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with minimal disruption gave DOD leaders an unintended use case for modernization.
“COVID hits and you suddenly realize that there is the potential that a lot of people are now going to be distracted [and] working on a lot of really important things,” he said. “Will things like digital modernization potentially suffer?”
Fortunately, Deasy said, the pandemic seemed to have the opposite effect. “It has absolutely accelerated digital modernization. Our ability to go from nobody sharing on a Microsoft Teams environment to over 1.1 million people in under...four months was a huge win.”
Shifting to widespread telework forced DOD to get serious about zero trust, a security philosophy that requires users to be continuously authenticated and authorized. “The money, the attention, the energy
we are putting toward solving for highly secure collaborations [and] environments using zero trust architectures have been dramatically accelerated,” he said.
“All of a sudden, collaboration became the single most important thing that we could do and help the Department of Defense,” he added. “So now we have pivoted a lot of energy, focus and dollars around how we actually accelerate the Microsoft 365 rollout, moving that onto a highly secure environment.”
Passing the baton
Even in a year packed with uncertainty, Deasy said his top concern has been sustainability. “The single biggest thing I am worried about and what I’m spending the majority of my time on right now is what I call sustainability of digital modernization,” he added. “Any leader should be able to walk away
from what they’re doing, whenever that day is, and they should be able to say confidently, ‘The leaders being left behind, the culture that’s being left behind and the program of work that’s being left behind is going to sustain because it’s just so embedded there is no going back.’”
Likewise, he said the next person who steps into the DOD CIO role should be able to say: “I’ve already got a winning team here. I don’t need to change anybody out. I’ve got a strategy that’s clear. There’s energy. There’s momentum. I can’t mess it up. I have to go deliver this now because it’s so embedded.”
After he leaves, Deasy said he’d like to read about DOD in the news and say, “‘The department got it’ because if that happens, then I feel like my legacy is one of that I actually helped defend our country. I helped our warfighters.” n
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