What would happen if you could only use your phone to do your job? Could you do it?
According to G. Nagesh Rao, Chief Information Officer of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, if you can securely do your job on your phone, it may be an indicator that your agency can use technology to its most effective, productive means.
“We want to have purposeful innovation to understand how it’s going to improve outcomes for end users and improve mission sets.”
As an experiment, during his intermittent paternity leave, Rao decided to leave his work laptop at home. He had all the documents he needed through a cloud-based app on his mobile device. When he needed to sign, review or edit pertinent work, he rocked his son to sleep in one arm and sent files from the other. Ultimately the experiment ended a success. Everything he needed to do got done through his phone.
That kind of flexibility may be “an extreme case,” Rao said at GovLoop’s online training Wednesday. But it shows that if he can do it securely, he can strive to offer and “enable max flexibility” for other staff as well.
This is the goal for constituent services, too. Residents should be able to access services digitally, wherever they are. And that means agencies have to stay agile and secure to ensure their IT environments can support employee innovation and productivity in different work environments.
But it’s not as simple as adopting new technology solutions. In fact, certain issues may not need any digital solutions. That’s what Rao reminds his team of: Know when to use technology and when not to. You can throw some tech product to tackle a problem, but will it really solve the problem? Think of technology as a tool in the suite of solutions instead, and not the solution itself.
Verizon’s Lamont Copeland, Director of the Federal Solution Architecture Team and 5G Enterprise Solutions, agreed.
“We don’t want to throw in technology just to throw in technology,” Copeland said. “We want to have purposeful innovation to understand how it’s going to improve outcomes for end users and improve mission sets. Because it’s not just the government’s mission set. It is all of our communities’ mission sets.”
To this end, agencies are trying to get data faster and closer to their end-user employees for decision-making. Mobile access and the cloud is one way, particularly in the hybrid work environment. But with the hybrid workplace comes new security concerns. Flexible work needs flexible security, such as zero trust.
Zero trust requires users to continually authenticate their access within a system. And it is “absolutely integral” to a more mobile and geographically extended environment, said Don Wiggins, Chief Global Solutions Architect at Equinix Government Solutions.
“Think about operating in a closed, contained IT environment in the past,” Wiggins said. “Now, there are extensions to locations [and] services, and you have to address that proactively, and make those digital and security capabilities extendable.”
Schedule a digital strategy briefing with Equinix and Verizon to discuss next steps in your agency’s IT modernization journey.
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