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Reimagine Your Remote Solutions

An interview with Ken Liska, Presales Leader, State and Local Government, Citrix

It seems like ages ago when the average employee was no Zoom expert, and few people knew what VPN stood for — let alone could explain it. Remote work was unfathomable in many offices.

“The amount of government organizations that now have employees working from home either full-time or part-time and the way they’re delivering services to their constituents … has just changed so rapidly over the past couple of years,” said Ken Liska with Citrix, a company that helps agencies keep their remote applications secure while improving their user-friendliness.

Organizations must contend with cyber protection requirements, ever more complex technology,
and hiring disadvantages, he said. “Traditionally, the government sector has not been known to be on the innovative side of technology, so it’s hard to attract the … younger generation [that] wants to have a Facebook-style interface [and] instant gratification,” he said.

But innovation is possible, and Liska offered three ways to achieve it.

Think About Security Early On

People need to think about security during the planning of a new solution, rather than at the end. That’s because without security forethought, all the great user experience (UX) features you create can get weighed down by security protocols, such as requiring five passwords when the old system required only two.

Liska said that thinking ahead “helps make adoption go up. It helps [your solution] actually become more secure in the end.”

Reevaluate the Services You Deliver

Every couple of years, agencies should reconsider what they are providing and what works and what does not.

“Look at the systems you’re using. Is there a better way, a cheaper way? A way that will work better for users, a way that will work better for admins, a way that’s more secure?” Liska asked.

Find Flexible Solutions

And finally, don’t lock yourself into one approach. “You don’t want the vendor to have to tell you that, ‘Well, you bought our solution, so you have to work this way,’” Liska explained. You want the ability to imagine what your user experience will be and how you will administer the new system, and then go to your vendor and say, “Give me a solution that lets me do that.”

There are examples of public-sector agencies that followed that model. For instance, the
Ohio Department of Transportation, which is responsible for the state’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure, needed to improve remote access for all its employees, including road crews at construction sites.

In addition, the new system had to integrate with a range of endpoints — in other words, different types of handheld, laptop and other devices that agency employees use — and with the network platforms third-party contractors use. Citrix helped the department do that.

“The key to an organization’s success really comes down to just having things work, and it has to be a way that’s natural for users,” said Liska.

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide, Innovations 2022: Conversations That Matter.

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