What Public Sector CIOs Will Be spending on in 2018

by | Jan 24, 2018

Government IT, CIOs, CIO

Image: President Obama testing the Federal Government IT Dashboard. Focus keyword: CIOs

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Mumbai,  India, 23rd January, 2018 — Cloud solutionscybersecurity and analytics are the top technologies targeted for new and additional spending by public sector CIOs in 2018, while data center infrastructure is the most commonly targeted for cost savings, according to a survey from Gartner, Inc.

Sixteen percent of government CIOs said they plan to increase spending on business intelligence (BI) and analytics (16 percent) and data management (six percent) in 2018 (see Table 2).

Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey gathered data from 3,160 CIO respondents in 98 countries and across major industries, including 461 government CIOs.Government respondents are segmented into national or federal; state or province (regional); local; and defense and intelligence, to identify trends specific to each tier.

Digital transformation is the top-ranked business priority among government CIOs overall, followed by security and governance.

“Digital transformation revolves around data. To be successful, public sector CIOs need to focus on expanding their data and analytics capabilities and creating a data-centric culture, by increasing the availability of open data and APIs for internal use and public consumption,” said Rick Howard, research vice president at Gartner. “Building out data analytics infrastructure is fundamental to improving government program outcomes and services to citizens.”

Top Business Priorities

The survey found that digital business/digital transformation is more important for government (first priority for 18 percent of respondents) than for all industries (17 percent), with the exception of defense and intelligence agencies (six percent). Private sector companies ranked it second, after growth/market share. The next three business priorities for government are security, safety and risk (13 percent); governance, compliance and regulations (12 percent); and technology initiatives/improvements (11 percent).

“Government CIOs have conflicting priorities — to bring transformative change to their organizations, while pursuing compliance-oriented priorities,” said Mr. Howard. “They will need to work constructively with other business leaders to agree how to balance risk and innovation to support digital transformation.”

Top Technologies to Achieve the Organization’s Mission

In response to the question “Which technology investment is most crucial to achieving your organization’s mission?” cloud and BI/analytics were mentioned by 19 percent and 18 percent of government CIOs respectively, followed by infrastructure/data center at 11 percent (see Table 1). National and federal CIOs are the exception, placing customer relationship management as a distant third.

Table 1. Top Tech to Win

Rank Government Priorities % Respondents
1 Cloud services/solutions 19%
2 BI/analytics 18%
3 Infrastructure/data center 11%
4 Digitalization/digital marketing 6%
5 Customer relationship management 5%
6 Security and risk 5%
7 Networking, voice and data communications 4%
8 Legacy modernization 4%
9 Enterprise resource planning 4%
10 Mobility/mobile applications 3%

Source: Gartner (October 2017)

Four categories that differ from other sectors:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) ranks among the top 10 technology area for the overall sample, but is not present for government (ranked 19th). The exception is defense and intelligence, where a greater percentage of CIOs mentioned AI (7 percent) over CIOs in other industries (6 percent).
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) are considered important by a greater percentage of federal or national CIOs (four percent) than other tiers of government or the private sector, which did not position APIs among the top 10 technologies.
  • Cloud services/solutions and infrastructure/data center combined was ranked in the top 10 by 30 percent of government CIOs, compared with only 12 percent in all other industries. In contrast, digitalization/digital marketing in the private sector sits at 16 percent, more than twice the rate in government (six percent).
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is a top 10 item for all industries, but is not present for government (ranked 12th). The two exceptions are local government due to smart city projects, as well as defense and intelligence, which relies on data flowing from sensors that monitor a wide range of activity.

“Many government CIOs are rebalancing capital expenditure (capex) and operating expenditure (opex) spending patterns to reduce technical debt, while making the strategic shift to cloud,” Mr. Howard said. “They should consider cloud as the means to accelerate the digitalization of their organizations and enable the business optimization that results.”

Top New Tech Investments

Consistent with ranking cloud, analytics and infrastructure/data center as crucial to achieving the organization’s mission, government CIOs also anticipate increased spending in these areas.

Table 2. Top New Tech Spending 

Rank Government Priorities % Respondents


Cloud services/solutions



Cyber/information security






Infrastructure/data center



Digitalization/digital marketing



Data management






Networking, voice/data communications



Application development



Software – development or upgrades


Source: Gartner (October 2017)

While only five percent of government CIOs considered security and risk as crucial to achieving the organization’s mission, 17 percent expect to boost spending in cyber/information security. This indicates that security is not a competitive differentiator for government, but additional spending over historical levels in this area is warranted as a response to relentless attempts to exploit system vulnerabilities.

“The lessons of reputational damage and individual harm that can result from a data breach or compromised security have not been lost on business leaders,” Mr. Howard said. “Consequently, they’re willing to allocate more resources and attention to lower risk exposure from cyberattacks.”

Gartner clients can read more in the report “2018 CIO Agenda: Government Insights.”

You might also want to read:

Gartner Highlights Top 10 Strategic Technologies for Government in 2016


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Brian Pereira
Brian Pereira
Brian Pereira is an Indian journalist and editor based in Mumbai. He founded Digital Creed in 2015. A technology buff, former computer instructor, and software developer, Brian has 29 years of journalism experience (since 1994). Brian is the former Editor of CHIP India, InformationWeek India and CISO Mag. He has served India's leading newspaper groups: The Times of India and The Indian Express. Presently, he serves the Information Security Media Group, as Sr. Director, Editorial. You'll find his most current work on CIO Inc. During his career he wrote (and continues to write) 5000+ technology articles. He conducted more than 450 industry interviews. Brian writes on aviation, drones, cybersecurity, tech startups, cloud, data center, AI/ML/Gen AI, IoT, Blockchain etc. He achieved certifications from the EC-Council (Certified Secure Computer User) and from IBM (Basics of Cloud Computing). Apart from those, he has successfully completed many courses on Content Marketing and Business Writing. He recently achieved a Certificate in Cybersecurity (CC) from the international certification body ISC2. Follow Brian on Twitter (@creed_digital) and LinkedIn. Email Brian at: [email protected]
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