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Lead With Technology, Not Trinkets

RIM, the maker of the Blackberry, continues to flounder, and many organizations are rightfully moving their mobility solutions to the ever more capable iPhone and Android platforms.

Changing the device has the potential to bring the latest technology to the organization, but the risk is that the device is viewed as a “toy” to hand out to the end-users, like doling out duckets to the impoverished in the Middle Ages.

With the latest smartphones and tablets running at 4G and loaded with camera, video, and more than half a million Apps, end-users are more than happy to receive their bounty whether or not it is immediately tied into the business processes of the organization.

In some cases, when there is money to invest to new systems, strategic planning, sound governance, and robust security, the CIO may choose to focus on gadgets instead.

Unfortunately, innovation in the organization is more than about gadgetry, but about how the organization can benefit from the integration of new hardware, software, and information to better carry out the mission.

However, delivering solutions is hard, while buying devices can be as easy as just writing a check.

If smartphones are treated trivially like gifts, rather than as a true game-changer for how people perform their jobs better, then CIOs have simply bought themselves some more time in the corner office, rather than driving transformative change.

Bringing new devices to the organization has many benefits in it’s own right, but the key is not to do it for it’s own sake.

New devices are wonderful, and we want them personally and professionally, but it is the CIO’s job to ensure that IT investment dollars are spent on genuine IT solutions to mission and business requirements, and smartphones and tablets need to be integrated firmly into what we do, not just what we carry.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to macattck)

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Julie Chase

The concern with these new “gadgets” are more about “where” they are made vs. what they can do for Uncle Sam. Security is paramount and “getting these new gadgets” takes way more paper than writing a “check”. There are many hoops an organization must jump through and a wait of several months to finally get “approval” to “purchase”. By then, the next “new gadget” will be out. I don’t want a gov provided smart phone. I have my own. I don’t want to be “on call”.

Here’s an innovative idea, How about AMERICANS making Ipads for AMERICANS to use in the private and “pubic” sector? How about AMERICANS making thumb drives so DoD can come out of the closet and let us use the technology the government really needs to keep up with the rest of the world?

I would like a work computer that “moves”….as in speed of window to window….not bogged down with enough firewalls as the Space Shuttle re-entering earth’s atmosphere. If I have a problem, I would like a “local” tech employee (preferably gov employee not contractor) come out to my desk and assist me, if they can’t do it remotely. Someone who knows my organizations mission, not some random person on the phone 2 states or across the country.

Henry Brown

Suspect that this MIGHT always be an issue. However has budgets get tighter IMO it will be at least somewhat more difficult to engage in trinket buying for the sake of buying or an attempt to influence the door keepers of the budget.

Janina Rey Echols Harrison

I’m with you Julie. There was another discussion about telework. My computer speed is much faster when I am working from home than at work. Having a tech support who can work their magic remotely is important. It is nearly impossible to purchase new technology within its lifespan.

Don’t have to worry about smart phones where I live and work. My cell operates in paperweight mode the majority of the time. I can get connectivity in a few places. We don’t bother with data plans here. It is getting better. My new laptop has WiFi. My last trip with my old laptop, it was in paperweight mode. There was no place to ‘plug in” for internet service. Not airports, hotels, no one had land lines. On the other hand, my cell phone was not in paperwieght mode while I was traveling.

I am sure there are probably some American made products or could be if they knew what a market that would be. Of course those would cost more, then would they make it through our procurement system?

Julie Chase

I hear ya Janina.

this is interesting reading:


Now the question is: Would American made tech make it through our procurement system? Evidently, all the Chinese tech is making it through along with other parts/supplies with nary a problem. So the American made tech should be at least 20 pages less to procure. Cost more? I would be surprised if it didn’t. We are on the “receiving” end when it comes to tech. As a gsapay cardholder, I am prohibited from buying non TAA supplies, etc. But it seems to me Uncle Sam can get a contractor to “buy” anything else from “where ever”…….go figure.

Other agencies, other than DoD, DoN must go through a “cake walk” process for procuring IT. I read blogs on Gov Loop and other gov employee blogs about the ability to get the latest “tech” for employee use on a whim, and use that “tech” for just about anything……streaming music…..thumbdrives…..GS05’s walking around with gov supplied cell phones…GS13 and 14’s demanding a gov supplied “smartphone”. Really? Really? And you wonder why the taxpayers look upon us as pond scum? If you’re a GS above a 9, you can afford to buy your “own” cell phone. If your boss wants you, give him/her your number or have them text you. Mind you, after 4 pm on weekdays and weekends…it’s my time. You go ahead and tether yourself to Uncle Sam…..not me.