A substantial break once separated state and local governments from the private sector in their use of leading-edge technologies. One consequence of the fast-hitting global pandemic is the realization that the gap is closing. In the pre-COVID world, state and local governments lagged industry in their planning, strategy, and adoption of cloud-based solutions. However, the 2020 NASCIO state CIO survey found 41% of IT leaders had a cloud first migration strategy in place, while 29% don’t, but are encouraged to leverage the cloud when possible. COVID-19 may very well become known as the great equalizer as more progressive municipalities are realizing instant benefits of their as-a-service technology initiatives, while those on the sidelines are scrambling to play catch up.
Across the country, state and local government CIOs have turned to the cloud to support their work-from-home initiatives and provide critical services to their communities. Early successes are becoming contagious as agencies are finding innovative ways of leveraging the cloud. Whether the motivation is to do more with less, reduce cost, modernize applications, share information, support collaboration, enable employee productivity, create an effective disaster recovery strategy, or optimize operations, state and local governments have found the cloud to be their saving grace.
In the past, government entities often lagged behind commercial IT to avoid risky implementations ironed out by early adopters. Today’s cloud-based solutions, however, are free from that risk. Still, experts remind us that cloud-based solutions, like their on-premise equivalents, require careful preparation, vendor selection, resource planning and strong leadership to be successful. The good news, as the NASCIO survey found, “92% of state IT leaders plan to expand their use of as-a-service models in the next three years.” While the cloud is not the answer to every problem, for state and local governments it has proven to be the short and long-term remedy to what ails them.