Exponential Government: Optimistic Realism

Graphic of 3D Network Groundhog with text reading "Optimistic Realism: A Groundhog Day Tradition. What 2020 means for exponential government. Direct Technology logo

Optimistic Realism: A Groundhog Day Tradition

Punxsutawney Phil isn’t the only beloved character to make an annual appearance and forecast the future. Davood Ghods, Public Sector Prognosticator, once again pronounces Direct Technology’s pragmatic Groundhog Day predictions.

Our outlook is grounded in Optimistic Realism, the third characteristic of Exponential Leadership by Ismail (series overview page): “Leaders who are able to articulate a positive outcome through any scenario, even downside scenarios, will be able to help maintain objectivity within their teams.” This is particularly important in assessing and planning technology enablement for government agencies.

  1. Augmented Intelligence

While AI traditionally has meant Artificial Intelligence, AI is meant to assist humans in their daily lives. We believe Augmented Intelligence enhances human capability rather than replaces it. We predict more automation and greater use of AI to help solve difficult social problems such as educating homeless youth about HIV and AIDS in Los Angeles (VIDEO).

  1. Autonomous Things

We see a lot of investment in innovation for autonomous things. From a local perspective, City of Sacramento is investing heavily in smart traffic management.

  1. Blockchain

Tracking & Records Management

California, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, and NY are considering blockchain to help manage state records. In addition, Delaware recently awarded a contract to design the electronic distributed ledger, which will be based on the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain framework.  Some practical uses of blockchain are:

Digital Identity

“Digital identity is the ability to prove an individual’s identity via any government digital channel that is available to citizens. It is critical for inclusion and access to government services….Government CIOs must provision digital identities that uphold both security imperatives and citizen expectations.” Gartner, Oct 2019

  • Blockchain voting app (Denver, Colorado ran pilot for Blockchain Voting through Smart phones to allow Voters Cross Border, Active Military Members to cast Vote using Voatz – a blockchain mobile app.)
  • Swiss Government Using uPort to Register Zug Citizens.  Citizens of Zug, have their own digital, decentralized, sovereign identity. This identity can be used to take part in all government related activities like casting vote, proving identity, etc.


  1. Continued Cloud Adoption and Anything as a Service (XaaS)

You might not think of the cloud as a new trend anymore but the 2019 Gartner CIO Survey found that 39% of government organizations plan to invest the lion’s share of new or additional funding on cloud services  “XaaS covers the full range of IT services delivered in the cloud,” according to Gartner. “The XaaS model offers an alternative to legacy infrastructure modernization, provides scalability and reduces time to deliver digital government at scale.

  1. Data Insights and Innovation (including Privacy):

Public sector entities will spend time and effort in 2020 and beyond to figure out how to provide constituents "useable and digestible information and help public and private organizations understand and navigate laws and regulations concerning protected data; and put in place human-centered design principles in the development of programs and services.”

  • The California Consumer Privacy Act aims to give consumers more control over their personal data at a time when breaches are rampant and personal information is mined, sold and used in ways consumers have little say over. Florida recently followed with a proposed bill seeks to take similar steps for consumer data privacy, showing that the CA bill is the harbinger of similar measures that we will see across the country in 2020.
  • Transparency/Traceability may not be a “new” trend for data insights, but it’s one that is still hot and will require constant evaluation and updated as the availability of and demand for data increases.
  • Additional goals will include improving data use, the use of linked data to drive policy and decisions, and knowledge management in policy areas.


  1. Increased Funding and Activity in Cybersecurity

Recent cyber-attacks to cities and municipalities has made this a top priority in spending for local, state and, federal government. We believe this will be an area that will see a greater focus in 2020 and beyond.

  1. Accessibility

This may be farfetched, but we’re going out on a limb and declare this a trend for 2020 and beyond.  There is a lot of attention on Accessibility after the passing of Assembly Bill 434 in California and after Domino’s Pizza and Beyonce’s company were sued for not having an accessible website. State legislatures outside California are now heavily discussing Accessibility and there could even be a federal law soon.  One thing is for sure:  public sector is spending a lot of their funding to make sure their websites and documents are accessible.

The topic of Accessibility is a priority for many agencies in early 2020 as many private sector organizations are commissioned for document and web remediation, getting organizations up to standards. Once compliant, public agencies will need to train their employees to stay up to standards – that’s where a company like Direct Technology comes in. See our Digital Accessibility page to learn how we can help.

  1. Legacy Modernization and Digital Government:

This is another one of those trends that has been in the works for the last few years, but public sector will continue to spend funding to enhance, renovate, and replace legacy platforms and improve business processes in 2020 and beyond.  The solicitations coming out of California DMV are a good example.

Customer/citizen experience will remain a hot button. In CA, DMV is the prime example of where improvement is mandated. But for any public agency, scrutiny is constant on how quick and satisfied the customer is after a transaction. The push to digitize as much of the experience to keep customers from having to come into an office building is part of the equation.

5G Expansion

One recent advancement key to many of the innovations above, as well as accessibility for underserved communities, is the roll-out of 5G. Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento have led the way in deploying the world’s first commercial 5G networks. Verizon credited “forward-looking state policy and local leaders who embraced innovation and developed a strategic vision for how 5G could be a platform to attract new investment, businesses and next generation services for residents.”


At Direct Technology, we’re optimistic about the ways advances in technology will accelerate innovation to the public sector. We’re also realistic about the need to assess, prioritize and create a roadmap that balances customer-centric innovation with fiscal stewardship. In 2020, we will continue our focus on “the human side of technology,” accelerating technology assessments, modernization roadmaps, cloud migrations, and data-driven applications that provide real, measurable impact for constituents.

Do you forecast changes ahead for your government agency or organization? A great place to start is with an Accessibility Assessment that ensures your organization serves ALL its customers.

Learn how Direct Technology can bring you closer to the human side, more on our GovSolutions page

Cloud Migration is the process of moving an organization’s data, applications, resources, and workloads from hosted servers in data centers or on-premise, to a cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud technology saves your organization money by improving efficiency, security, scalability, and mobility.

Many of the apps and services we use in our daily lives are hosted in the cloud, like SharePoint, Microsoft 365, Gmail, and Slack. In addition, there are various cloud services available for businesses and public organizations today, including Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and AWS.

How else does cloud migration affect business? Check out these stats:


Cloud services allow organizations to mitigate risk, keep down costs, leverage a sustainable future, improve productivity, and stay competitive in a fast-paced digital world.

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Episode 4 in a 7-Part Series on Thriving in the Age of Exponential Growth