Taking a quick look into the “Internet of Everything” we can rapidly observe the speed at which change and obsolescence can turn a successful IT project using the same or similar technology stack and techniques that the client had before, and will cause the client to lose ground to their users/customers/competitors’ adaptation to technology. Additionally, when they eventually play catchup they will incur repetitive costs and development time that could have been avoided.
In the federal arena agencies are working with tighter budgets and increased demand for better and more secure services. Federal agencies are very good at understanding and defining their mission. They excel at understanding the specific services they are to deliver. They have built systems and contracted with companies to build systems in the last 50+ years. The incremental upgrades that have been successfully implemented decade over decade have paid off in meeting the challenge. Of course there are exceptions but for the significant part they have done an incredible job. It does not have to be the job of the agencies to house computer systems, run call centers, support infrastructure, hire IT staff and even technical development. Part of their job is to make sure that those of us who provide these services comply with their mission and commitment to their customers, and this is an area of our expertise.
Perhaps what they should consider is a strategy that uses the best technologies and infrastructure where it is already succeeding and should continue to advance while ensuring meeting the mission of the agency. For example, using Cloud services, XaaS (anything or everything as a service) where and when appropriate. These services must meet the same scrutiny for security, delivery, and continuity as any in-house system. If the agency CIOs understand the technology trajectory that is already happening (and many do) they can get their strategy to intercept the trajectory by contracting to suppliers whose own strategy includes helping their clients intercept the trajectory. This requires true partnership where it is acceptable to have one’s blind spots pointed out for the sake of the mission.
The ultimate challenge is culture because as Drucker is credited with saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The CIO may want to select or have their partners suggest systems that have low risk and strong ROI. Actively move them into a cloud service and then measure the success or learn from the challenges that emerge. As the technology trajectory moves quickly forward, failure to start moving towards an intercept creates greater risk and cost that may not keep pace with tightening budgets. I have never read a single agency mission that is about building complex IT systems and infrastructure and all the support mechanisms and staff required to support it. However, there are many companies large and small who dedicate their entire existence to just this.
The old Grateful Dead song The Other One has a line in it that goes, “The bus came by and I got on, that’s when it all began.” Philosophically we need to get on the bus. The culture will change and we can intercept the technology trajectory.