Here’s the real disclaimer: From time to time I will mention thenames of products and vendor companies; these mentions should not be taken as official OPM endorsement of any product or company. They’re merely illustrative.The (mostly real) confession: I hate OPM’s standard slide template, so the first slide is the last you’ll see of that. Sorry.
And now, I have an important announcement! Hmm…
That’s better. I’m here today to announce that OPM has discovered a radical new tablet computer that is totally secure, easy to use and very inexpensive. We’re planning to roll this new device out very shortly, and I’m here to unveil it for the first time to this audience!
And here it is! We’re very excited about the possibilities of this new device. As I mentioned, it is completely secure. It has a very simple interface (our internal tests showed the average user takes only a few minutes to learn how to use it). It’s display, although not back-lit, is readable in low light and in bright sunlight. This model is very small, nearly pocket-size, and weighs only a few ounces. Battery life is extremely good.Our testers did note some drawbacks, however. Although simple to use, the device has very few features. In fact it’s really only good for basic word processing. There’s no Internet connectivity, although that was seen as a benefit by our security team. We did notice some incompatibilities with existing systems, and one observation was particularly concerning: simply moving the device rapidly from side to side results in significant data loss, and there are no currently available backup utilities. Still, we think this is going to be a hit with our users!
Ok, obviously that was my acknowledgementof April Fool’s Day. But I think we find it funny because there’s an underlying truth we recognize: there’s a tradeoff between security controls and functionality. The more you lock it down, the less you can do with it. I joke with my security team that the most secure system is a computer with no hard drive, no power supply and no network card sealed in a concrete bunker on the Moon. But of what use is it?
There are two main ideas I want to pursue in this talk. The first is Innovation, with an emphasis on how to build and cultivate a spirit of innovation in government agencies. I’m going to come at this somewhat indirectly; there’s no 12-step program that will help you be more innovative, you have to do a lot of little-to-medium-sized things, I feel, to get things to start happening in more innovative ways.The second idea is the Mobile Workforce. In some ways this is an implementation of the ideas behind innovation, but it’s also something OPM is very focused on.
Note that there is no “All of the above” choice, although at least 75% of you are thinking right now that there should be.
Obviously the correct answer is “d”, but is that how it seems day to day? Does it seem as though you’re focusing on the wrong things a lot of the time, that there’s often little time left over for the core mission? Well, you’re not alone. But you need to remember that the core of what you do is deliver social security services. Not IT security, not records management, not software development. All of those activities, though important, are in support of delivering social security services.When I got to OPM, I printed out a large copy of the OPM mission statement and tacked it on my wall where it would always be in front of me. That helps me remember what I’m there to do. The most important thing…
…is to remember what business you’re in. This is extremely important when you want to be more innovative, and it will be a recurring theme today.
Whenever I want to understand a company or a government agency, I look at its mission statement. The mission statement is how the organization WANTS to think of itself. Sometimes it actually is the way the organization thinks of itself. Mission statements are written when you’re feeling hopeful, when you think you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. That’s the mindset you have to get back to if you want to innovate. Otherwise you’re stuck in your day-to-day realities and can’t see the forest for the trees.Your mission statement says what you do very succinctly. When I first read this, I noted the last clause in the sentence: “that meet the changing needs of the public”. From the outset, you’re recognizing that there are probably better ways to do what you do, and you’re always striving to improve. This is a very hopeful way to look at your work. So the question is: how do you deliver those Social Security services? How do you deliver them better?
If having a strong mission statement is the first step, the next is having clear, ambitious goals. You’ve done that as well, and they’re captured in your performance plan. Your priority goals show that you want to do more online, and that you see customer service as a key issue you want to address. Your agency strategic goals and objectives take these a step farther, and you’ve got metrics and actionable steps. The individual performance plans of everyone in here probably map back to these goals.I mention all of this because, if you’re like OPM, this high-level stuff is not on your mind most of the time. It’s important to reflect that if you want direction, you’ve got it in the documents you’ve put together to describe your agency and challenge yourselves to do even better.
As always, remember what business you’re in.
So what business is OPM in? Well, here’s our mission statement: we Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. I try to do a little of this every day. Sometimes I joke with people on my way out the door at the end of the workday, saying “I’ve recruited, retained and honored a world-class workforce to serve the American people enough for one day”.In the CIO’s office, we try to find and/or build technology solutions that help the agency do this. We also ask ourselves: how can we innovate in these areas? What would an innovative way to recruit talented workers be? How can technology help us retain our high-performing staff? What innovative ways are there to honor the service of our current and retired workers? At OPM, this thinking starts at the top. If you’ve followed Director Berry’s tenure, you know that he’s out in front on all of these areas. Having that push from above, if you will, makes it easier for us to push ourselves to constantly improve, to think of ways of doing the work of OPM better.Even so, like most employees (government and non-government) we face the same daily challenges that take us off the innovative path. What I want to share with you today are some of the things we have done to break out of that box.
So let’s start with your daily tautology: if you want to be innovative: innovate! Start doing small things that change the mindset. I’m going to talk about some ways to do that.
I’ve been in the IT field for about 20 years and I’ve noticed over that time that we think about IT in the wrong way sometimes. Often we do it for logical reasons. I wrote a series of blog posts about this on our OPM CIO page if you want to read more (I called it IT Rules there, being ironic). Today I want to talk about two myths that I believe limit our thinking about technology and cause us to manage IT in less than ideal ways.
The first is the myth of scarcity. The premise here is that IT resources are scarce. On the labor side, IT talent and experience is hard to find.On the product side, only a few vendors make the equipment and software that will truly meet your needs, and they each charge a lot of money for their products and services. You had better use those large, expensive vendors because otherwise your project will fail. This is the origin of the old saying “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”.Internally, “corporate IT” sets the rules for the use of technology because they control the resources; you have to conform to those rules because there’s no good alternative, and chances are you don’t have the technical expertise to argue a point (otherwise you’d be subsumed into the IT department).By the way, understand that I’m speaking in generalizations here so I don’t want to get reports tomorrow of folks bludgeoning their IT staff.
The reality is, IT resources are abundant. Talented IT labor is easy to find, but you have to know where to look and how to attract it (just like any talented labor). Useful IT products are everywhere: the average teenager has access to and actively uses more technology than the average office worker (just think of smartphones, laptops, digital music players, portable DVD players and digital cameras as well as powerful software tools available on the Web for free). And corporate IT no longer necessarily sets the rules: users have lots of choice and can revolt if the IT department doesn’t meet their needs. You see this in organizations all the time, where directors or program managers start to build their own capacity outside of the central IT department in order to get things done faster.We continue to manage IT as if resources are scarce. We have to broaden our definition of what technologies are right for the workplace to include open source, cloud computing, free tools and consumer-oriented products. We need to attract a different kind of IT professional, one who sees the world as resource-rich and understands the potential of consumer technologies. And we in corporate IT need to loosen our grip on the environment by partnering with our customers rather than dictating to them. After all, if they’re determined enough our customers have choice just like they do in the marketplace.
The second myth is the myth of standardization. This premise of this myth is that you cannot manage IT properly without standardizing everything. Standards create efficiencies of cost and scale; if you standardize on one model of computer, for example, your support cost per unit will go down because the support systems and processes you need to maintain only have to deal with one configuration.Conversely, if you do not standardize you waste money and hurt productivity. Not standardizing can create incompatibilities that impact people’s ability to do their work.
We need to come to terms with the idea that not everything in IT must be standardized. In my view, it’s appropriate to think of diversity “at the edge” as a good thing for organizations. By “at the edge” I mean the technologies that are actually used by people: like computers, smart phones, tablets and the software that runs on those devices. A common example is the age-old war of the Mac vs the PC. In the Federal government, we’ve obviously standardized on the PC. Our reasons for this seem solid: I buy one type of computer, I only train my employees on one operating system, my back-end systems are aligned with this one operating system, everybody’s happy.Consider this: there are people in college who have never used a PC. Some of them are pretty sharp, pretty talented people. Do you want them to work for you? Would you risk losing them in favor of maintaining a rigid standard on the desktop?When you look closely at the cost efficiencies of scale, I believe that the incremental cost of adding another operating system to the mix is minimal. This is because the way the devices work conforms to “open standards”, some of them de facto standards. The Mac and the PC both use the same protocols for data networks, their file systems are compatible, you can use most of the same peripherals on both. This wasn’t the case ten years ago, but times have changed. It’s time we changed as well.As an analogy, consider the telephone system.
What if every phone still looked like this? Back in the early days of the phone system (I’m talking late 19th century, here), you leased your phone from the phone company. Later, companies realized the business they were in wasn't the device you used to make calls, but the system itself. Even today phone companies generally don’t make their own phones, although they do resell ones made by other companies.Now imagine a world where you had to buy the phone from the phone company. What kind of phone would they sell you? They’d probably want to make a lot of the exact same kind of phone, to keep the unit cost down. If they’re the only place to get a phone, you’re not going to have any choice but buy what they sell you. Feature upgrades would be few and far between, and probably very expensive. Since nobody else is making phones, there’s little incentive for the phone company to innovate.Does any of this sound familiar? In companies and government agencies, corporate IT is a monopoly. They’ve architected the system in such a way that everything works provided you stick with the standards. That’s why when you go up to an IT person and say: “can I have that cool Android phone?”, they either say no or run the other way. Then you have a choice: if you have sufficient authority, you buy one anyway and force IT to make an exception. Otherwise you get the device for yourself and try to hack it into the system yourself. Or, you grumble and accept defeat. Either way, your opinion of corporate IT isn’t very high.But it’s not IT’s fault, right? Everything works the way it’s supposed to, which is what everybody wants.
Let’s go back to the phone system example and see the way things are today. There isn’t just one type of phone, there are probably hundreds of options. And you can buy one from a whole host of companies, not just one. The phone companies set certain standards regarding the way calls are made and routed to their destination. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. If you can dream up a device, you can probably make a phone call with it, or else you can connect to the Internet and do it that way.How did this happen? Phone companies have pushed standards to the center, allowing diversity at the edge of the network. It helps that the essential technology behind making a call is fairly simple in the grand scheme of things. Scale makes it more complicated, but we’ve overcome that. And not only are the devices used to make calls extremely diverse, what you can do with voice communication has expanded by leaps and bounds with the integration of technologies like voice recognition, automated call distribution and video.The really important question is: how can we be like that? How can we architect our organizations to allow diversity to flourish while not breaking the system? Remember the saying from earlier: if you want to be innovative, innovate! Pick a target and start from there. That’s what we did at OPM, which is the next part of the story.
Here begins the tale of the iPad at OPM. So I have to confess, when the iPad first came out we did not fully embrace it. Just the opposite, in fact. One of our internal business units (not within OCIO) bought 5 of the devices without consulting IT, and asked that they be connected to the network. We refused, and actually confiscated the devices. We did this for very logical reasons: someone bought IT equipment without going through the proper channel, and we were not willing to connect the devices because they weren’t standard, might not be secure, etc. I’m assuming you can guess what happened to our stock price with that business unit…
We had the usual objections to the iPad when we looked at the ones we confiscated.The device is not one of our standard technologies. It runs on a different operating system, it’s made by a vendor we don’t buy from, it’s mostly geared toward the consumer market, etc. We worried that these could cause serious security issues if we allowed them.We couldn’t figure out what the devices would be used for. They weren’t phones, they weren’t laptops…we didn’t get it. More specifically, we couldn’t imagine a business case for the devices.We didn’t have time in our busy schedules to figure out how to support them.We began to realize, however, very quickly that there was growing user demand for these devices. This was mostly coming from the “front office”, our politically appointed leaders, but there were pockets of interest all over. Bear in mind that Apple sold about 15 million of these things in just nine months, so there was a bit of feeding frenzy going on. Anyway, we began to wonder whether we were on the wrong side of this thing, maybe we should find a way to adopt them after all.
Then an uncomfortable and also fortuitous thing happened. Director Berry was quoted in a popular government industry publication as saying that his own agency was still so behind the times that we refused to allow our employees to use iPads. Now, I could tell you that we were already by that time well on our way to rolling these out, testing how they worked, learning how to secure them, etc., and that would all be true. However, nothing galvanized our efforts quite like the Director’s comments. In an agency devoted to the President’s vision of making government “cool” again, our office was not about to let itself be viewed as backward.We stepped up our efforts. We sent a long email to all senior staff explaining what we were doing and asking them to hold us accountable to a vision of technology innovation. And in August of last year we announced full support for not only the iPad, but also the iPhone and the Mac operating system.Now, I want to point out that we could have allowed these devices to be used much earlier than August. We already had a business case exception process that people could use to request non-standard equipment. We could have let the devices be bought, banned them from our network but allowed connectivity to Web-based email and little else. Users would have the devices, and the network would be safe.We could have done that, but we didn’t. And here’s why.I don’t like short cuts. The point of the iPad, what it represents, is that it’s a game-changer. It’s a different way of working, a different way of thinking about a tablet. There’s a story that Steve Jobs supposedly told his design team before they began work on the iPad that: “if you start with a stylus, you’ve already failed”. You may recall that previous tablet computers used a pen-like device for writing on the surface and activating icons to run applications. Apple didn’t do that, they thought they could do it better. And they did. So I figure, why water down something like that? What our users want is not just to have an iPad, but to use it in all its glory.
I’m a fan of technology challenges. I set difficult requirements for my engineers in order to push them to think creatively. In the case of the iPad, I said: “We’re going to support this device, and we’re going to make it work as much like it was designed to work as possible. Your job is to figure out how we can support it, but you have to work within the following set of rules”.Here were the rules:The iPad would be a standard device. That means we needed support procedures, procurement vehicles, management tools and so on. There was to be no business case exception requirement; anybody with the money could buy one.Both wifi and 3G connectivity would have to be supported fully and equally.The AppStore would be enabled on the device, and users could purchase apps at OPM’s expense. The rationale was that the AppStore represents at least as much value as the device itself.Remote access to the network must be allowed and secured through VPN and our Citrix environment.We will comply with NIST and OMB requirements regarding IT security, the Federal Desktop Core Configuration, etc. Mitigating steps would be taken if the device did not inherently comply with a guideline. We would have to be able to pass an audit of our environment after the devices were in play.Why did I do this? Because people, when challenged, find a way. And the team did everything I asked. Not because the iPad is such a great device (although it is, and that helped). It was because the team was challenged, and given the freedom to innovate. Since we adopted iPads, iPhones and Macs, I’ve spoken to numerous agencies about the process we went through. We’ve shared documentation about our analysis of security controls and configuration of systems so that others can see if what we did would work for them.
And this is a key point, one that I want everyone here to fully appreciate. What we did worked for us. Every agency has a unique set of circumstances and may have to travel a different path. I believe that any agency can roll out the iPad. But how they do it, and what they choose to allow or disallow needs to reflect the reality of that agency.The most important thing, if you want to embrace more innovation, is to challenge your assumptions. As “why?” a lot. Don’t accept that something can’t be done unless you’ve really tried it and failed. Failure in the cause of innovation is no sin.Many people have asked me why we adopted iPads at all. They ask what the business case is. This is another thing that gets back to the peculiarities of an agency: for us, this is mission-driven. Part of “recruiting, retaining and honoring a world-class workforce” is about understanding what makes employees productive and happy. The technology aspect of that is to find out what technologies make employees productive and happy. You may remember I said that one of our reactions to the iPad was: what’s it for? It’s not a phone, it’s not a laptop…I don’t get it. Here’s where the innovative instinct needs to kick in: we didn’t wait to figure that out. Instead, we assumed our users would show us how they would be useful. Some gave the device back, saying it wasn’t for them. Others turned in their laptops in favor of the iPad. How’s that for a business case? $800 iPad instead of a $2,000 laptop.The broader point is that business value is not just monetary. Even in the Great Recession, we have to think about workplace satisfaction, recruitment potential, company brand value and other intangibles. As always…
The byproduct of ouriPad story is just as interesting. Because we went through the (sometimes painful) exercise of supporting the iPad we began to see innovation opportunities everywhere. There’s even been some friendly competition within OCIO to find innovative solutions. People are still sometimes tentative, but they’re hopeful. They’re back in the mission statement mindset.Here are a couple of other things we’ve done and areas we’ve explored in our quest to be more innovative, emboldened by our iPad experience.
Open Source refers to software products where the “buyer” of an open source product has access to the source code as well as the finished work and can modify and redistribute it according to rules of the particular license model used by the creator of the product. Many open source software products are free to use, and some companies offer integration and/or support services for a fee if you choose to use them.Cost savings is one big reason why we’re embracing open source technologies, but there’s more to it than that. By forcing our internal technical teams to consider open source technologies when designing a system, they’re more likely to think through what they’re trying to do and make decisions based on actual business requirements rather than technical preference or “that’s what I used the last time I did something like this”. Open source is at one end of a maturity curve followed by software: when a product is new, it’s often expensive and made by only a few vendors. If there’s a large need for the software, other vendors will create competing products driving the cost down. If the need is large enough, someone will create a version for his or her own use and sometimes share it with friends or make it generally available to the world. Often a community will grow up around that product, and others will improve it and extend it into other areas. It sounds utopic, but I can tell you it really happens and OPM is already benefitting from it.Our intention is to give back to the open source community as our use of these products grows. As an example, we recently wanted to use an open source application for encrypting data, in particular for the creation of digital signatures. It turns out that OMB requires agencies to use a specific certification – called FIPS 140-2 – to determine whether a product can be used for such a purpose. In order to get this certification, software manufacturers have to pay thousands of dollars to a private lab. Since most open source products are community supported and do not have a company behind them, there’s no one to pay the fee. So, OPM is now seeking partner agencies to get this particular product certified so that all agencies can benefit. By splitting the fee our up-front costs will be minimal, and enable us to use a technology that stands to save us an even greater amount over time. In this way, our vision is that OPM will help champion the use of open source software in the Federal government.
This was an early win for us and served as a kind of pilot of the use of open source in OPM. We built this site for our Public Affairs group using an open source tool called ResourceSpace. With this tool, the group can manage its many thousands of digital assets: images, video clips, audio files and so forth. We stood up the tool and helped the group think through how to categorize the assets for later retrieval. The software cost us nothing and we used in-house staff to set the whole thing up in a couple of months. The part that took the longest was organizing the content that we put in the system. So far it’s been performing well and we’re planning to scale up the repository to hold about a terabyte of data.
Another initiative I wanted to mention is OPM Labs. At the moment, this is an ad hoc group that works on a number of small, innovative technology projects that solve specific business problems or help make OPM more innovative. The vision for OPM Labs is that it will be a dedicated group that has a catalog of hundreds of active projects, with some becoming finished products that get used by OPM program areas. The projects could be building software applications, testing new client devices, designing better business processes, etc. These would be the types of things where somebody comes up with a great idea but either no one knows how to pull it off or there are no resources to focus on it. The team would be designed and organized to deliver bits of functionality quickly, almost hyper-agile in its approach, perhaps only proving out a concept and then moving on while others take the concept and create a finished product.
An example of an OPM Labs project was our revamped Open Data page. The business problem I posed to the group was this: we post a lot of data on opm.gov, but it’s not in a format that’s readily usable by someone who doesn’t have special software. We need a way to do three things:Post data so it can be read into Excel or another common application.Provide visualizations in addition to the raw data, so there is some context.Provide data so it can be read into software programs that then can do other, useful things with the data.As a bonus, it would be great if people could tell us about their applications if they wrote one that used our data. From this, the Open Data page was born. Now you get data in a format you can use, we wrote some simple apps that help visualize the data and make it useful, and if you choose to write an application using our data you can tell us about it. We were able to launch the site and data sets in just a few weeks.Now imagine you posed your own challenge to the team. Maybe you want a better way to provide service through the website, or a seamless way to integrate two different systems or a fix to an annoying quirk in an automated process. By focusing the team on small but meaningful business problems, I think OPM Labs could become invaluable.
Now I’d like to spend some time talking about OPM’s vision of the mobile workforce. This is not a new concept really, but it’s somewhat new for the Federal government. The basic idea is that work can happen anywhere: in an office, in a conference room, at the coffee shop, at home, on the bus, and so on. We believe that the Federal government can be more nimble and more productive if we empower our employees to work from anywhere. OPM is working with other agencies to create a unified vision for how mobility can be supported within the government, and we’re participating in a number of conferences and events this year to promote this idea.
Here are some of the benefits we see in creating a more mobile workforce.We believe mobile workers are more productive because they can work from anywhere. If I’m in a conference room with the right tools (like an iPad), I don’t have to say “wait until I get back to my desk and I’ll take care of that;” I can get it done right there. I probably respond to 10 or 20 emails on my Metro ride home.There’s been a lot written lately about the recruitment and retention value of allowing workers to be mobile. Job candidates are increasingly asking questions about agency policy regarding flexible hours and telework.Some kinds of jobs lend themselves more readily to mobile workers: think of folks in the field, who need to work directly with people in their homes or in neighborhoods. Think of emergency workers, public safety officers, inspectors and park rangers. Giving folks the tools to be productive in the field has a huge impact.The mobile workforce is a great way to ensure continuity of government: if you can’t get to the office but you can work from home in a disaster, the work of government can continue. In the IT world, having employees able to check on systems from their home at 2 in the morning is pretty much essential.Finally, agencies can potentially see cost savings in the form of reductions in office space as well as the cost of supporting commuting.Thinking through how to support a more mobile workforce at OPM is kind of an exercise in the principles of innovative thinking I talked about earlier. The basic question is: what things can we do right now that will help us make our workforce more mobile? Here’s a list of seven ideas that we’re embracing to get there, and you may be able to use these as well.
This is a good idea anyway, but let’s face it: paper is not as mobile as bits. Not only is it easier to be a mobile worker if you don’t have to worry about whether you remembered to bring home the right folder, it’s safer as well. I get reports of privacy breaches that happen at OPM, and I can tell you that better than 95% of them involve paper. We’ve all spent lots of money and time securing electronic systems, but processes that involve paper are neglected even though they’re risky and prone to error.
This may seem obvious, but it’s not the case at most agencies. There are usually some systems that you can’t get to unless you’re at work. Sometimes that’s by design, or because the proper technologies are not in place to allow for secure remote access. I should add to this one that all applications are available using the same remote access method. Another thing I’ve seen happen is that you do one thing for one application, and then something totally different for another application. You might even have multiple security tokens (badges, fobs, etc.) for different systems. These need to be streamlined so that you can access everything using one front door.
This is another one that may seem obvious, but at OPM we’re still building client applications. That means a piece of software that runs on the desktop and connects to a server somewhere. The reason this is a bad thing is that it’s another thing to support; you have to remember to load it on new machines, your upgrades are more complicated, and it takes longer to develop a solution because you have to build a whole client application, not just a user interface. This helps mobility because your remote workers are the hardest to support. At OPM, we’re developing nearly all new applications so that they have a Web interface, and we’re putting plans together to migrate older ones as well.
Many agencies disable wifi on client devices and do not allow it in their facilities. This makes it harder and more expensive to support mobile workers. At OPM, we’re about to release our wireless policy that will not only allow employees to use wifi capability on their devices but also enable wifi in our DC office. We have plans to roll out wifi capability to our other offices in the coming months.
This one is pretty simple: every time you send out an invite, attach a conference line and Web-based meeting space to it. Even if you don’t think any participants will use the online capability, set it up anyway. Get people in the habit of using these tools; you’ll find that it makes remote participation richer and more productive. You can easily set up access to online meeting spaces through GSA’s Networx contract; we have it to the point now that if a program office wants a new account we can set it up in a few minutes for either WebEx or LiveMeeting. Then they can use that dedicated space anytime they want. Online spaces are a ton easier than coordinating presentations and handouts through email.
Unified Communications is basically what the name implies: bringing together many different ways to communicate into a seamless experience. At OPM, we’re about to roll out what we’re calling our new phone system, but in reality it’s a whole new collaboration platform. Here are some things we’ll be able to do with it:An employee’s phone number will go with them wherever they go. Employees will be able to auto-forward calls to their mobile devices, and also use a Skype-like client on a laptop to make and receive calls (at their desk number).The same client will allows employees to access the corporate directory and set up a chat, audio call or video call with anyone at OPM. The chat (or IM) setup can be extended to outside networks like AIM or Google Chat so employees can conduct IM sessions with colleagues outside the agency. The chat function includes presence awareness, so you know if a colleague is available or not (this even ties into the calendar, so you know if someone’s in a meeting).A mobile client can be installed on a Blackberry or iPhone that connects seamlessly to the backend server to make calls, check voice mail, access the directory and more. While employees are using the mobile client, they’re using the device’s data plan so they don’t expend cellular minutes (if an employee connects to a wifi network, the device automatically rolls over to that network without dropping the call). Employees will also be able to begin a call on the desk phone, switch it over to a mobile and walk out of their office without missing a beat.Unified messaging means that employees can pick up any kind of message in their email inbox whether it’s an email, voice mail or fax. There are speech to text and text to speech features as well, so an employee can read voice mail or listen to the calendar (kinda freaky…). Voice commands also let employees dial by speaking the person’s name.All of these features mean that our employees can communicate seamlessly from anywhere, using a variety of devices.
At OPM, we’ve standardized on laptops instead of desktops. Even if we don’t consider you to be a mobile worker, you’ll have the capability to be mobile if needed. We’ve also expanded the circle of employees who can receive mobile phones and tablets, so that it’s not just for managers.
Those are just some ideas for how to enable a more mobile workforce. I’m sure you can think of others. But where do you start? Well, imagine if you just did one of these ideas a little bit. What if you migrated one application to use a Web interface? What if you embraced a technology like Instant Messaging? What if you automated one paper-based business process? Wouldn’t that feel good? Wouldn’t you feel like you started something?Remember…
Presentation to ssa 04.01.2011
OPM’s Office of the CIO<br />A Presentation For The<br />Social Security Administration:<br />Towards A Mobile Workforce<br />Friday, April 1, 2011<br />
Corporate IT sets restrictions and policies governing use of technology; people must conform because there’s no alternative</li></li></ul><li>The Reality of Abundance<br /><ul><li>IT resources are abundant
The average teenager has access to and actively uses more technology than most office workers
Many alternatives exist to corporate IT; if the users don’t like IT, they can revolt</li></li></ul><li>The Myth of Standardization<br /><ul><li>Everything in IT must be standardized
Standards create efficiencies of cost and scale; conversely, not having standards means you waste money and hurt productivity</li></li></ul><li>The Reality of Diversity<br /><ul><li>Not everything in IT must be standardized
There are people in college who have only ever used a Mac; they will be looking for jobs after they graduate
Diversity at the edge helps people be more productive; because of “open standards”, the incremental cost of supporting another device or OS is nominal</li></li></ul><li>