Four major tech lessons public sector CIOs learned during COVID-19
Across the United States, state and local governments employ approximately 16 million people. The COVID-19 pandemic sent state and local government chief information officers (CIOs) scrambling as they pivoted to remote work to keep these employees safe while also meeting increased demand from citizens for key public services. They suddenly had to balance a dispersed workforce, which comes with inherent connectivity and cybersecurity challenges, with the needs of the public during a global health crisis. Many government offices, such as those overseeing unemployment benefits, had greater volumes of requests for assistance in the early part of the pandemic—case in point, in one week, the Department of Workforce Development’s Unemployment Insurance Division in Madison, Wis., experienced a 6,208 percent increase in weekly call volume.
A year later, having grappled with the technical aspects of a remote workforce and the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, CIOs have made huge strides in digital transformation for government offices. Yet record unemployment has impacted state and city budgets and will have lasting effects. This means CIOs need to focus their IT spending on areas with the biggest return on investment. There are four major technology trends that state and local CIOs should consider to successfully navigate the new reality of work, cut costs and continue to deliver key services to the public.
Invest in the cloud to power remote work
Since the beginning of the pandemic, public sector CIOs have had a renewed interest in the cloud, which is critical for empowering a remote workforce. Mission critical staff in some areas have returned to physical offices. However, many public sector employees will continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future, and some may even remain remote permanently. With this in mind, CIOs need durable solutions that will empower remote workers to be as productive and collaborative as they were in the office, and cloud provides that. The investment in cloud now means that in the long term, public sector employees will have more secure remote working options that allow them to continue to provide public services even when they can’t physically be in offices.
Increase your security defenses
A dispersed workforce means a greater surface area for potential cyberattacks and challenging economic times mean more bad actors may be looking to monetize stolen data. Verizon’s 2021 Mobile Security Index found that in the public sector, 70 percent of respondents said that a security compromise could put people’s lives at risk by impacting critical or emergency services.
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