This blog was written by Jason Engen, the Public Sector Director at DataBank. Jason has been active within the public sector space for 15 years, with his primary focus being on state and local government.
It’s 6:30 in the morning and I’m sitting in the airport heading home from one of my last client engagements of the year. To be honest, it’s a little hard for me to digest that 2020 is only a few weeks away. It makes me pause to reflect on where the last ten years have gone.
These past years have not just introduced, but normalized, discussions around topics like blockchain, IoT, cloud-first and big data. Disruptive technologies like Uber, Airbnb, InstaCart and Amazon Prime and social media platforms are now the norm. For most, digital transformation is now considered to be an old concept. It’s something that’s continuous and brings constant change.
However as I reflect this morning, I’m not doing so from a personal perspective; but instead from the point of view of the many clients I’ve had the opportunity to interact with over the past ten years. Those clients I’m referring to are almost exclusively ones that fall within the public sector space, more specifically state and local government. Over the years I’ve been given the opportunity to engage with, partner with, guide and be guided by some of the most service-oriented people and organizations around the United States; and I’m at times humbled to be part of their journey.
To be very clear, I consider myself to be a technologist; and early in my career I came into the Public Sector kicking and screaming because the perception I had around government wasn’t exactly centered in innovation and creative use of technology.
As a technologist, I get excited about the newness of technology. It’s fun, and for the most part it makes elements of my day-to-day life easier. For example, as much as I travel, I wouldn’t know what to do without the convenience of Uber and Lyft. However over the past decade, my customers have educated me on a different way to view technology.
You see in government, the new and “shiny” side of technology almost has to be put aside and compartmentalized. Technology is procured with public funding, and because of that it has to serve the citizens. Technology today supports better service delivery and more personalized engagement for the citizens that rely on the services government provides. It also provides internal tools for public service workers to deliver those services in an efficient and effective way.
Contrary to my original thoughts, people in government are actually not averse to technology, but they are averse to technology that’s not in support of their services-driven culture and mission. Not only am I in awe of how fast modern technology has advanced, I’m equally in awe of how our clients have not let this rapid advancement become a distraction when it comes to their mission.
In closing, I’m not sure where technology will take us into the next decade. What I do know is the hundreds of public sector clients we work with strive to systematically explore and align themselves with those technologies that support the mission of their agencies and the citizens they support, and I hope they continue to bring our team along with them on that journey.