The Accenture Federal Technology Vision addresses the five technology trends poised to have the most significant impact on how government operates over the next three years. Today, we look at Trend 1: Stack Strategically as it promises to be a game-changer for Federal agencies.
If the COVID-19 pandemic proved anything, the Federal government needs to rethink its approach to technology. In fast-moving times, it’s more important than ever to approach business strategy and IT strategy as two halves of a whole.
Take, for example, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), which processes Federal financial aid. Rather than just upgrade, the agency recently rearchitected to deliver a more consistent user experience across multiple channels. Thanks to automation, containerization, and a flexible cloud architecture, the agency is processing vastly greater numbers of applications more efficiently than ever.
IT Drives Change
Just as Amazon has aligned its technology architecture with its business goals to create an often-unbeatable competitive differentiator – low costs, vast selection, fast delivery – Federal technology architects can leverage modernized tools to radically alter how their agencies execute the mission.
They can expand every element of the stack – from the distribution of cloud deployments, to the types of AI models, to the integration of edge devices – to drive mission improvements.
Rather than remain encumbered by outdated infrastructures, IT leaders can transform their architecture to play a more active role in propelling the agency’s mission and business operations. They can work with business-line leaders to make critical architectural decisions to leverage both existing and emerging capabilities to the greatest effect.
Most already see the wind blowing in this direction. Accenture found that 90 percent of Federal executives agree that their organization’s business and technology strategies are becoming inseparable – even indistinguishable.
To succeed in fast-changing times, agencies need robust and versatile infrastructures. They need to shed technical debt in favor of building technical wealth.
Trend 1: Stack Strategically of the Accenture Federal Technology Vision proposes a three-pronged approach to modernization. To succeed, agencies need to Fortify, Extend, and Reinvent their architectures to bring them into closer alignment with business objectives.
- Fortify: As the FSA proved, cloud-native architectures can empower government to innovate and adapt at digital speed. By making smart strategic decisions, agencies can build technical wealth, leveraging modernization to generate cost savings and further enhancements.The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for example, has implemented an API architecture that allowed it to consolidate operations within eight mission areas, maximize technology ROI through decoupling and reuse, and provide more integrated customer service. The point is that applications and data alike offer opportunities to fortify the base of technical wealth.
- Extend: Agencies can extend the impact of their IT investments by tying technology strategies to specific business tactics and solutions. For example, by connecting agency missions to the cloud, these programs can tap the rich variety of capabilities offered by cloud service providers to deliver innovative services.And with a multi-cloud approach – such as that adopted by the Homeland Security Department, the Treasury Department, and the CIA — they can tap into multiple best-of-breed platforms and applications while avoiding potential vendor lock-in.
- Reinvent: Agencies need more than incremental advances. They need to take proactive steps to ensure the new tools are put to the best and highest use in the current environment.Given concerns about possible misuse of AI and ML, they need to reinvent their strategies and policies to prioritize “responsible” or “ethical” use. Reinvention challenges government agencies to develop a firm understanding of the emerging technologies proliferating across virtually every industry.
Architecture as Strategy
Our Federal Technology Vision found that just 30 percent of Federal executives say that technology drives their organization’s overall strategy and goals. But there’s a big potential win here, too: 87 percent of Federal executives believe that their organization’s ability to generate business value will increasingly be based on choices made around their technology architecture.
To adapt more nimbly to changing requirements and emerging capabilities, agencies can start by reimagining the role of the enterprise architect with a focus on weaving technology and data into their organizational DNA.
With a more strategic approach to the IT stack, agencies can accelerate their innovation strategies to meet changing mission demands. The technology choices they make today will have a far-reaching impact: By focusing on the intersection of architecture and business needs, agencies can more effectively determine their futures.