Skip to main content

Are governments ready for digital transformation?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

A new report, which Thales helped to compile, sets out in detail the progress made by governments in 32 tech areas – from chatbots to decentralized identity.

Over the last 10 years or so, big organisations have been urged to embrace new customer-facing and backend digital technologies. Still, achieving this so-called digital transformation is far from straightforward. It’s difficult even for the most tech-friendly enterprise. 

But for governments the task is so much more challenging. There are added pressures due to budgetary restraints, skills shortages and some departmental resistance to change. 

Of course, the pandemic left governments with little choice. Face to face interaction was slashed to a minimum. And yet the demand for state-provided services scaled higher than ever. COVID measures forced governments around the world to use technology to address urgent needs such as:

•    Delivering critical services from dispersed locations
•    Tracking human interactions and the spread of COVID-19 infections
•    Ensuring distance learning/training for students and employees

But even though the pandemic accelerated government adoption of digital services, those structural barriers remain. Adoption remains patchy.

According to Gartner® ,“60 percent of governments will have tripled citizen digital services by 2023, but fewer than 25 percent will be integrated across organizational silos.”

So what needs to change? And how fast is this change taking place?
Thales just took part in a major survey run by Gartner to find out. 
The  Hype Cycle™ for Digital Government Technology 2021 report itemises 32 technological areas that governments need to tackle as they accelerate towards digital transformation.

These technologies are all at different stages of readiness. How ready? Well, Gartner has a well-established and user-friendly tool for illustrating this timeline, which it calls the ‘Hype Cycle’.

Every Gartner Hype Cycle diagram shows the five stages that a tech goes through as it moves from creation to mass adoption:

•    Innovation trigger
•    Peak of I nflated Expectations
•    Trough of Disillusionment
•    Slope of Enlightenment
•    Plateau of Productivity

On this Hype Cycle graphic, viewers can see at a glance where the 32 tech areas sit in terms of adoption.

The report argues that some technologies can deliver immediate benefits. For example, it says, “chatbots and low-code applications… should be viewed as quick wins.”   

Conversely, others will take much longer to repay their investment. In this latter group are ideas such as citizen twins and machine customers.

So let’s take a closer look at what Gartner says about a few of the key technologies that governments need to embrace, and see how ‘ready’ governments are to implement them.


Benefit Rating: High
Market Penetration: More than 50% of target audience
Maturity: Early mainstream

“Chatbots are the face of AI and will impact all areas with communication between machines and humans. Customer service is an area where chatbots are already very influential and will have a great impact on the number  of service agents employed by an enterprise and how customer service is conducted...COVID-19 has accelerated adoption of chatbots, and vendors seem to have ‘cracked the code’ on operationalization.”

Citizen identity wallets

Benefit Rating: High
Market Penetration: Less than 1% of target audience
Maturity: Adolescent

Identity wallets enable an individual citizen to store, manage and selectively disclose identity-related data from different sources and for different purposes... Citizen-oriented use cases involve government as verifier of identity data when providing a service, or as issuer of identity data stored in a wallet. There is significant confusion and variation with citizen identity wallets today, ranging from walled-garden mobile ID apps to open, standards-based wallets that enable decentralized or self-sovereign identity.”

Health passes

Benefit Rating: Transformational
Market Penetration: 20% to 50% of target audience
Maturity: Emerging

“A health pass provides a digital means to verify an individual’s health status against set criteria defined by the verifying enterprise. These solutions access trusted sources to verify credentials the output of which is an indicator of adherence to the criteria. By exploiting a health pass, governments should be able to reopen more efficiently while still complying with controls intended to reduce the risks from COVID-19. They are also more likely to be able to control a subsequent surge.”

Citizen twins

Benefit Rating: High
Market Penetration: Less than 1% of target audience
Maturity: Embryonic

“A digital twin of a citizen is a digital representation of an individual... data comes from siloed sources such as health records, credit scores, phone location logs, criminal records, customer 360 records and infrastructure such as cameras. National, state and local governments use citizen twins to support citizen services such as health or safety management.”

Digital twins in government

Benefit Rating: High
Market Penetration: 1% to 5% of target audience
Maturity: Emerging

“A digital twin of government is a virtual representation of government and partner assets, people and operations to provide real-time analysis, operations automation and scenario-based planning... (It) provides a single interface to the operations of a jurisdiction, and are starting to be used by governments around the globe. Governments will use digital twins to better orchestrate citizen services and other digital services, and even manage crises, such as pandemic protection.”

Decentralized identity

Benefit Rating: Transformational
Market Penetration: 1% to 5% of target audience
Maturity: Emerging

“Isolated digital identities will not scale with the needs of digital business. Online and mobile identities continue to be in a fragmented state due to service providers (banks, retailers, social networks, etc.) forcing consumers to create individual identities for each and every service. Decentralized identity (DCI) leverages technologies such as blockchain to allow an entity to create and control its own digital identity. DCI offers an alternative approach that does not have the security, privacy and usability issues associated with traditional, fragmented, digital identity approaches.”

Blockchain in Government

Benefit Rating: High
Market Penetration: 5% to 20% of target audience
Maturity: Emerging

“Blockchain in government services are built on cryptographically signed transactional records. Blockchain can reshape government services by providing a transparent, authoritative transaction record and reduced friction across multi-stakeholder ecosystems... Government is more cautious in blockchain adoption than industries like financial services, utilities and insurance. Much ROI, therefore, lies in building internal capacities and capabilities, and gauging potential impacts of wider adoption in government.”

Authenticated provenance

Benefit Rating: High
Market Penetration: Less than 1% of target audience
Maturity: Emerging

“Today, authenticated provenance largely relies on manual audits or human trust. That is certainly not scalable. Human fact checkers cannot keep up with the volume of fake content and do not have the technological resources to do so. Authenticated provenance represents the authentication of assets that can be recorded and tracked on the blockchain. Gartner believes that authentication provenance will be in more demand in the coming years, as users adopt blockchain for provenance applications. These users will become increasingly aware of the need to digitally ‘certify’ the first mile.”

Sovereign cloud

Benefit Rating: Transformational
Market Penetration: 1% to 5% of target audience
Maturity: Emerging

Sovereign cloud is the provision of cloud services within a single geography that meets data residency and legislative requirements. It ensures that data remains free from external jurisdiction control and provides protection from foreign legislatively enforced access... the public sector recognizes the value of the digital economy and seeks to develop infrastructure and ecosystems capable of delivering a digital citizen experience while maintaining autonomy.”

Document-centric identity proofing in government

Benefit Rating: Moderate
Market Penetration: 1% to 5% of target audience
Maturity: Early mainstream

“DCIP, informally ‘ID plus selfie’, aims to verify an identity claim in a remote transaction. It does this through two activities: confirming the existence of real-world identity by capturing an image of an official identity document or reading its chip, and checking for signs of forgery; confirming the claimant is present and the legitimate bearer of the identity document by capturing and comparing a live image to the document. DCIP had been adopted by some governments prior to the pandemic and has accelerated since then to provide remote services to citizens who had not previously signed up for an official digital identity scheme.”

The above is just a snapshot of the Hype Cycle for Digital Government Technology 2021 report. The full text outlines in detail the drivers and obstacles for each of the 32 technological areas. It also offers recommendations, Sample Vendors and recommended further reading.

To read the report, click here

Gartner , Hype Cycle for Digital Government Technology, 2021, By Alia Mendonsa, Published 21 July 2021

Gartner and Hype Cycle are registered trademarks of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.