May 18 2023
Data Analytics

Q&A: Oracle Public Sector’s David Knox Forecasts Trends in State and Local Government

The practice’s group vice president identifies developments in artificial intelligence, cloud, cybersecurity and more.

David Knox is the group vice president for Oracle Public Sector. He's a highly regarded technologist with extensive knowledge of cybersecurity and data management.

Knox is a leader at Oracle and in the public sector technology community, so StateTech asked him to forecast trends in state and local government for the coming years. With decades of technology leadership experience, Knox emphasized the growing importance of artificial intelligence and data analysis.

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STATETECH: What do you see as the big technology trends impacting state and local governments in the next year?

KNOX: I see three big trends: One is the continued incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The second is security and compliance standards. The third is multicloud and hybrid cloud architectures.

We’ve seen AI/ML continue to be game-changing technology. Chatbots and ChatGPT are quickly showing their value, and the capabilities are far more than what people first thought. Taking advantage of AI/ML to reduce costs through automation and time savings will be a top initiative.

State governments are under increasing pressure to ensure the security and privacy of citizen data. This has led to a growing focus by governments to make sure that their cloud providers meet the highest standards of security and compliance. States are quickly adopting federal security standards such as StateRAMP versions of FedRAMP. While good in concept, the challenge will be in avoiding the byproducts of such sweeping requirements that create significant delays in operationalizing new systems, as well as the additional costs associated with developing, deploying and enforcing these requirements.

Lastly, agencies have become hyperfocused on having multiple platforms that make it easy to integrate and share data without loss of performance. Multicloud platforms that are secure, simple to use and keep integration tight will become the top choice for all public sector agencies.

STATETECH: Are cloud resources necessary to make the best use of AI? How can state and local governments benefit from hiring AI officers?

KNOX: Cloud resources are not necessary, but probably are preferred. AI/ML benefits with access to large data sets, parallel computing for training models and executing their workloads. This is very important in completing tasks such as anomaly detection and fraud detection, two top areas of interest in government.

As a result, having an AI officer to focus on understanding technology capabilities in order to map them to state services and missions will be valuable. I expect we will see the AI officer role continue to grow in importance and relevance and subsequently spread throughout state and local governments to areas where the role is much needed but not yet fulfilled.

STATETECH: How can state and local governments best benefit from public-private partnerships?

KNOX: Public-private partnerships can be a powerful tool for state and local governments to leverage private sector resources, expertise and innovation to improve public services and infrastructure. As customers push government agencies to manage and connect disparate platforms, the public sector is leaning more on the industry to help simplify the complexity of technology issues, especially cloud computing. The result will be an expanded number of partnerships between government agencies and private sector companies. 

STATETECH: How can governments make the most out of data?

KNOX: Data is one of an organization’s most valuable assets, but only when the organization is intentional about making it so. Investing time in data governance strategies is time well spent. It’s not simply about security and privacy, although those two issues are nonnegotiable requirements. Data format standards, data integration and data sharing are key to building a solid foundation and doing this in a well-thought-out, well-proven manner is an essential tenet to making data useful.

The goal in extracting value from data is to use it to inform key decision-makers about what has happened, what is happening, what should happen, what could happen and what the outcome will be. A practical approach to this would be in creating or utilizing a Data as a Service construct. DaaS providers can offer a wide range of data services, including data storage, data integration, data quality management, data analytics and data visualization. They can also provide users with access to data from multiple sources, including public and private data sources, allowing users to gain insights that may not be possible with a single data source. Overall, DaaS can provide governments with access to high-quality data, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, scalability, timely access to data and improved decision-making. As a result, DaaS can be a valuable tool for governments looking to make data-driven decisions and improve their overall performance.

STATETECH: How will upskilling and reskilling play a role for government workers?

KNOX: There will be a mindset shift among government technology workers. Adoption of cloud architecture requires human workers to relinquish a certain amount of control, which is hard to do.

However, as more agencies adopt cloud technology, we will see more workers relinquish that control and, in turn, be trained on new skills that will enable them to do more interesting, creative work and help the company operate more efficiently. In addition, there will be a focus on upskilling and reskilling the workforce. As they shift to hybrid and cloud architecture, government agencies will need to be able to attract and retain new employees with the necessary skill sets to work with these new technologies. Because they won’t be able to hire enough workers, thanks in part to economic conditions, leaders will need to focus on retraining a portion of their workforce to be savvier in operating cloud architectures.

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