Cloud computing, data analytics and agile development will be the trends to watch in 2012 according to Ovum.

In a new report (2012 Trends to Watch: Government Technology), the independent technology analyst firm claims that next year will be the year that governments turn to cloud computing, data analytics and agile development to respond to times of austerity.

Dr Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum research director and co-author of the report, commented: "Cloud computing is maturing as a revolutionary step change in the way computing can be sourced and managed. Governments need to look beyond the hype and see the reality of both the opportunities and risks of cloud computing and factor these into both their industry development policies and their internal IT strategies."

The report finds that other key government technology trends in 2012 will include an explosion of interest in data analytics. Ovum analyst and co-author Nishant Shah commented, "Governments are increasingly in competition with many different stakeholders to determine the facts upon which policy decisions should be based. Citizens increasingly expect their government agencies to have access to authoritative and accurate data. This means that agencies need to be planning and implementing strategies to enhance their approach to business intelligence and their ability to analyze and report on an increasing range of data sources from both inside and outside the core systems of government".

Meanwhile, the report states that many governments will embrace agile development in 2012, after becoming increasingly frustrated with the high costs and disappointing success rates of large IT projects. Agile development approaches focus on early and continuous delivery of useful software that is refined over time to meet agency requirements.

Ovum analyst and report co-author Jessica Hawkins commented: "The crisis of confidence in IT is being exacerbated by conditions of fiscal austerity. Tightening of budgets makes it all the more important that IT projects both cost less to implement and actually deliver as promised, on time and on budget. In this context, there is increasing enthusiasm for more agile approaches to systems development and applications lifecycle management (ALM)."

In addition, the report advocates a cautious approach to shared services and notes the emergence of cloud computing as an alternative path. Hodgkinson comments, "Ovum believes that there will be major failures in the shared services space in 2012 to add to those seen in Australia and the UK over the past few years. The secret for success will be for shared services to focus on IT infrastructure and commodity applications. Coincidentally, this is also the 'sweet spot' for the success of cloud computing, which is why the cloud is becoming both an alternative to traditional shared services and a way to reduce risk and cost as a component of a shared services project."