Many state and local government (SLG) information technology (IT) managers understand the cloud must be central to their strategy as they look to pick up the pace on modernization and transformation efforts. Those who adopt new technologies early typically have an advantage, especially in government. Governments that provide online services distinguish themselves from those who don’t. For example, there are still government services requiring paper forms, paper checks for payment, and in some cases, requiring a physical trip to a government building. The cloud can be the change agent that helps governments modernize and transform to meet the demands of the new government service delivery paradigm.

A new report by MeriTalk and AWS, “Ready, Set, Innovate: Cross-Country Cloud Preparedness,” compiled qualitative data from in-depth interviews with state chief information officers (CIOs), as well as quantitative data from an online survey of 150 SLG IT managers. The report explores cloud adoption strategies, examines cloud preparedness, and offers recommendations to bring modernization and transformation to the forefront.

Overall, 73 percent say they are evaluating cloud as more of a business solution than an infrastructure solution. The benefit of agility from the cloud empowers agencies to modernize applications and to create business value that far exceeds infrastructure cost savings. Time to market, access to advanced technology, scalability, and other benefits of moving to the cloud all help governors and mayors accelerate the timeline to deliver on their campaign promises and better meet their agencies’ missions.

The report also found “Cloud Innovators,” defined as those aggressively moving systems to the cloud, including mission-critical systems when possible, are significantly more likely (79 percent) to evaluate cloud as part as their overall IT strategy (compared to 54 percent of Cloud Conservatives and 33 percent of Cloud Newbies). This group is also more likely to follow the Federal Cloud Smart policy and are almost twice as likely to consider procurement as a business partner. Cloud Smart is a long-term, high-level strategy that offers a path forward for agencies to migrate to a safe and secure cloud infrastructure while achieving cost savings, security, and faster delivery.

Cloud’s Inevitable Future Impact

Nearly all state and local IT professionals say the cloud will influence their government’s ability to address citizen service improvements (94 percent), public safety (89 percent), and elections (83 percent) over the next five years. While progress may be slow, 78 percent say their role is more strategic than it was three years ago, due to increasing cloud options. So, what can CIOs do to speed up progress?

Education is key to closing the gap. IT management, server administrators, and other IT support staff need new skills to manage the same workloads in the cloud. Training for agency business leaders about how the cloud can power the modernization and transformation of government service delivery is paramount to cloud adoption. It is also important to educate financial stakeholders about new financial models and tracking. And, procurement professionals must make sure proper contract vehicles are in place and that teams are following best practices around cost allocation. CIOs must prepare to take advantage of new capabilities to adjust to the cloud, which includes training and education for all the right stakeholders.

CIO Responsibilities

CIOs can start their move to the cloud by embracing change, affecting new policies, and removing barriers to innovation. Moreover, CIOs should make sure that states, cities, and counties have contract agreements and procurement policies in place to take advantage of cloud capabilities. In addition, educating and informing key stakeholders, the workforce, and elected officials is important to being a change agent and shaping the future.

Finally, CIOs have the unique opportunity to change the future of government IT – from data and information sharing to machine learning and solving persistent problems like the opioid crisis. By leveraging technology, state and local CIOs have the power to create real change. Cloud adoption is key to future success, and cloud success will be determined by performance (59 percent), reliability (57 percent), and cost savings (49 percent). In order to improve cloud-readiness, state CIOs should focus on goal setting, agility, and training in the journey to cloud adoption.

To learn more and view the full report, visit:

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs