Empowering the Federal CIO

Like other government and business entities across the globe this year, United States federal agencies been disrupted by this pandemic since its start, but they’ve also benefitted in unexpected ways. It has acted as a sort of forcing function, incentivizing agency leadership to invest in IT modernization. The charge began with remote working tools and platforms. A series of rapid deployments in March and April this year highlighted challenges around aged or undersized infrastructure, causing federal agencies to critically inspect their datacenter capabilities in search for opportunities to modernize.

The phrase “IT Modernization” is not new to federal CIOs, but its evolution from proactive initiative to urgent necessity has influenced those with federal spending authority to readjust their priorities. As a result, operational efficiency has taken on a newfound importance to federal stakeholders both inside and outside of IT.

Automation, powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, has been pushed to the forefront as a potential solution. The promise of optimizing both infrastructure resources and day-to-day human labor hours is now well within reach for many federal agencies. For those with mission needs and a willingness to invest, the only roadblock to automation implementation is a hesitation to grant control to a machine or algorithm.

For agencies without a trove of automation past-performance experience, making the push to deploy automation in steps will be important to increasing comfort. Every successful testing and validation win will develop well-earned trust in the technology, and encourage innovation in new implementations until its benefits are realized at scale.Agency employees concerned automation may replace them find it actually allows them to work on a more strategic level, evolving from button-pushers to innovators and entrepreneurs. Time saved balancing workloads or configuring switches allows them to ask higher-level questions, including: What additional services can I deliver to my end-user? How can I improve and innovate? Where can we cut costs?

Automation is a crucial component of operational efficiency and IT modernization. Proof is in the countless successful implementations in industry where CIOs have the autonomy and budget authority to enact modernization initiatives as they best see fit. In the federal government, it will take continued buy-in from across agency leadership. Stakeholders both inside and outside of IT will need to rally around and empower their CIO to enact continued meaningful change.