Survey: State CIOs in the U.S. Are Focusing on Application Modernization as Citizen Expectations Soar to New Levels

Results from a recently released survey conducted by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and VMware suggests that Application Modernization is “an Imperative for State Governments.”

The findings include survey data from state chief information officers (CIOs) on the current state of application modernization in states, how states are approaching application modernization and various processes that are currently being managed by states.

“While legacy modernization has been a state CIO priority for a while, the COVID-19 pandemic brought much needed attention and funding to this important challenge,” said Doug Robinson, NASCIO executive director. “In order to meet citizen demand, states must put in place a roadmap for application modernization and prioritize investments.”

The report – which presents an assessment of the current status of state initiatives, top drivers and challenges to application modernization, expected benefits, and funding approaches – elaborated on that “citizen demand.”

Citizen Expectations Have Never Been Higher for Digital Services

“Software modernization is not a new concept for state governments and the demand for digital citizen services has escalated,” begins the report. “Older legacy systems have not had the capacity and capability to meet citizen demand — the pandemic forced action on all states to respond posthaste. Government organizations are responding with digital transformation initiatives to provide a ‘no wrong door’ portal capable of bringing single access integration across program services to provide more efficient and effective outcomes. The technical capabilities have vastly improved – making it easier to eliminate technical debt, rather than adding to it. This, along with organizational change management, will foster a new way of working for government IT.”

The exhaustive report, which also “offers recommendations for your application modernization program, which can serve as a critical data-gathering process for starting an effective application modernization journey,” provides other insights, too. For example, it suggested key ways to measure the “business value of your applications.

Do You Know Your Big Picture?

A key data point from the study is that 69% of states have or are considering a documented application management strategy. In addition, 48% indicated that at least half of their applications need to be modernized.

Application Inventory

A typical state has more than a thousand applications in their portfolio. This points to the vital need to have an overall application inventory.

Balancing Value and Risk

A framework to measure the business value of your applications and de-risk your application modernization efforts is essential. Adopting a framework for enterprise portfolio management will help to plan a consistent method of execution. This will ensure the integration and integrity of financial, human resources and IT planning.

Framework for Planning

A solid application modernization framework will also ensure repeatable, consistent project management processes for state government to sustain changes in administrations, as well as ensure improved delivery of projects on time, within budget and scope.

IT Management Framework

A highly successful business and technical framework is vendor agnostic. The IT program framework is an effective tool for state governments to plan and manage IT initiatives. It must be based on the idea that effective modernization efforts balance the need to maintain existing systems, the need to improve them, the need to migrate them to new platforms or architectures, and the need to sunset them and possibly replace them with new solutions.

By taking into account these modernization imperatives, state government leaders can efficiently upskill and reskill their workforces, develop a comprehensive IT strategy, and de-risk the path to modernization.”

The full report can be downloaded here:

Herb Thompson, SLED Strategist at VMware, which partnered with NASCIO in producing the report, noted that “state governments are navigating accelerated innovation timelines with a critical focus on application modernization. Application modernization is transforming and expanding how governments deliver access to digital services for citizens. Wherever agencies are on their digital transformation journeys, prioritizing application modernization will help them innovate faster, create resiliency, better serve and meet mission demands.”


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