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February 2010 | Volume 13 / Number 2
Channel Perspectives

Government Technology Spending is Still Alive

Despite the still uncertain economic conditions, the government continues to invest in IT. At the recent Government CIO Summit held in Lansdowne, Va., interesting insight was offered into the government IT challenges and priorities for coming years, including spending.

Of note, the economy will continue to impact spending behavior and investments in 2010 and beyond. While the typical discussion of technology was noticeably absent among CIOs, it was clear that IT spending is alive. In fact, it was apparent that most CIOs are evaluating methods to extend the life of and maximize investments in IT infrastructure assets.

For the immediate future, innovation investments are on the shelf until tax revenues return or vendors can show a hard ROI model. It is also apparent that CIOs are proactively engaging line of business managers and IT managers to close the gap on service requirements, delivery management and inefficiencies in the organization. As an example, teleworking and flexible hours are becoming a premium incentive to government employees and IT. This requires a mix of remote worker solutions. Integrating thin client devices with a SIP-based softphone is a true advantage to remotely managing and administering service. Since the thin client reduces bandwidth requirements, telephony performance is enhanced and businesses have the potential to improve operations, consolidate assets and reduce cost.

Interestingly, VoIP migration and UC were also top of mind, with data center consolidation and virtualization, VoIP and UC hot topics of discussion, largely due to similarities in management challenges. VoIP offers more robust remote management capabilities and is generally associated with UC capabilities and collaboration tools. After all, what is a car without tires! UC has tremendous value for the incoming millennial workers, ages 16 to 45, and the CIOs are getting behind it on every front. Today, millennials, comprised of generations X and Y, represent 35 to 45 percent of the workforce, a number that will continue to grow in the coming years. Generation Y, those ages 16 to 28, are trendsetters, a perfect match for UC applications and tools since the group as a whole generally adapts quickly to new technology and change.

In an era of downsizing governments and cost-conscious government managers, you can engender an endearing case for outsourcing almost anything. Business communications, including PBX (News - Alert) communications, expertise can still be an enviable quality, but an outright preference to outsourcing PBX over self management is not readily apparent. In fact, the pendulum is swinging to self management. More and more, government clients are finding that they can self manage as network performance stabilizes. Vendors need to ask themselves a hard question: What value do we bring to our customer? Plain vanilla commodity services face consolidation or elimination. Value-added services and innovation put partners in a different class of partnership with the customer.

However, budget is not the only functional area being affected. IT downsizing and furloughs are affecting the ability of government organizations to deliver services. Additionally, baby boomers, a generation that generally accounts for more than 50 percent of government workers, are facing retirement age, threatening government organizations with the loss of seasoned employees with advanced skill sets; training may be a luxury that some organizations can no longer retain. Government CIOs emphasize that they expect their vendors to help fill these gaps and become partners in optimizing business infrastructure investments going forward. IT

Doug Martinez is director of government accounts for NEC (News - Alert) Corporation of America

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