OPINION

Are you and your customers ready for the 'we' economy?

Federal IT leaders take note – the shift from the “me” to the “we” economy is here with increasing emphasis on delivering outcomes that provide tremendous advances in public service for citizens.

While social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies have become driving forces behind the rapid evolution of the digital business and government, a new report, Accenture Technology Vision 2015, identifies five emerging trends that U.S. federal executives should consider as they determine how to use broader technologies to create a more collaborative and productive network of sister agencies, service providers, constituents that benefit the very citizens they serve.

Several trends have emerged reflecting the shift from the “me” to the “we” economy that have important implications for federal IT:

The “Internet of Me”

The way people interact through technology places citizens at the center of every digital experience. Today, the armed forces are using virtual technology to improve training experiences by presenting real-world scenarios in a safe, effective format that is online.

Another example is the Department of Education’s StudentLoans.gov site that now covers the entire financial aid lifecycle, with an emphasis on financial literacy and awareness to help students decide not simply how to apply for aid, but the impact of the debt they will carry after they graduate. 

Outcome economy is here to stay

It’s not about selling things any more, it’s about producing results – welcome to the “outcome” economy which is the ability of organizations to create value by delivering solutions that lead to quantifiable results.

Cloud-based software analytics and visualization technologies, along with hardware sensors and increased processing power at the network edge, are all necessary components in the outcome economy.

The U.S. Air Force is using ServiceNow, a cloud-based services-management platform, to reduce the complexity of its IT and security infrastructure. The solution saves over 10 million man-hours a year through process automation and standardized forms to expedite software accreditation. As a result, the USAF has been able to move away from data entry and focus more of its resources in the fight against cyber-terrorists.

Tools aren’t enough, need to build platforms

It’s not enough for agencies to develop and deploy digital tools, they must apply their knowledge and build platforms that allow them to rapidly innovate, develop and deploy products and solutions needed to drive their digital strategies.  These platforms will enable better ways of operating and improve the service they deliver to the public. 

Essentially, the platform is a well-defined technical architecture, firm governance, and set of technology services all focused on enabling the creation of new industry-specific applications. By combining the power of technology platforms with public sector expertise, federal agencies have an opportunity to increase the value of the services they offer.

The Defense Logistics Agency has been reducing customer wait times and improving productivity through its integrated, end-to-end supply chain. DLA saw that it needed to evolve its operating model and distribution network—built largely during the Cold War—as the needs of America's military forces changed.

Software intelligence is an opportunity

Federal leaders must now view intelligent enterprise as software that propels discovery and innovation in which applications and tools take on more human-like intelligence.

The U.S. Census Bureau has made its Census.gov website a customer-centric destination by developing smart search capabilities that automatically pull information to give users precise answers and visualizations to queries on the Census.gov search page. By consolidating data across all of the agency’s digital platforms, Census created a single view of each customer enabling leadership to understand customer behavior and trends to aid in decision-making of who we are and where we are going as a nation.

Stretch the boundaries of Digital Government

Emerging demands from both citizens who increasingly engage with government through digital channels and the government’s own employee base are helping drive the adoption of technologies that better anticipate user needs, are better connected, are more agile, and are increasingly responsive.  Future applications need to be more nimble.

Embrace the human-machine symbiosis

The push to go digital is amplifying the need for humans and machines to do more together. Advances in natural interfaces, wearable devices and smart machines present new opportunities for agencies to empower their workers through technology.

Successful agencies recognize the benefits of human talent and intelligent technology working side by side, embracing both as critical members of the reimagined workforce.

NASA is teaming astronauts and robots together to face the difficult and dangerous task of cleaning up derelict satellites. Outfitted with advanced analytics algorithms and stereoscopic cameras, robot spheres are analyzing space junk to quickly map each piece’s spin, velocity, trajectory and center of mass—allowing astronauts to capture it safely.

Agencies that begin their reinvention now will be able to adapt more quickly to the pace of change, manage rising complexity and open doors to more interconnected business environments.

About the Author

Tom Greiner is the technology lead for Accenture Federal Services. He is responsible for a 4,000-person practice and oversees strategic direction, technology solutions, sales support, program delivery, and talent acquisition, development and retention.

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