>Enterprise Architecture Panel – Snowmaggedon and the End of the (Desktop) World: The Mobile Workforce

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[Pictured (Left to Right): Andy Blumenthal, Chief Technology Officer, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Ms. Doreen Cox, Chief Enterprise Architect, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Mr. Rod Turk, Chief Information Security Officer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.]

Introduction:

Good afternoon. I’m Andy Blumenthal, the Chief Technology Officer at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It’s a great honor for me to be here with you today to talk about telework and how EA is shaping it’s adoption.

Just coming out of the blazing hot summer, the blizzard this past February seems like ages ago. Yet this storm brought the federal workforce in D.C. to a halt for 6 days, costing more than $100 million in lost productivity per day. This was offset only by the 1/3 of the federal workforce which was teleworking.

Just in case you don’t remember take a look at this:


I still remember Snowmaggedon because that was when we shoveled out the wrong car because the snow was so high we couldn’t see which was ours.

More seriously though, telework benefits federal agencies in many ways:

1. Increases productivity
2. Enhances work-life balance and morale
3. Helps the environment by keeping cars off the road
4. Can save the taxpayer money by reducing the agency’s footprint

Data from the Telework Research Network indicate that telework could save agencies and participants as much as $11 billion annually (on such things as real estate, electricity, absenteeism, and employee turnover) and that if eligible employees telecommuted just one day every other week, agencies would increase productivity by more than $2.3 billion per year (driven by employee wellness, quality of life, and morale).

According to OPM telework adoption is growing. As of 2008, telework increased 9% over the previous year and now slightly more than 5% of the federal workforce are teleworking.

Telework got a boost when the House and the Senate passed similar bills–in May and July respectively–to expand telework opportunities. The two chambers now must reconcile their versions before a final bill heads to President Obama for approval. The Telework Enhancement Act would make employees presumptively eligible and require that agencies establish telework policies, designate a telework managing officer, and incorporate telework into agency’s continuity of operations plans.


Five years ago nobody would’ve thought that EA would inform the discussion on telework. EA was still primarily a compliance only mechanism and didn’t have a real seat at the decision table. Now thanks to the efforts of all of you, it’s strategic benefit is recognized, and
EA is playing a vital role in planning and governing strategic IT decisions such as in investing and implementing telework solutions for our agencies.

Our distinguished panelists here today will discuss how EA is informing the discussion of telework from both the policy, systems, and security perspectives.

>We Can’t Ignore or Fear Technology For Long

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New Article by Andy Blumenthal in Architecture and Governance Magazine (April 2010)

http://tinyurl.com/y3xgrlb

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When it comes to new technology, first comes ignorance, then comes fear, then comes the embrace and rush to the IT department to make it happen—now!

This scenario plays out again and again in organizations—there are three key phases to technology adoption.

Ignorance—people are unaware, misinformed, or just don’t understand the potential that a new technology holds. In some cases, it’s because they generally haven’t been exposed to the technology, in other cases, it is because they are going forward with eyes wide-shut (what they don’t know can’t harm them or so they think).

Fear—OMG. A new technology; I can’t deal with this. “I’m used to doing it X way.” “Why do we have to change.” “I can’t learn this new technology.” There is fear of something new, of change, of the unknown.

Embrace—The acknowledgement that a new technology is important to the organization; that it can’t be ignored; that it isn’t going away; that the competitors are already getting onboard. Oh uh. Get the CIO in here. We need this technology, now! Where are we going to find finding for it this year (or quarter, whatever). We need to reprioritize our IT projects, so this is at the top (or near it). Let’s get everyone right on this. Can we meet early this week?

I read an interesting article in Public CIO magazine (January 2010) called “A Mile Wide And An Inch Deep,” about how social media is becoming pervasive in government.

In the article it states: “Last year, a Public CIO reader survey found that social media didn’t make the list of the top 10 technology priorities for 2009. Today, it’s become the No. 1 topic among public CIOs.”

In between not making the top 10 technology list and becoming No. 1, social media was vilified as being something that would make the organization lose control of its message, that was a security risk, and that was a colossal waste of employees’ time and should be banned (or blocked and it was by 40% of organizations).

As the pace of technology innovation increases, the lifecycle of adoption has also rapidly advanced. For example, with social media, we went from ignorance to fear to the embrace in one year flat!

Chris Curran, chief technology officer for Diamond Management and Technology Consultants Inc., is quoted in the article as stating:

“If you rewind to 1995, the attitude back then was, “No Internet use at work.” Then it became, “No Internet shopping during work hours.” But over time, the issue just went away, because a majority of employees are good people, hardworking and productive. Some people are going to do stupid things whether they have access to social networking or not. But it doesn’t make sense to ignore a social trend that is bigger than your organization.”

You can’t ignore important new technologies or let fear get the better of you. At one time, people were saying oh no we can’t change from paper communications to email. We need everything hardcopy. And that changed. Now email is the norm or should I say was the norm, because social computing for the younger generation is becoming the new email.

The answer for IT leaders to advance organizational adoption of valuable new technologies is to:

· Create awareness and understanding of new technologies—the benefits and the risks (and how they will be mitigated).

· Establish sound planning and IT governance processes for capturing business requirements and aligning new technologies to best meet these.

· Provide new technologies coupled with ample communications and training to ensure that the technologies are not just more shelfware, but that they are readily adopted and fulfill their potential in the organization to advance the mission and productivity.

The phases of technology adoption: Ignorance, fear, and embrace are not abnormal or bad; they are human. And as people, we must have time to recognize and adjust to change. You can’t force technology down people’s throats (proverbially speaking) and you can’t command organizational readiness and poof, there it is. But rather, as IT leaders, we need to be sensitive to where people and organizations are at on the adoption lifecycle and help to identify those emerging technologies with genuine net benefits that can’t be ignored or feared—they must be embraced and the sooner the better for the organization, its people, and all its stakeholders.

>IT Leaders–In Service to User Diversity

>A colleague sent me this article about “Electronically Challenged Seniors” with the comment “I think this sums up my abilities to a “T”.” While in her case, she was grossly exaggerating–she is a highly intelligent, technologically proficient, and experienced professional–I though this was a fascinating commentary on how IT leaders need to take into consideration a wide variety of end-users when planning and rolling out new information technology.

For example, too often we treat IT training as a after-thought, communications with our users as a sidetrack from the “cool technology” itself, and the rollout and adoption of technology in our organizations as “you’ll take what we give you, when we give it to you, and you’ll like it!”

Certainly, generational differences have long been acknowledged in terms of IT awareness, understanding, desire, usage, and expectation. Those generations who grew up with the computer, PDAs, internet, social media and so on and so forth are not only versatile in them, but expect basically the “latest and greatest” to be available to them at work. While prior generations who did not grow up with these modern technologies, although fully capable of learning and using them, may not intuitively understand them or feel the same level of desire to adopt them.

As IT leaders, we need to work with people from many generations and walks of life–with various levels of breadth and depth of technical prowess, desire, and expectation, and we need to serve them all by understanding their particular IT requirements, service levels, and training needs, and tailoring our approach to servicing them to help each group–based on user segmentation–to be as productive, engaged, and comfortable as possible.

Of course, we can’t make everyone happy all the time, but perhaps, we can work ever harder to be more understanding, empathetic, and helpful to our variety of users–“challenged” or otherwise.