to explore and use these for government data.
IT Service Delivery
Today, annual federal IT budgets continue to spend more on operations and maintenance of current IT capabilities leaving less to mitigate the critical risks of technological obsolescence and to develop new and enhanced IT applications. IT organizations must take a critical look at the cost of operating and maintaining their existing IT infrastructures and legacy application systems and seek opportunities to improve efficiency through the implementation of new or enhanced capabilities. This is causing many agencies to consider newer operating models, such as shared or managed IT services, to reduce the costs of ongoing operations and maintenance and free up additional resources.
Portfolio management challenges continue to exist. These include the immediate need to address the performance shortcomings or deficiencies of existing applications before attention can be given to concerns about technology obsolescence and application modernization. In some cases, this may involve the replacement of current applications with modular solutions in a shared services environment. Clear criteria and repeatable processes are required to assign priority for these actions consistent with available resources.
In many cases, traditional development and delivery techniques are being replaced with rapid experimentation and capability delivery. Agile methodologies that enable incremental development can lower upfront costs and provide more opportunities to introduce innovation with each successive release of an application.