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10 Government IT Predictions For 2012: IDC

Mobile will be government IT's top governance issue, and overall government IT spending will hit $82.4 billion, IDC predicts.

Cloud computing, social media, and mobile solutions top research firm IDC's top 10 predictions for the government IT market in 2012.

Federal, state, and local governments will spend about $82.4 billion on hardware, software, and IT services in 2012, according to IDC Government Insights, and that investment will align with four key themes: operational efficiency, mobility, smart government, and economic stability.

Data center consolidation, a trend with considerable momentum already behind it, will continue to inform government IT decisions next year. State and local governments will take the federal government's lead and begin to do away with smaller data centers, according to IDC.

Governments also will tap technology to "do more with less" and increasingly depend on externally hosted systems and services in 2012, the firm said.

[ Learn how the government is making strides toward its IT goals. Read Federal CIO: Project Oversight Saves $1 Billion. ]

IDC Government Insight's top 10 predictions for the government space next year are as follows:

1. Up to 10% of states will have shared cloud hubs by the end of 2012, rapidly growing to 65% of states by 2015. State and local governments are relying on each other, rather than third-party providers, for cloud computing infrastructure, and will increasingly begin sharing apps like email and productivity in 2012, according to IDC.

2. Governments at all levels will experiment with using social media to systematically collect and distribute information. Rather than using social media merely as a two-way form of communication, governments will explore options for social data mining and analytics, the firm said.

3. Mobility will become the top IT governance issue, moving beyond device management to encompass broader business issues. In what should come as little surprise, governments will see "explosive new growth" in mobile applications and devices, not only for citizen outreach, but also for more internal business use, according to IDC.

4. Small federal data centers (under 500 square feet) will be reduced by 70% in 2012, with state and local governments following suit. This will result in larger data centers getting even larger, and smaller centers hitting the endangered species list.

5. More than 20% of government IT and business process outsourcing requests for proposals will include service-level agreements tied to internal business and/or program outcomes. This trend will be fueled by continued budget constraints, which also will require better metrics to ensure technology investments meet policy goals, according to IDC.

6. Global investment in smart city technologies will hit $40.9 billion in 2012. Urban planners will look to intelligent technology solutions to better serve residents' needs, as financial and natural resources are constrained.

7. Due to increased use of cloud computing, CIOs will spend up to 20% of their time in 2012 reviewing the terms and conditions of service-level agreements and move toward standardization. As governments use more externally hosted and managed systems, CIOs must keep a closer eye on contracts that require specific services as part of their delivery, according to IDC.

8. Governments will take small steps to satiate their big appetite for big data. The use of data analytics--already a growing trend at the federal level--will become even more prevalent next year, the research firm said.

9. Foundational high-speed communications networks will finally hit critical mass, a move that's being driven in part by the move to intelligent transportation and public safety systems.

10. Governments will start updating legacy systems and engage in cross-agency collaboration that moves them to a higher stage in smart-government maturity. As the feds move to shared services (PDF)--a strategy laid out by U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel to streamline IT through remote sharing of technology, process, and people--there will be more cross-agency info-sharing and collaboration, according to IDC.

Our annual Federal Government IT Priorities Survey shows how agencies are managing the many mandates competing for their limited resources. Also in the new issue of InformationWeek Government: NASA veterans launch cloud startups, and U.S. Marshals Service completes tech revamp. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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