How to Make “Cloud First” work for Government Agencies

There continues to be challenges with budget constraints and legacy systems in all levels of government. Consolidation efforts are increasing, as are the requests to share services with other agencies to increase efficiency. The rising demand from citizens for enhancements like self-service continues to be a driving force for change as well. These requests may be familiar to you as you look to the cloud to create a more citizen-centric communication environment. What criteria should you look for in a new communication solution?

Moving to the cloud for call center communications gives increased flexibility and faster deployment time making it easier for IT to focus on their mission critical day-to-day tasks. Finding a highly geographically dispersed solution lowers the risk of an outage and offers higher availability for operations and call centers.

Sure, there are concerns when considering a move to the cloud so it’s important that you do your homework to make sure you’re choosing the right vendor. Here are my top questions to ask during vendor evaluation:

1. Can you meet my security needs? How will you protect my data and help me maintain compliance?
2. How can I be assured that you will have services available?
3. Who is contractually responsible for assuming risk?

Good cloud providers will deliver a higher level of security and resiliency, in fact more than you might be able to afford in your own environment. Staffing, facilities, equipment, software and 24/7 coverage can be quite costly and difficult to manage. The vendor should have a dedicated security team – that is their only job – to protect a highly specialized network. Offering “best in class” data protection is a good providers’ goal.

You want to be sure that when valuable data is given to the provider that the provider assumes liability, risks and is contractually bound to provide those things. You must be able to ensure accountability of who is legally responsible. Cloud suppliers want to provide service at a reasonable cost and minimize risk and exposure.

At the end of the day, information security threats facing companies are becoming more complex every day. Every company, some more than others, are exposed to advanced threats. Government, finance and utilities are at the top of the list. The cloud provider you choose should have state-of-the-art tools to constantly monitor the solution to mitigate risk.

How can you be sure that the vendor meets these criteria? A third-party audit may give you peace of mind that the provider meets your specific requirements.

I’ve explored the topic of cloud opportunities for government in-depth in my recent whitepaper, “Cloud Communications and the Federal Government: Opportunities to Seize,” which I co-authored with Abdo Rabadi of Blue Kite Consultants. Have you already capitalized on the cloud? If so, I’d love to hear your story.

Giving citizens a better customer experience and potentially paying less tax dollars for it, is a good thing or as I say a great thing.

Mechele