Monday, June 5, 2017

My experience with McKinsey's 10 IT Trends

McKinsey's "Ten IT-enabled business trends for the decade ahead" article struck me as a very accurate recap of macro trends in IT that I have witnessed in recent years. Only after finishing the article did I realize it was written 4 years ago! Their predictions seem obvious now (and perhaps seemed obvious 4 years ago to some), but as I work in IT consulting in the US with government clients many of these trends are at the forefront of my work experience now.

I work for an IT consulting firm with a government client and have been working for over a year on deploying a new "business intelligence" reporting solution for their financial data. In many of my meetings with management we routinely discuss "big data and advanced analytics" (trend #2) and "automating knowledge work" (trend #5). Over the last 10 to 15 years many government agencies have begun using IT systems to capture transactional data and have since accumulated a large and growing set of data. Most reporting and analytics efforts have been decentralized and focused on small parts of their business. However now there is a big drive to aggregate their wide expanse of data to be able to easily take big picture views while still being able to dive deep into the underlying data. Their is also a large drive to automate knowledge work through IT. One estimate from a think tank, Reform, says that only 20% of government workers do regular strategic or cognitive work, and that the rest could be replaced or streamlined with automation [1].

The final trend (#10) in the McKinsey article regarding IT in the government had the following quote "They [Government] have lagged behind in productivity growth at least in part because they have been slow to adopt [...]", and then listed out some IT trends mentioned elsewhere in the article. I left out the IT trends mentioned because I feel that quote alone could be applied to the government at almost any time. They were slow to move from paper to computers, slow to move from mainframe to web-based applications, and will likely be slow in adopting future IT trends as well.

With seemingly constant budget pressures these days for governments, I think they will increasingly turn to data analytics and automation as a way to cut down on costs and free up workers to do more cognitive work. However, they will likely always be "behind the curve" compared to businesses.

[1] Bershidsky, Leonid. "Robots versus Bureaucrats: Why Public Sector Work Is Ripe for Automation." Financial Post. Bloomberg News, 9 Feb. 2017. Web. 05 June 2017.

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