Procurement teams need to take a holistic approach when acquiring technology, says Bill Campbell, senior vice president of North America at Hexagon's Safety, Infrastructure & Geospatial Division. Hexagon offers a variety of digital reality solutions. Its products combine sensor, software and autonomous technologies. The firm puts data to work to boost efficiency, productivity, quality and safety across a variety of industries, including the public sector as well as mobility applications. Campbell's division works to improve the resilience and sustainability of global critical services and infrastructure.
"It's important for governments to know that they aren't just buying technology. They are also buying the experience and expertise of their vendors. These are often large and complex purchases of mission- and business-critical enterprise systems. On top of that, government agencies are modernizing legacy systems and digitally reinventing workflows," Campbell tells Co-op Solutions.
Campbell says buying technology has always been a complicated process, and recent changes in government processes are expanding the complexity. He adds: Cities and counties need to partner with proven experience to navigate the complicated, changing technology landscape. He says partners should offer specific experience in the relevant sector. "For example, 911 centers are very complex. You need a partner with very specific expertise to manage that complexity, who understands the challenges public safety agencies face, can adapt when needed and foresee what's on the horizon. This knowledge—alongside reliable technology—will save buyers time, money and many headaches in the long run."
Campbell says the public sector should be totally transparent as they acquire new kinds of technology. "As artificial intelligence, (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), devices and sensors, drones, data-sharing platforms, and other data-centric technologies become more commonplace in government, it's imperative that leaders are open with stakeholders on the front-end about what's being deployed and how it's being used. Getting feedback and buy-in from the internal and external community beforehand can lead to more successful initiatives down the road."
He adds that as solutions become more data-centric, agencies need to think through the uses and ramifications of that data. "For example, the demand for multiple types of real-time data, such as video, text and sensors, will only increase. Having the internal solutions to provide ongoing storage, analysis and protection of that data will grow in importance." His conclusion: Protecting against today's cyber-threats is no longer enough; anticipating tomorrow's hazards is also imperative.
Campbell believes cities and counties should closely scrutinize prospective vendors on tech procurements. "Do they have what you need today, and have they planned for the future? Do they have clear roadmaps for on-premise-to-cloud transitions? Do they have capabilities for integrating new innovations, for dealing with new industry and regulatory challenges and so on? Those answers should guide buying decisions."
Campbell says governments are facing challenges that were unheard of just a few decades ago. These include an increasing number of cyber-threats, soaring maintenance costs of legacy IT systems, new requirements in regulatory compliance, and a workforce that is undergoing change; this workforce also has a different relationship with technology than older tech-users.