In the early 1950s, my father flew a B-17 for the U.S. Navy. Although B-17s were originally used during bombing raids in World War II, the Navy refitted them into an aerial sonar platform that was the first-generation airborne warning and control system (AWACS).

Fast forward to earlier this year: The Texas Commemorative Air Force was hosting its Wings Over Dallas World War II airshow featuring a completely restored B-17. Research by my sister revealed that this restored B-17 wasn’t just like the aircraft our dad had flown over Hawaii or during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was the B-17.

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During the show, we had the privilege of taking a ride in that plane. In the way that only a former state CIO could, I found some interesting connections between that experience and government’s cloud journey. And, no, it wasn’t because I was flying in literal clouds. Rather, it reminded me of the importance of a strong pilot. 

Government IT leaders have always been at the helm of the journey to cloud. The pandemic put that journey into hyperdrive, providing evidence that states can fly farther and faster than many thought possible. I believe the pandemic provided a massive, real-world test that proved cloud services are a powerful tool for delivering more flexible, customer-centric public services.

The pandemic was a crisis—a set of circumstances every IT leader had to navigate through. But now there are opportunities to lead not in reaction to circumstances but by choice and with a clear sense of purpose.

Recent research by NASCIO and Accenture suggests there is still significant opportunity to journey farther with cloud. In fact, in our survey 89% of respondents reported that they still have a mainframe computer. What’s more, nearly three-quarters (71%) have not moved any mainframe applications to the cloud—a key step in enterprise cloud implementation.

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The pandemic was a crisis—a set of circumstances every IT leader had to navigate through. But now there are opportunities to lead not in reaction to circumstances but by choice and with a clear sense of purpose.

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How can you advance the journey in your state? Start by solidifying your understanding of the cloud service delivery model. Determine what outcomes and benefits matter for your organization. Then plan the journey to transform your organization into a cloud operating model.

Often-touted benefits of cloud services include cost savings, increased innovation, increased security and cost-effective scalability to meet surging demand, to name a few. But in almost all cases, any organization’s ability to realize these outcomes is challenged most by how well it can transform the way people within the organization work.

Just as the Navy refitted the Army’s B-17s, state governments now face the need to “refit” how they operate.

To maximize the benefits of cloud, you’ll need:

  1. Top-down commitment to modernize to the cloud. Research has shown that organizations that maximize the value of their investment in the cloud have full and complete support from the executive team. This aligns the organizational thinking about the flight plan!
  2. Commitment to reskilling and educating the workforce to operate in a cloud operating model. It’s not just a lift and shift of technology; it’s transforming your organization—people, process AND technology—to take full advantage of what the cloud delivery model allows.
  3. Commitment to changing business processes to take full advantage of the agility the cloud offers. Doing business the way you always have—including relying on CapEx budgeting—will not get your organization to the next level. Your organization must emulate a nimble, agile fighter jet that can turn in an instant to seize opportunity (and avoid danger).

Like the B-17 in its time, cloud services are one of today’s greatest innovations. The pandemic was an extended test flight. Now, how will you soar even higher?

Connect with me on LinkedIn and stay tuned for upcoming blogs.


This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. This document refers to marks owned by third parties.  All such third-party marks are the property of their respective owners.  No sponsorship, endorsement or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended, expressed or implied.

Todd Kimbriel

Managing Director – Public Service, North America

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