This post is the third in a series on digital transformation and its implications and benefits for state and local government agencies and programs.

Particularly for state and local government agencies and programs with budget constraints, a common concern about any new computing technology is cost. A Deloitte survey on barriers to digital transformation in government showed that two stood out:

  • Insufficient funding
  • Too many competing priorities

It’s no surprise that government IT decision-makers want to know, “How much will this cost?” Even in the case of digital transformation technologies, which are widely recognized for their huge potential to save money, getting the green light often requires documenting the expected cost benefits and time to value.

As a side note, the consulting firm McKinsey calculated the economic impact of digital transformation for 10 industry sectors, finding savings that ranged from 3 percent of total costs in grocery retailing to 20 percent in retail banking.

Fortunately for government organizations, digital transformation solutions can deliver significant returns on investment across the board, from higher worker productivity to better utilization of existing network bandwidth. For example, the State of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection plans to use mobile applications to double the productivity of its field inspectors working to protect air, soil and water, aiming to mirror the success of the state’s Department of Transportation with mobile technology.

How digital transformation saves money

Secure digital workspace technologies offer some of the greatest opportunities for cost savings. These include application and desktop virtualization, mobile device and application management, cloud services, and network optimization. They all play a role in delivering resources to workers and constituents located anywhere, using any type of device, with greater speed, scalability, reliability and performance than is possible using traditional methods, whether that’s a manual paper-based process or distributed PCs.

Let’s consider these four technologies in turn, and explore the different ways they can cut costs, while improving IT capabilities and driving greater efficiency and agility for the organization.

Application & Desktop Virtualization

Virtualization cuts the costs of computing hardware and IT administration by centralizing applications and desktops in the datacenter and delivering them over the network to just about any type of device. Centralized software management lightens the load on IT teams because they longer have to visit each worker’s desktop to perform software installs and updates.

Budget benefits:

  • Government agencies can significantly extend the useful life of older PCs, or replace them with inexpensive thin clients or other low-cost devices, such as Google Chromebooks or new Microsoft Windows 10S-based devices.
  • Smaller, leaner IT teams can handle expanding workloads and additional users thanks to centralized management capabilities that boost their efficiency.
  • Issues with compatibility can be resolved through virtualization, eliminating costly updates or rewrites of mission-critical applications.

Case example: County libraries

California’s Orange County Community Resources, the umbrella organization for government agencies that directly serve county citizens, includes an IT group that provides shared services to the library system and other entities. When the time came to refresh the library system’s 850 public-access PCs, the IT group opted for desktop and application virtualization with XenDesktop and XenApp. By repurposing existing PCs as thin clients, the IT team avoided a planned $1.2 million refresh. Read the full customer story.

Mobile Device & Application Management

The main economic benefit of a mobile workforce is higher productivity. When people can access and work with applications, documents and data in the field, at a client’s home or while traveling, they can accomplish more, while avoiding wasted time and delays that add up quickly.

Cost advantages:

  • Agencies save money on travel back and forth to the office by enabling field workers to complete documentation and reports on the scene, using their mobile device.
  • Caseworkers, inspectors and other employees can handle more clients or assignments in a day when they are able to streamline processes with mobile applications.
  • Secure data sharing provides the ability to share files with employees and citizens without the need to maintain costly file transfer infrastructure or distribute media (CDs or flash drives).

Case example: Sheriff’s department

California’s San Diego Sheriff’s Department needed to give its officers mobile access to applications and records databases while on the road. To support secure, virtual delivery of resources on mobile devices, the department selected two Citrix products: FIPS-compliant NetScaler application delivery controllers to optimize performance and availability of apps and data; and XenMobile for configuration and management of any mobile device platform.

Cloud Services

Transitioning on-premises infrastructure to the cloud can slash capital expenses for hardware and software, while reducing or eliminating management responsibilities for IT staff. Even a hybrid cloud environment, where a portion of the infrastructure remains in the datacenter, can have a positive impact on cost.

Attesting to their importance, cloud services are number 3 on the NASCIO State CIO Top Ten Policy and Technology Priorities list for 2017.

Cloud economics:

  • Instead of coping with large and sometimes unexpected capital outlays for new servers, software or networking equipment, government agencies can subscribe to a cloud hosting service for a set fee.
  • There is no longer a need to over-provision the datacenter in anticipation of usage spikes, because the cloud service can scale up seamlessly.
  • Costs associated with software upgrades can be eliminated – and downtime caused by older versions can be minimized – by relying on automatic updates in the cloud.

Case example: Public housing authority

Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority (LMHA) provides safe, affordable housing to more than 17,000 people in the Toledo, Ohio, area. Facing an aging IT infrastructure, LMHA decided against investing in expensive new servers, and turned to virtual app and desktop services on Microsoft Azure Government. By switching to Citrix Cloud, LMHA no longer has to own or manage servers, which has lifted a huge burden from its limited budget. Read the complete case study.

Networking optimization

With the increase in multimedia applications used in government functions (GPS for transportation, CAD for public works, videos for training), demands on network bandwidth are rising – along with costs. Another major impact on networking capacity is the Internet of Things, and the many connected devices and sensors being used to link patients and providers, for example. Optimizing network traffic with an application delivery controller (ADC) such as NetScaler can make the most of existing bandwidth resources.

  • It can avoid productivity losses when an unreliable network holds back the performance of enterprise apps across locations.
  • It can eliminate unnecessary costs associated with MPLS lines, redundant connections and wasted capacity.
  • When agencies switch to broadband to save money, an ADC can improve control, traffic engineering and performance.

The next post on digital transformation in state and local government will focus on IT solutions that help you attract, hire and retain the next generation of talented workers.

For more information, visit our Government Briefing Center and explore through a self-led, virtual experience how Citrix is helping drive digital transformation in government.