digital technologies


A government perspective: Tech Trends 2017

The kinetic enterprise

This report provides a government-specific perspective on Deloitte’s 2017 technology trends report. Over the next 18 to 24 months, each of these trends has the potential to disrupt the way government organizations think about operating and delivery models across functions, organizations, and interactions.

Technology trends facing the government

Macro forces—such as digital, analytics, cloud, core modernization, and the changing role of IT—are at the heart of the technology trends that are fueling innovation and growth in both the private and public sectors. From dark analytics to blockchain to machine intelligence and beyond, the time to start exploring this fast-paced world—and harnessing the value it promises—is now. In this rapidly changing, kinetic environment, effective organizations are embracing changes in technology to reinvent and revitalize themselves. As in the past, we seek to shed light on the anticipated level of government relevance and readiness for each trend:


Because government organizations are diverse, broad, and complex, our scoring of relevance and readiness is designed to represent overall patterns. We incorporate real-world examples and key considerations to help organizations get started. Our goal is to support leaders with practical ways not only to do familiar things differently, but also to do fundamentally different things.

Relevance and Readiness Scale:

We looked at each trend and assigned a value from one (low) to five (high) based on the trend’s relevance and readiness of government adoption.

Relevance: How impactful would it be if the government adopted the trend?
Readiness: How ready is the government to adopt the trend?

IT unbounded

Breaking down silos across IT. Shifting IT’s focus to driving innovation and business strategy. This is IT unbounded—a reimagining of IT development, operations, and interactions. Evolutionary strategies include collaborating with external partners, improving efficiency through automation and DevOps, and creating multifunctional teams that combine IT and business.

Getting started

  • Build on past success. An unbounded IT organization does not have to reinvent the wheel—it can build on previous transformation efforts.
  • Break down walls. Reduce friction by removing historic boundaries. Embed tech personnel in business teams to bring IT closer to the business.

Trends in action

In 2016, the state of Illinois consolidated its IT functions into one agency designed to accelerate technology modernization, centralize IT decisions and spending, and develop new statewide IT solutions that take a 360-degree view of a resident or business. The goal: reduce inefficiencies and costs to taxpayers.

Dark analytics

Unstructured data sources such as documents, video, tickets, texts, and tweets that remain in the “dark” represent tremendous opportunity. Advances in natural language processing and machine learning can tap these sources to target needs and better use precious resources. To reap the benefits, organizations will likely need skilled talent, resources to acquire tools, and priorities to focus this lens where it can help the most.

Getting started

  • Analytics as business strategy. Start with the business and mission imperative. Identify the value and ROI. Don’t be a technology solution in search of a business problem.
  • Look outside. Help with dark analytics may come from other organizations, new talent, or publicly available information.

Trends in action

A government financial regulator was drowning under the weight of text and email correspondence. To improve responsiveness and better target problems, the agency developed tools to quickly analyze its text data and uncover key trends. This continual stream of insight has allowed the agency to better serve its constituents at lower cost.

Machine intelligence: Beyond bots and RPA

Machine learning, cognitive analytics, robotics process automation (RPA), and bots—collectively, these and other artificial intelligence technologies constitute machine intelligence. They’re advancing rapidly and have the increasing potential to enhance citizen engagement, automate workloads, and increase workplace productivity.

Getting started

  • Conquer data challenges. Machine intelligence technologies can be applied to data to drive analyses, identify relationships, and uncover anomalies.
  • Get smart. Artificial intelligence technology’s rapid evolution makes it hard to keep up. Learn the components to help you make purposeful investments to drive value.

Trends in action

Redwood City, CA, is launching a new robotic delivery system designed to cut down on the city's traffic congestion. At first, the small robots will be controlled remotely by humans. But over time, the machines are designed to gather enough information to build 3D maps of the neighborhoods they operate in and work autonomously.

Mixed reality

Virtual is virtual and real is real—except in mixed reality, where the two worlds collide to create new environments where digital and physical objects—and their data—coexist and interact. Think Pokémon Go. Using augmented and virtual reality and the Internet of Things, mixed reality adds intelligence and digital content to the space around us. This natural experience can help users make decisions quickly, process critical information, visualize scenarios before acting, or communicate with others.

Getting started

  • Pilot it. Mixed reality may sound like science fiction. To get past that, pilot the technologies, debunk myths, and learn where it is most useful.
  • Start somewhere. Invest where you can make improvements today. Mixed reality’s early investments have centered on learning, communication, collaboration, and customer service.

Trends in action

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has developed augmented reality glasses with built-in sensors that can send critical data to warfighters on the battlefield. Without losing situational awareness, a Marine can see the vital statistics of his comrades, view live video feed, and push out alerts and commands to soldiers.

digital technology room

Inevitable architecture

Automated, flexible, open, virtual, cloud-native—these are IT attributes associated with today’s most innovative companies and organizations. Integrating those concepts can be a tall order for government organizations, but they can help drive efficiency, lower costs, and enhance outcomes. Moving from the current state to cloud-native will involve strategic choices made over time.

Getting started

  • Start the journey. Technology is advancing rapidly. Pick capabilities and get started. Fail fast and adjust.
  • Anticipate resistance. If no one is resisting the change, you’re likely not going far enough.
  • Find a guide. Whether it comes from inside or out, getting help can save you from falling into old traps.

Trends in action

The state of Louisiana has laid the foundation to integrate IT systems, maximize reusability, and share data across agencies. Using automated, open, and software-defined approaches, the state deployed public/enterprise cloud services and consolidated data center services. Progress in these areas has positively impacted operations, breaking down silos in service delivery and removing barriers between teams.

robotic arms


Leading CIOs are transforming existing systems into services and platforms for use inside and outside their organizations. This everything-as-a-service approach casts a new light on core modernization, broadening the effort to create new operational models and modes of service delivery. The results can create better efficiencies and new ways to engage constituents. That means more work today, but it also means better mission support tomorrow.

Getting started

  • From system to service. How can existing systems offer new value to users and constituents? The answer could lie in reaching across organizational boundaries or creating something new.
  • Phase it in. XaaS is transformative, combining complex technology change with new ways of working. Measured steps will add confidence to the process.

Trends in action

In the past, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would develop a custom solution for every new tax form. In order to improve efficiency and cut costs, the IRS developed reusable, Java-based data processing services that can be used for future development projects and forms. As progress is made, other IT and business partners are requesting to use the same services.

hands opening a box

Blockchain: Trust economy

Blockchain, the shared-ledger technology for securely managing digital assets, is becoming the gatekeeper of reputation and identity. Just as banks use technology to certify someone’s identity, leading organizations are using blockchain to establish trust or exchange assets between parties—and the most promising use case is digital contracting.

Getting started

  • Measure twice, cut once. There is a lot of hype surrounding blockchain. Make sure your problem is well suited to blockchain before starting.
  • Party of...many. Particularly for applications involving digital identity, it helps to think of use cases involving groups or consortia.
  • Keep up. Even if you are not using blockchain, the parties you monitor and work with may soon be. Pay attention as the technology evolves.

Trends in action

The state of Delaware is exploring blockchain to ease the registration of new companies. The state may soon move that process, as well as tracking share movements and managing shareholder communications, into a shared public digital environment.

vault door

Exponentials watch list

Over the next three to five years, expect accelerated use cases and early adoption around nanotechnologies, energy systems, biotechnology, and quantum technologies. Many government organizations might take a “wait and see” approach for these exponential technologies, but there can be value in learning about their future applications through pilots.

Getting started

  • Stepwise approach. Exponentials adoption is a journey that starts with purposeful steps—from research, to experimentation, and implementation.
  • Eyes on the prize. Focus on end goals, but be flexible in implementation. No one knows the journey to the potential outcomes yet. 

Trends in action

Quantum computing has large implications for cybersecurity. Its power and lightning speed have the potential to break public-key encryption or digital signatures already in use. To prepare, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working on "quantum-resistant" algorithms that future quantum computers won’t be able to break. NIST will crowdsource the solution and work with the public to devise and vet methods designed to be resistant to future quantum threats.

DNA strand in the sun


1. The State of Illinois, Office of the Governor. 2016. Governor Consolidates Illinois’ Information Technology into New Agency [Press release]. Retrieved from

2. Zhang, Cici. (2017, January 27). Robotic Food Delivery is Rolling into the United States in February. Retrieved from

3. Rosenblum, Andrew. (2015, April 22). Augmented Reality Glasses are Coming to the Battlefield. Retrieved from

4. Deloitte Insights. (2017). Inevitable architecture. Tech Trends 2017: The kinetic enterprise. Retrieved from

5. Deloitte Insights. (2017). Everything-as-a-service. Tech Trends 2017: The kinetic enterprise. Retrieved from

6. Deloitte Insights. (2017). Blockchain: Trust economy. Tech Trends 2017: The kinetic enterprise. Retrieved from

7. National Institute of Standards and Technology. (2016). NIST Kicks Off Effort to Defend Encrypted Data from Quantum Computer Threat. Retrieved from

Discover more about the report on Deloitte Insights

As with each edition of our annual Deloitte Insights Tech trends report, this is part of an ongoing discussion in an ever-evolving field. Our goal is to provide you with pointers to better engage with constituents, make informed decisions, and do more with less. We hope these ideas will help inform and guide your thinking as you explore opportunities to innovate and improve.

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