Agencies Will Press the Gas Pedal for Modernization in 2021

At GovLoop’s online training Thursday, “Innovating and Modernizing the Employee Experience in 2021,” most virtual attendees said they expect modernization efforts to accelerate in the new year after confronting pandemic-driven changes that forced many organizations to adapt to a new remote world.

According to a poll during the webinar, over 50% of respondents reported that their organization tackled some large-scale modernization project this year during the pandemic. Even more respondents – over 70% – expect efforts to accelerate in 2021.

At the General Services Administration (GSA), for example, modernization efforts for employee experience will be focused on three big-ticket items next year: security, supply chain risk and mobility. Employee experience accounts for the way GSA empowers staff to securely and easily use technology services to do their jobs.

“Going into next year, we’re going to continue to double down on security,” said Jim Russo, Technical Director of the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions Program at GSA’s Office of IT Category. That means helping agencies take baby steps in adopting more sophisticated security postures for a distributed work environment that also takes advantage of cloud technologies. That involves moving away from a castle-and-moat type of approach that’s common when IT resources are on-site and not in the cloud.

Similar to the focus on security, Russo said the agency will concentrate on supply chain risk, particularly cybersecurity supply chain risk, to provide a safer set of solutions to agencies. Supply chains are the systems that move products or services from suppliers to customers.

The third major modernization item is mobility. Although 5G is not widespread yet, as it starts to become more accessible, the agency must ensure it’s readily equipped to support increased mobile technologies, Russo said. It has established a mobility service area to support applications that will incorporate Internet of Things, internet-connected devices that exchange data with one another, and Mobility-as-a-Service, a technology that would allow users to find and access all modes of transportation on a single platform.

“We’ve been actively seeking and getting interest from industry to offer those services,” Russo said.

Modernizing employee experience is critical in a remote world because, from an IT perspective, there are more complicated variables when it comes to troubleshooting and resolving issues.

“It’s not like I can walk downstairs to the other floor in the building because Employee A reported application access issues. I can’t go down there and manually troubleshoot it,” said Brandon Shopp, Vice President of Product Strategy at SolarWinds, an IT management software company.

Employees could be tens, even hundreds of miles away in a remote world. So IT teams need to have additional layers of visibility into the infrastructure in order to troubleshoot and analyze root causes of performance issues.

“[End-user experience monitoring] is something we’re seeing a lot from users, that they are wanting to make sure not just that their employees can continue to work – they’ve jumped that hurdle – but that they continue to work effectively,” Shopp said.

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