Kapil Bakshi is a distinguished systems engineer at Cisco.
The office of chief information officer has evolved substantially. In the past, CIOs were positioned as an organization’s IT support, overseeing the technical assistance provided to departments across the company.
This dynamic has shifted to recognize CIOs as enablers or partners for an organization by providing them with the means to implement or accomplish large projects and small tasks. And now, over the past year or so, many CIOs have been given an increasingly larger seat at the boardroom table. CIOs across industry and government are now considered an integral part of an organization’s strategic planning and operations.
The emerging trend among modern CIOs is to think bigger and have goals beyond lowering costs and increasing efficiency. Efficiency and cost are important, but government CIOs need to think strategically about the mission and role of the IT department to fully enable the digital transformation of their agency.
With that in mind, here are four “tech” resolutions that federal CIOs should consider as we enter 2016:
1. Embrace hybrid
Cloud is no longer a new buzzword for government. Agencies at every level are considering, deploying or at least talking about cloud solutions.
Cloud concerns remain, but there is a definite shift towards hybrid solutions. Hybrid cloud offers the security of private cloud and flexibility of a public cloud platform.
Cloud enables agencies to reshape how they deliver and manage IT services, but a hybrid approach provides even greater flexibility for agencies interested in extending their existing data center into public clouds.
Government CIOs that were early, smart adopters of cloud have seen success and the same is true for those now embracing hybrid solutions.
2. Take Analytics to the next level
The amount of data produced and collected by agencies today is astonishing. Data is now a key component of every department in every agency across government.
CIOs should be looking at how they can more effectively and efficiently gather insights from this information and use it to drive the agency mission forward. CIOs should look to business analytics and data from the Internet of Things to facilitate new insights on improving operations.
Organizations should also ensure the IT infrastructure data is being leveraged effectively to evaluate equipment and application performance.
Finally, CIOs should continue to look at comprehensive analytics to support security operations as the threat landscape continues to grow increasingly complex.
3. Invest in advanced threat detection
Because the sophistication of threats is continually changing, CIOs are increasingly challenged to monitor and protect network assets. The network data being protected is often sensitive, containing personal information of federal employees or potentially information that could be used to disrupt missions or even target soldiers abroad.
As such, many CIOs, including those within the Defense Department are looking at advanced malware protection tools for support. Introducing AMP capabilities will be critical moving forward with tools providing continuous identification and monitoring of files across the network and integrating across different devices in multi-vendor environments.
Further, corrupted files can be identified at any time and then traced back to the original source, which enables agencies to not only identify patient “zero,” but also evaluate any other files that may have been compromised.
4. Unleash “fast IT”
"Big data analytics" and "cloud" might not be buzzwords anymore, but “fast IT” is one government agencies will continue to hear more often in the coming year.
Fast IT is about creating a structure that enables an organization, government or industry, to function effectively in today’s complex environments. Gartner views this issue as a dichotomy of Mode 1 and Mode 2, with the former representing traditional, stable IT and the latter more flexible, or fast IT. Both modes serve a purpose, but modern digital environments require organizations to operate with greater agility.
To that end, CIOs in 2016 should be evaluating whether their decisions support this objective. Are legacy applications being replaced with next-generation app development? Are cloud, automation and software defined networking technologies being considered? Agencies that answer yes are already on the path to unleashing Fast IT.
Government technology trends are constantly evolving to meet the unique and changing needs of civilian, defense and intelligence agencies. Looking toward 2016 and beyond, agency CIOs must be flexible and pursue solutions that offer the efficiency, security and agility required to accomplish the mission, whether that’s on the battlefield or delivering citizen services.