How to move tech from disruptive to sustainable

Disruptive technologies can become catalysts for sustainability when public policies and private initiatives align and create long-term benefits.

Disruptive technologies and delivery models have evolved into catalysts for sustainability. Society now has an opportunity to synchronize public policies with private initiatives to generate long-term benefits for our urban and rural communities across America.

Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic there is heightened interest in identifying positive “silver linings” and lessons learned. In business theory, disruptive innovation is a type of improvement that creates a new market or value through efficiencies or capabilities. These disruptive technologies and/or services shakeup existing markets, displacing, and replacing established market-leaders, top brands, successful products, and proven alliances.

The positive aspects of this change come from two sources: 1) disruptive technologies and delivery models – including cloud and enterprise IT-as-a-Service (EITaaS) and 2) synchronization of public policies with existing private initiatives to generate long-term benefits for our citizens and communities.

Source #1, the global adoption of “cloud” has enabled truly scalable Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) services, producing much-needed EITaaS offerings. Crucial access to EITaaS services, such as voice/video conferencing, became lifelines for communication during the pandemic, as well as essential digital transformation programs for the U.S. Army and Air Force.

But how has EITaaS navigated the journey from simply disruptive to sustainability? The answer is subtle but important. “The [US Army EITaaS] program will bring enhanced, industry-supplied capabilities to the Army enterprise system, reducing the burden on soldiers to maintain the network enterprise infrastructure. Ultimately, EITaaS will improve IT availability, resiliency, security and affordability, while enhancing the user experience.” (Enterprise IT as a Service (EITaaS) | PEO EIS (army.mil) This quote from the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) holds the key for the progression to sustainability. Both cost effectiveness and resource efficiency matter, meaning that organizations consuming EITaaS can perform better by focusing their human capital on core organizational missions (or business for commercial entities). By reallocating funds, greater focus can be placed on workforce development and training programs. The term digital transformation is applicable here because it encompasses taking advantage of innovative technology to reimagine an organization's processes, culture, people and customer experience.

Source #2, public-sector and private-sector organizations that invest in skilling and reskilling their people create a self-perpetuating cycle for continued education and career-long learning, which is not only at the heart of individual and community sustainability, but also a critical part of our country’s economy and national security.

Fortunately, examples of workforce sustainability initiatives are prevalent across the public-sector IT market including: Cloud Service Providers (CSP) such as AWS that have committed millions of dollars to reskilling their own employees as well as funding their global reskilling program for non-employees called AWS re/Start (AWS re/Start (amazon.com)), and enterprise IT service providers such as ServiceNow with their digital literacy program call Digital Workforce Challenge (MIT Digital Workforce Challenge - Global Impact - ServiceNow).

Society now has an opportunity to synchronize public policies with existing private initiatives to generate long-term benefits. The White House’s Immediate Priorities includes investing in the jobs of the future, and many federal agencies have programs and policies to encourage skilling and reskilling; however, greater awareness is a challenge for public and private sector initiatives, even for programs that are offered for free.

Recognizing that disruptive technologies (cloud), disruptive service models (EITaaS), and Digital Transformation are rapidly changing the game for everyone involved, now is the time to better synchronize government interests and funding to prepare individuals for the jobs of the future with the technology firms that are inventing and innovating to create the jobs of the future.

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