Anyone who works for the government knows their internal systems don’t always match the ease of use and efficiency of private sector systems. Despite increases in innovation, government agencies often have a difficult time keeping up with technology trends. To help overcome the deficit, government organizations should consider reimagining the digital experiences within their organizations to keep up with real-time innovation.
In order to better understand the challenges agencies face when it comes to digital services and solutions available to them, GovLoop spoke with Greg Reeder, Director of the Department of Defense Technology Solutions at Adobe, a leader in digital experience and creative technology. Before joining Adobe, Reeder was Director of U.S. Marine Corps Digital Production.
Reeder said that one of the biggest challenges that many organizations face, including the DoD, is keeping pace with rapidly changing technology while maintaining old infrastructure. Digital strategies change on a weekly basis, but it is difficult to adjust these to a system that has been in place for decades.
Moreover, updating digital strategy and legacy infrastructures is particularly challenging for organizations because almost everything they do is policy driven. “The problem with policy in the technology world is that most of the policy was written before the technology was even imagined,” Reeder explained. Consequently, when individuals try to apply policy to digital innovation, they meet roadblocks because they cannot go beyond what the policy says, even if the policy is outdated.
Adobe is working alongside agencies to help them navigate the reimagining of their digital strategies. For example, Adobe has a capability called smart tagging. This technology uses algorithms to recognize the content of an image or video based on the pixels it contains; then adds metadata labels (tags) to the content automatically. The DoD can use this from a content management or intelligence perspective to save thousands of man-hours processing content, drastically increase search accuracy, and ultimately use it to help track the enemy and improve operational capabilities.
In order to continue pushing innovative digital strategies in government, Adobe encourages organizations to implement a content velocity strategy. The idea behind content velocity is to keep pace with content demands by publishing, distributing and communicating faster, allowing you to focus on what people want or need to consume – down to the millisecond. Adobe helps organizations keep up with content demands by providing tools that reimagine government forms as transactions. Reeder explained that a majority of our government runs on forms. Through Adobe’s Experience Manager platform, organizations can rethink and convert forms into a series of transactions that are accessible across devices. This allows users to accomplish transactions, push out content or receive more accurate feedback; ultimately helping to increase content velocity. A correlation would be how a tax application turns IRS tax forms into a series of questions, rather than a laborious forms exercise each tax season.
Additionally, using technology to enhance connected experiences allows the physical and digital (“phygital”) worlds to combine; offering a comprehensive connected experience, such as printing a boarding pass at an airport kiosk or ordering takeout from an app.
In the DoD, artificial intelligence or predictive analytics can help perform the digital component by bringing together massive amounts of data on events or collections like operations, sensor feeds, and force numbers, into a dataset that can be presented to analysts. This enables the analysts to visualize and interact with the content and data — moving them physically and temporally in a way that aids leaders to make more efficient and better informed decisions. Adobe’s enterprise tools help marry the physical aspect of understanding to the analyzed data.
While the federal government is working towards improving digital engagement, they still have a long way to go. “The Apollo Guidance Computer’ was built to send people to the moon. In the relatively short time since, new commercial systems have advanced to technology such as smart phones – which has a computing capability that is 120 million times faster than the AGC. Meanwhile, the federal government still relies on some of the same technology that was used for the Apollo mission,” Reeder said. “It’s time to rethink our legacy systems to adapt to today’s digital world, rather than requiring new solutions to fit old technology.
The government must keep pace and organizations should reimagine what they are required to do in order to effectively continue to carry out their mission today and in the future.