The “cloud first” approach is sweeping government agencies by storm, both at the federal level as well as the local and state level. With so many different digital transformation processes in motion to benefit both government staff as well as citizens, it’s no surprise that thoughtful cloud strategies are swiftly being enacted across the country.
To gain a better understanding of how cloud adoption looks from a local government perspective, FTI spoke with Peter Kennedy, CTO for the Town of Cary, NC, about their recent expansion of cloud-based services and what it means for the Cary staff and residents. We also spoke with Steve Stover of Samanage, one of the Town of Cary’s main technology partners about the city’s vision for the future.
Kennedy dove into the immense benefits of cloud technology for the Town of Cary’s government, stating that its implementation allowed them to break out of their departmental silos and operate more fluidly and nimbly.
“Some of [the departments] were completely unaware of what other departments were doing or if they were actually even overlapping with some of the stuff that was happening in the organization,” stated Kennedy. “It’s also pretty well-known now that trying to maintain everything [technologically] in-house isn’t sustainable with staff.”
He also explained that IT support has become more of a brokerage service as opposed to its previously more hand-on role. With less dependence on IT teams for smaller, simpler tasks, this shift allows for a more efficient use of time and resources for all parties.
From a citizen’s perspective, the Town of Cary’s cloud-first initiative allows them to interact with platforms with which they are comfortable and familiar, meaning less procedural frustration and more time spent on shaping and enjoying their community. Kennedy noted, “We’re providing a more timely service to our customers.”
Kennedy explained that his team’s end goal is to provide Cary residents with a one-stop shop that allows them to manage anything they need to through the city’s cloud network, from bill pay to garbage pickup.
Stover added, “Peter is highlighting a common trend about trying to move away from on-prem systems. Driving the service experience is what’s important to your end customer.” Stover explained how that shift towards more innovative solutions benefits both internal staff as well as citizens when he said, “Same concepts apply in terms of agility and being able to enable the IT organization to respond more to strategic activities versus managing infrastructure.”
The Town of Cary staff currently is using technology like Waze, Salesforce, Office 365, and even testing out Alexa to make both their working environment and the citizen service experience more comprehensive and cohesive. Departments like Parks and Recreation are already utilizing these resources to offer a more modernized experience for Cary citizens.
However, similar to past thought leaders FTI has spoken with, the cultural shift towards newer technology seems to be a tough one for some departments, but Kennedy acknowledged its importance. “Change is tough for anybody and nothing about that is unique to government. What we found was that some people here had a hard time moving from the concept that you’re just going to know how to one thing or two things to now you not only going to have to know more things, but you’re going to have updates on these things constantly. It’s going to be a complete cycle.”
He continued with a few examples of Town of Cary departments that are seizing the chance to get involved and solve some of their long-standing problems with new technology. “Some of the nice things about these platforms are that you don’t have to learn how to use five different [applications] because everyone’s working from the same platform, but also they really have an opportunity to embrace.”
To learn more about federal technology trends and best practices, subscribe to the Federal Technology Insider newsletter here. If you’d like to share your insights as an industry expert, please reach out to the FTI team here.