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How Digital Transformation Will Impact the Federal Government in 2018

Appian Contributor
January 31, 2018

Federal agencies face many challenges in the years ahead. Innovation within the private sector has only increased the pressure to modernize. In fact, according to Gartner, digital transformation is now the top-ranked business priority among government CIOs overall, followed by security and governance.

However, digital transformation is not just about upgrading to a new software program, it is about making sure any new adoptions will work for your organization long-term.

In 2018, we can expect to see public sector organizations placing more emphasis and budget allocation toward finding new ways to work more efficiently and driving mission success. Here are three digital transformation trends you can expect to have a large impact on public sector organizations this year...

Modernizing Government Technology Act

The Modernizing Government Technology Act will be a large step in the journey to digital transformation within the federal government as it will change the way government will buy information technology products and services in 2018. For the first time, IT leaders in the federal government will be able to make strategic technology investments with the same level of flexibility as their counterparts in the private sector. Organizations will have the opportunity to build robust IT solutions.

The law established working capital funds for IT modernization at individual agencies as it provides more resources to modernize and support the evolution of public sector systems. The funds can be used to improve, retire or replace existing IT systems to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Traditionally, the vast majority of federal IT money has been allocated to maintaining legacy systems, networks and the applications that run on them.

This new piece of legislation will now provide a path for the government to look beyond maintenance and prioritize modernization projects.

Accelerating the migration to the cloud will likely be a key area of focus for most agencies, since it is more cost-effective and allows them to get access to innovative solutions that are continually added to cloud platforms. That will allow agencies to shutter data centers filled with legacy hardware. Agencies will also likely look to rationalize legacy systems and for ways to use digital technology to improve citizen services.


Time to value is critical when agencies are evaluating the merits of enterprise IT programs. Increasingly, agencies are turning towards DevOps as a way to accelerate development and bring capabilities to their end users quicker. And while DevOps is not an altogether new concept, it is poised to take a large role in 2018 as an approach that could help Federal agencies modernize and speed new development efforts, especially as they migrate to cloud services.

DevOps is a software engineering culture as well as a practice that advocates automation and monitoring throughout the software development lifecycle. It generally pairs development teams with IT operations throughout the development cycle, eliminating the somewhat adversarial role that sometimes has naturally formed in many organizations.

The goal is to shorten development cycles, increase application deployment frequency, and ensure more dependable releases all in conjunction with aligning IT with business processes and objectives.

This is where a low-code platform can deliver tremendous benefits to government organizations. The Appian low-code platform allows agencies to minimize the complexity of application development across domains. Managed from a centralized IT group, disparate groups of application developers can work on the same platform, thus providing a reduction in costs and in increase in efficiency.

Read our industry brief to learn more about how Appian supports DevOps.

Robotic Process Automation

Federal agencies are keen to modernize their outdated IT systems, but the process of replacing massive legacy systems is slow and often requires large investments when agencies must also maintain existing operations, while still meeting increasingly high citizen experience expectations.

Applying automation to routine, repeatable business tasks can reduce or eliminate many of the obstacles to delivering fast, efficient citizen outcomes, and robotic process automation (RPA) is quickly proving to be a valuable way of doing just that.

And Appian partner, Blue Prism, is proving to be an industry leader in this field. So what is RPA? Simply put, it is a computer program operating as a recording of human interaction. It records activities like typing, checking for errors, and cutting and pasting between applications. Once the recording is created, logic can also be added as needed. When integrated with a broader intelligent automation platform, RPA can then be strategically implemented to streamline the administrative process by enabling the computer to execute basic tasks that then can free resources, time and capital.

Agencies in today's government face budget reductions and limited resources. However, the mission still needs to be achieved. And while this technology is automating internal processes, the yield is what is benefitting the constituents.

Process time can be reduced dramatically, while also decreasing human errors within these processes, which means cases are resolved for constituents quicker. And in today's environment, that is exactly what we as consumers expect.

2018 and Beyond...

Federal CIOs are confronted with conflicting priorities to bring transformative change to their agencies, while also pursuing compliance-oriented priorities. This demand for agency modernization, that continues to keep pace with the innovation of the private sector, requires a highly agile, flexible, secure, and on-demand platform to respond to specific needs.

Visit our Federal resource center to learn how your agency can harness the power of the Appian Platform to uncover strategies for high-speed, cost-effective IT modernization that fit your specific organization demands.

Brian Chidester

Industry Marketing Lead - Public Sector