Page 45 - FCW, September/October 2021
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How culture
Cloud technology set the stage for disruption, but people are powering the real change
Innovation is one of the biggest buzzwords in today’s public-sector marketplace. Government customers are looking for new solutions that promise efficiency and better mission outcomes, and contractors are boosting their ability to deliver those solutions.
Technologies that fuel innovation are constantly evolving, and it can be difficult for government contractors to differentiate their solutions from those of their competitors. Some key questions include: What does innovation look like? And how does a government contractor ensure that it delivers real results and can separate itself from competitors?
Many of the answers lie not in technology, but in culture and people. To explore this issue more deeply, Washington Technology convened a roundtable of top executives to share their insights on innovation and culture. We also discussed what they expect from themselves and what they look for in their customers.
Although the conversation was on the record, we operated under the Chatham House Rule that executives’ comments would not be attributed to them or their companies. See page 44 for the list of participants.
Applying cloud’s lessons to emerging solutions
Before discussing the current and near-term innovations that are disrupting the market, we looked back at the evolution of cloud computing and how it has changed the public sector in the past decade.
“Fundamentally, it has transformed the enterprise,” one executive said. “It has transformed how we develop software and how we deploy software.”
The broad shifts away from data centers and into public and private clouds have driven innovation by changing the roles and responsibilities of IT professionals and changing the way agencies procure technology.
“The government had to go through a big learning curve on how to even buy it,” another executive said. “Some basic assumptions about how long it takes to do things and how to account for success from your suppliers really changed in that cloud paradigm.”
Cloud’s ongoing rise offers lessons and warnings for newer technologies such as artificial intelligence. Several executives described cloud as “still in the early innings,” which means it isn’t done being a disruptor.
Cloud continues to enable and drive the adoption of com- mercial technologies and open architectures. “There is a general trend toward commercial technologies that are widely used, are open and can be leveraged across many programs,” one participant said.
Along the way, customers and contractors alike have learned that they need to be skeptical about the hype. For example, an early sales pitch for cloud technology emphasized the money it would save, but those savings never came.
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