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More Cloud, Fewer Contact Centers Predicted For Feds

Work mandated by the Open Government Directive will bring an increase in cloud computing adoption and consolidation of contact centers in 2011, according to research firm IDC.

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A consolidation of contact centers, a major surge in cloud computing adoption, and some of the first positive effects from work mandated by the Open Government Directive are among the top trends research firm IDC predicts will come out the government IT space this year.

The firm made its top 10 predictions for 2011, a list that includes some obvious scenarios, and some that are a little more surprising.

The No. 1 choice -- that the federal government will undertake a consolidation of its contact centers in the same way it's broadly cutting back on data centers -- is a bit of a red herring. Unlike the case with the number of data centers -- which ballooned significantly in a short amount of time – there isn't a lot of extra real estate in government customer service centers, call centers, help desks, and the like.

However, the federal government will realize it can achieve efficiencies by consolidating their numbers, a move it will undertake in 2011, according to IDC. Agencies will use shared services, cloud computing, and more electronic self-service opportunities to achieve contact center consolidation, the firm said.

With U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra late last year mandating a "cloud first" strategy for agency IT reform, it's not unexpected that 2011 will be the year of the cloud for the Obama administration's IT operations. IDC predicts both private and public clouds will reach critical mass in the federal government based on Kundra's policies and cloud computing's overall role in improving IT operations across all federal agencies.

Agencies also will start to feel the positive effects of the Open Government Directive, a December 2009 presidential mandate to leverage technology to foster transparency, better collaboration among agencies, and improved engagement with the public. "2011 is the year in which collaboration and cooperation with other government entities will begin to take hold as a result of these foundational efforts, delivering integrated information and services to citizens," according to IDC.

Those citizens also will start getting in on the open government action in 2011 as well, predicted IDC. The firm believes that people will begin to design, build, and deploy custom government services by creating mashups of available government data and service components.

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