Top Mobile Thoughts and Predictions from Federal Leaders

08 Apr Top Mobile Thoughts and Predictions from Federal Leaders

Last week I had the chance to attend FedScoop’s 5th Annual MobileGov Summit. The event, which was standing room only, brought together top government and industry IT leaders to share current issues, trends, and best practices on how to create the next generation mobile government workforce.

Although there were many great speakers, I’ve chosen to highlight a few and share what they had to say.

The first speaker of the day was Deputy CIO for Information Enterprise at the Department of Defense (DoD), David A. Cotton. Cotton shared his thoughts on the DoD’s technology evolution. A few of the key points from his presentation were:

  • A Joint Information Environment (JIE) is the vision for the DoD.  With the JIE, the DoD is aiming to consolidate thousands of networks into a shared architecture, making the agency more secure, effective, and efficient.
  • Key areas of focus for him include: network modernization, cyber security architecture, enterprise operations, computing environment, enterprise services, mission partner environment, identity and access management, and mobility.
  • The Pentagon’s Joint Regional Security Stacks reduce the threat surface from 1000 points to 49.
  • The DoD, along with moving to a more Internet-based capability model with coalition partners, is also moving from one vendor to many vendors to ensure access to the best available devices.
  • There is a desire to move to derived credentials to allow for a more efficient and available workforce. The belief is that derived credentials beat Bluetooth CAC cards. At this time the process for credential identification is still very manual.
  • The DoD is working on the details of a BYOD policy and hopes to roll it out this summer.

The next government speaker was David Bray, CIO of the FCC. Bray talked about  “Charting Mobile and Cyber ‘Terra Incognita’: A CIO’s Perspective and Challenges.” A few highlights from his presentation include.

  • In 2014 there were 2.3 billion mobile-broadband connections.
  • The mobile economy right now is $1.2 trillion and makes up two percent of the world’s GDP.
  • A lot can happen within one minute, including:
    • More than 48,000 iOS apps downloaded, and that number is only going to grow exponentially.
    • Per Intel Security, more than 200 new threats are identified.
    • The smartphone we all carry around with us has as much computing power as President Reagan had in the early 1980s at the Pentagon.
    • By 2022, there will be 96 zetabytes of data

Our next government speaker was actually wrapping up his last week working for the GSA. Sonny Hashmi, who had served as CIO of the GSA since May 2014, is starting a new role as managing director at Box. Hashmi used the opportunity to speak at Mobile Gov Summit to share his thoughts on thriving in the knowledge economy – the use of knowledge to generate tangible and intangible values. Some of the highlights included:

  • How we thrive in the knowledge economy is different than in the industrial economy
  • Continuous innovation is what helps us succeed, but we need to improve this process
  • The process improvement principles of industrial era economics are obsolete and antithetical to the knowledge economy
  • The consumer/customer value is king, instead of shareholder value
  • Instead of customer support, we’ll start seeing models of customer delight
  • Government needs to be careful to avoid the Blockbuster business model. Government agencies must make the switch to the cloud.
  • Successful organizations connect, collaborate and innovate. Examples he gave included Coke, Toyota, Zappos, Apple, Tesla and Starbucks.
  • Hashmi quoted Vanilla Ice and told those assembled at the event that it’s important to stop, collaborate, and listen….then design your future around the user experience
  • It’s important to identify and build for the “mobile moments” in your user’s journey map
  • Embrace “the Lego model.” Figure out the basic building blocks, and watch amazing things happen.
  • Build your geek army and learn to take effective risks

The next speaker, who raised the idea of a Mobile Gov Summit five years ago, also works for the GSA. Gwynne Kostin is director of digital government for the GSA and spoke about the exponential growth of mobile.  Some of the key takeaways from Kostin’s talk included:

  • The way we’ve been defining mobile has really been moving beyond the device – government data is available to the public anywhere, any time.
  • There has been an exponential growth of federal mobile apps since July – and there will be more than 200 by April 15
  • A great resource to check out for federal mobile apps is
  • While not free, between 1999 and 2012 storage became 19,000 times cheaper!
  • The 2014 iPhone has more than 240,000 times the computing power of the 1977 Voyager I spacecraft
  • Mobile is part of an exponential convergence of computing power, storage and the cloud
  • Kostin cautioned against working in a silo and doing things by yourself, saying that “the crowd has answers.”
  • She made a big push for an open approach – saying it’s critical for the government to make sure their systems are open and that their data is open
  • On that same line of thought, Kostin stated that systems need to be designed to get data out, not just put data in
  • Lastly, she cautioned that short term metrics distract from longer term impacts

Last, but not least, the day concluded with Associate Administrator, OCSIT/18F & Chief Customer Officer at the GSA, Phaedra Chrousos. Recently named one of FedScoop’s Top 50 Women in Technology, Chrousos talked about meeting customer needs with mobile. FedScoop did a nice wrap up of her discussion, which she opened by telling the crowd she wanted to call “It’s Not All About Mobile.” Below are just a few of the highlights.

  • Chrousos cautions against groupthink and explains that her reason for saying it’s not all about mobile is because a mobile app may not always be what you need
  • It’s important to create what is right for your customer rather than build for the trend – and that may mean a website built based on responsive design vs. a mobile app
  • Chrousos highlighted a few government agencies that are doing mobile right – and designing for their customer. A few of those apps include:
    • The Department of Transportation’s SaferRide, which is designed to help drunk people get home safely
    • The US Census Bureau’s Pop Quiz app, which tests your knowledge of the US population
    • The VA’s PTSD Coach app, which helps veterans learn about and manage their symptoms
    • The Department of Energy’s LanternLive, which allows users to find critical information during power disruptions
    • Chrousos also highlighted a few things to keep in mind when designing for mobile:
      • It’s important to keep the customer concept top of mind as government looks to apply mobile innovation
      • More and more data is on the way. The Internet of Things is only growing stronger and with it a call to action to innovate.
      • The lines between the public and private sector are blurring. Crowd sourcing and joint programs are the new “it” in IT.

All in all it was a great day full of fun, lively, and enlightening discussions. Were you there? What was your favorite thing about the 5th Annual Mobile Gov Summit?

Jennifer Edgerly
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