Governments collect more data than any other type of entity on the planet, yet their ability to use data to serve citizens more effectively has always been limited. Regulatory compliance, budgetary constraints, reliance on legacy systems and internal resistance to change all play a role. That’s why when it comes to adopting new technologies, public agencies tend to lag behind the private sector by 18 to 24 months—and often longer.
In the future, we expect to see that adoption lag time begin to shrink due to the surge of large language models (LLMs) and the enormous potential of generative AI. The undeniable efficiencies presented by AI, coupled with changes in policy guidance and public sentiment, will likely compel government and education organizations to embrace new technologies more quickly than at any time in recent memory.
To learn more about the impact AI and other developments are expected to have on the public sector this year, we sat down with our Snowflake industry and technology experts. For their full insights, read the new report, Public Sector Data + AI Predictions 2024.
Here’s a quick look at just a few of their top industry predictions for 2024:
1. The public sector will embrace AI to solve long-term problems—eventually
The public sector will embrace AI to solve long-term problems, but adoption will be gradual. Governments face many challenges that could be addressed almost immediately by the effective application of AI solutions accompanied by the use of data management platforms. But to do so, they have to first address some important issues, such as the inability to respond quickly to citizen needs, data silos that hamper decision-making, and ever-increasing cybersecurity threats.
Effective data management, coupled with AI, has the power to unlock the information needed to serve the public good. For example, to inform policy decisions, an LLM-trained chatbot can tunnel through mountains of otherwise difficult-to-access social and economic data to locate answers quickly, and make them accessible to all—not just those with technical skills.
When the right people have equal access to data, decision-making can be democratized and determinations reached in near real time. And when managed in a single secure location, data can be more easily protected, ensuring that only the right people have access to it.
2. Agencies will accelerate cloud migration and adopt data management platforms
Before public agencies can take full advantage of AI, they will need to accelerate their cloud migrations and adopt the appropriate data management platforms. We expect cloud and multi-cloud adoption in the public sector to grow significantly due to pressure from constituents to adopt more consumer-friendly platforms and the compelling number of use cases for AI adoption.
“We’re going to see huge growth in technology modernization efforts by governments, driven by cost efficiency, policy and compliance issues,” says Jeff Frazier, Snowflake’s Global Industry GTM Lead for Public Sector.
This modernization strategy will center around investing in cloud-based data platforms to integrate and scale agencies’ data/technology stacks. Because the ability to take full advantage of generative AI tools requires clean, usable data, Frazier expects there to be a big focus on modern data platforms that enable agencies to ingest and manage large volumes of unstructured and semi-structured data.
With more effective data management platforms in place, gen AI and LLMs can help the public sector manage, organize and mobilize internal data in myriad ways to improve efficiency, solve problems, bridge the skills and talent gap, and deliver more effective services to their constituents.
“Data is a predicate for AI to be successful. Data acquisition and data management platforms will be high priorities for the public sector over the next two to three years.”Jeff Frazier, Snowflake’s Global Industry GTM Lead for Public Sector
3. Governments will leverage policy-making as they reach data maturity
As agencies gain expertise and experience in data management and AI, they will increasingly rely on it for data-driven decision-making. This will lead to greater democratization of the decision-making process within organizations.
This will be enabled in the U.S. federal government by SaaS solutions achieving FedRAMP (Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) certification. Frazier expects cloud-based software solutions that were once only accessible to private enterprise to increasingly become part of the public sector toolkit, allowing agencies to address problems previously unaddressable due to security and compliance issues.
The White House’s recently released Executive Order on Safe, Secure and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence helps clarify how agencies can legally and ethically employ AI to provide services to constituents, establishing appropriate guardrails and providing guidance for federal agencies.
At the same time, the U.S. Congress is considering making the adoption of multi-cloud solutions mandatory. “Mandating multi-cloud solutions will enhance the ability of different agencies to work together,” says Frazier. “There will be a lot more pressure put on proprietary business models to permit interoperability among platforms, which should make interagency data sharing and collaboration easier to achieve. I see this kind of legislation also happening in the EU, Asia Pacific and Latin America as well.”
For more predictions and insights, get the full report, Public Sector Data + AI Predictions 2024.