An interview with Dan Kent, Chief Technology Officer, Red River
The public experiences government innovation in different ways. At times, it simply makes routine tasks, such as renewing your driver’s license, less arduous. Sometimes it makes internal government systems better — by moving operations to the cloud and away from outdated IT, for instance.
And some innovations affect the public in more creative, large-scale ways, thanks to the Internet of Things. Consider how remote learning allowed tens of millions of students to continue their education when schools shuttered during the pandemic and how smart cities rely on high-tech traffic management systems and road-to-vehicle communications. Those are just two examples.
Dan Kent with Red River said agencies are making groundbreaking changes for three main reasons. First, they need to enhance the citizen experience (CX) and live up to people’s expectations regarding user-friendliness, transparency and security.
Second, agencies are grappling with cybersecurity. Specifically, “How do you get to a zero-trust environment from a complicated silo-based framework?” he said. And third, organizations with budget pressures need to improve capabilities while lowering costs.
“The complexities of IT for government agencies can be overwhelming,” Kent said. “[Public employees] face the difficult challenge of meeting the changing needs of the citizens and agencies they serve, while maintaining security and privacy. Not to mention, doing all this faster than ever before.”
Build a Culture of Innovation
The first step that agencies looking to innovate should take is to clarify the impacts of such transformative change, Kent said. For instance, how will it affect CX, cost savings and agency strategy? He said that anyone should be allowed to innovate — and be rewarded for the outcomes — and that organizations should foster a culture of innovation.
And remember, he said, “Innovations come in small sizes — think about a caseworker introducing a new workflow — and they can come in agency-level sizes.”
Create a Cadence and Methodology
Being organized is helpful. Kent suggested developing a system to document and share large, innovative ideas that require either budget or cross-team buy-in. And rather than create something from whole cloth, he said agencies should leverage commercial models.
Keep a List of Agency-Level Ideas
Ideas can be forgotten or confused. To combat that, Kent said organizations should maintain a list of innovations that would affect the agency at large. Agency leaders should review, understand and discuss if and how each innovation might be implemented, and they should remember that some reforms might be incorporated into existing initiatives, he said.
And help is available. For instance, Red River, which works with a portfolio of IT partners, provides government agencies with solutions that help them deliver on their missions in a timely and secure way.
“We understand the impact technology has on agencies and their missions — whether that is enhancing citizen services, providing new capabilities to the warfighter or making our government more efficient,” Kent said.
A thoughtful strategy and the right people, partnerships and technology can drive digital transformation for years to come, he said.