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Steve O'Keeffe

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Posted: 9/27/2012 - 2 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Green Bay & LPTA

Vince Lombardi is turning in his grave.
Seems going cheap really is more expensive.
Uncle Sam can learn a thing or two from Monday’s game. 
Forced to make contracts LPTA, many agencies are saving small, but losing big. 
Too bad government’s not a game.










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Posted: 9/23/2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Telework Tyranny?

As Putin preens, Russians are leery of a new Berlin Wall. Cuba’s not exactly Fidel friendly. Let’s face it - nobody wants into the cage. But, certain folks on Capitol Hill seem bent on terrorizing telework - the Issa Inquisition... In an election year, Feds too often become political punching bags. Let’s make sure we send a strong signal that the Telework genie ain’t going back in the bottle.

Attend tomorrow’s
Telework Exchange Town Hall Meeting at the D.C. Convention Center to show your support for Federal telework. Many local Hill folk are Telework Titans - Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md), Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va), and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.). Let’s work together to speak truth to tyranny.

Telework Exchange is MeriTalk’s sister organization.

Babies and Bathwater

Let’s not let GSA’s “Hawaii Kai” snowball into Why Telework? Nobody’d defend GSA’s $750K telework travel tab - but, let’s not let one bad apple spoil the barrel for all Feds. Yes, it wasted money. Yes, it showed poor judgment. But, consider, Uncle Sam spends more than $16 billion a year on business travel. We need to look at both sides of the balance sheet. The real question here - how much do properly managed telework programs save agencies and tax payers? And, remember GSA has a proud heritage in telework - consider greats like Billy Michael and Dr. Wendell Joice. Lots of GSA folks are teleworking within the rules.

Telework Exchange has a
calculator that shows telework savings to Federal employees - and 26,000 Feds use it to calculate their savings. Telework Exchange hosts the annual Telework Week program - some 71,000 pledged to telework in March. The savings numbers were spectacular. Now Telework Exchange is working with OPM and agencies across government on the first Federal telework productivity RoI calculator - how much do agencies save? Look out for the new calculator in the new year - real numbers to push back against the telework tyrants.

Let’s face it, GSA ran into problems with conferences - but nobody’d say no more conferences and education for Feds. If a Fed crashed a car, would we swear off Feds driving? GSA owns a leadership role. Mr. Tangherlini, we’ll provide you the numbers to make the business case.

Big-Picture Savings

And, rather than cut back on telework, there’s a strong case for Feds to double down. Telework Exchange just released a new study, Fly Me to Your Room, that shows video’s value. Here are the vital stats. Just 36 percent of Feds use video conferencing today. Video will cut 3.5 hours in travel time for each Fed each week. That’s $8 billion - with a B - in productivity savings if only half Feds use video. And, Feds are optimistic - 84 percent think videoconferencing usage will increase in the next five years.

Telework is a reality of modern life - it’s vital to productivity and efficiency for a government that needs to do more with less. Have there been gaffes - absolutely. Let’s focus on management. The genie’s not going back in the bottle. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Hope to see you tomorrow at the
Town Hall Meeting.


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Posted: 9/20/2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Bespoke Barrier?

Pennsylvania Avenue makes Savile Row look like a flea market. You see, nowhere in the world will you find so many organizations gadding ‘round town in tailor-made IT duds. A new MeriTalk study on Mission-Critical Cloud McCloud, if you will - provides a unique glimpse into Uncle Sam’s application wardrobe. And, Yankee Doodle’s dandy IT ways are expensive. The study tells us Feds spend more than half the $78.9 billion IT budget on mission-critical apps.

FIPS Like a Glove?

The ultimate IT fashion critic, Dave Powner at GAO, tells us there are 600 HR systems in the Federal government. Fed IT execs in the study follow suit - noting that 52 percent of Federal mission-critical applications are custom built. This bespoke barrier makes mainstream movement to the cloud cost prohibitive - 45 percent of Fed IT execs say it would take major reengineering to modernize today’s apps for the cloud.

McCloud and Moolah

That said, it’s not all damp flannel and the smell of old mothballs. Fed IT’s motivated to dump the sad rags. IT execs in the study project we could save $16.6 billion by moving three mission-critical apps to the cloud in each agency. And, it’s more than window shopping. Respondents note that their agency is buying McCloud.

And, it’s insightful to get an eyeful of the McCloud fashion. In light of the complexity of legacy apps - not just security concerns - Feds are opting for private McCloud. Of Feds wearing McCloud, 38 percent have opted for the private cut. But, private’s not the only hip look - 11 percent have moved to hybrid and 10 percent have opted for public McClouds.

McCloud and McClure

With the rush to private cloud, Feds are scratching their heads about why FedRAMP’s so much in vogue. If FedRAMP only applies to public clouds - if more than half IT spend is on mission-critical apps - and if most agencies are slipping into private clouds - isn’t GSA’s baby in danger of becoming IT bell bottoms, or worse still, the ascot?

Lose the Lid?

Looking to the future, agencies like the cut of McCloud’s jib. Fed IT execs predict that 26 percent of mission-critical apps will slip into cloud in the next two years - and 44 percent in five years. Sounds like McCloud is to traditional enterprise IT, what JFK or Elvis were for the hat - many Feds plan to trade in classic mission-critical couture for McCloud mojo. That said, it’s certainly not a mass movement today - due to app complexity, many agencies plan to leave the hat on.

Want to get hip on new McCloud trends?  Download the new study at And, Fed fashionistas can also pull up a seat by the catwalk for the webinar, Wednesday, October 17th, at 1:00 p.m. EDT - Be there or be square…

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Posted: 9/13/2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Switch Orientation?

Jeopardy. The world’s biggest switching and routing company. That’s easy Alex - who is Cisco? Wrong. Err, Juniper. Is that your final answer? Okay Regis, who is Avaya? Focus, please - try again. Brocade. Come on now. The correct answer - who is Ericson? Surprised? I was. Always interesting reading the Economist.
But more interesting than Ericson’s primacy, is the number-two player - the company poised to switch places with Ericson. Huawei - pronounced wah-way, not to be confused with the Pennsylvania 711 outfit. Not only are the U.S. players smaller than I could have imagined, the North American market looks like old tins and bits of string.
Who is Huawei?
Founded by Ren Zhengfei in 1987 with about $5,000, Huawei rode the soaring dragon of China’s modernization to post $16 billion in revenue for the first half of 2012. Labeled a “pirate” for allegedly shanghaing Cisco’s IP in the early days, today Huawei ranks among the IT industry’s most prodigious registrants of patents. Headquartered in Shenzhen, the company operates in 140 countries worldwide. It employs almost 150,000. And, hold onto your rice bowl for the revenue explosion - $32 billion for 2011, 10-fold growth in a single decade.
Occidental Onus?
But what does the rising dragon mean for the West, the U.S. market, and Uncle Sam? Huawei’s strength in EMEA is not just about low-balling in Africa. Huawei has won big 4G wireless plumbing contracts in Europe. While India and Australia have blocked market entry, Canada has welcomed Huawei onto the network. The company does a lot of business with the U.K. government - it hired her majesty’s CIO to bridge the language and the trust gap. While the U.S. market’s small versus Asia Pac and EMEA, Huawei has little to no penetration - and we’re clearly on the menu for growth. And yes, that means D.C. too - Andy Purdy, former head of DHS NCSD just stepped onto Huawei’s payroll.
Confucius Confusion
“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves…”
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) led the charge against Chinese IT in 2006 when he tilted at a State Department award to Lenovo for laptops. There are security supply chain concerns hanging over Huawei - covert connections - although no proof of any sleight of hand. Let's go back to Jeopardy for the dismount...
What if Huawei is LPTA, will Uncle Sam buy? The iPad’s made in China - and Feds are eating them like fortune cookies. What if Huawei makes its products in America? And then the bigger picture questions. What will Uncle Sam do if the technology leadership goes West - off the coast of California? Can we afford to trade Apple pie for low cost, high innovation in a budget constrained world? And, if we’re going to erect barriers to imports, what does that mean for U.S. tech exports…?

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Posted: 9/5/2012 - 2 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

IT Moves on @ DoT

This is not your father’s DoT IT. Ain’t it appropriate that the ‘90s car tagline fits - except, where it was an empty tagline at Oldsmobile, the change engine is firing on all six at DoT. I had the opportunity to pull up alongside Nitin Pradhan, CIO at Transportation, recently. And, yes, he did remind me a little of Lee Iaccoca.

100-Point Turn
No, I’m not talking Austin Powers - more on the turn maneuver later.
Putting the car in first, Pradhan focused on two stakeholder communities - IT and the business owners. “This is not an either/or proposition,” he underlined. “To win, we need to get both parties to embrace change - and, critically, to enhance the relationship on both the supply and demand sides to achieve the mission.”
“We knew we had to take a new approach - and that a lot had to change,” said Pradhan. “So, we decided to unleash 100 new ideas - agile, small changes. We also knew every model would not succeed. The idea was to listen to our customers - and prototype iteratively.” And, yes, there was an Edsall or two in the new line up. “Eighty five or so of our 100 crossed the finish line. As other change vehicles sputtered, we just waved them into the pit lane. To effectively change, you need to experiment. The secret is to listen to the customer, place a lot of small bets, and watch carefully.”
“BHP’s not Break Horse Power, it’s Better Human Performance - that was the number-one priority in our IT makeover,” said Pradhan. “We have lots of IT folks at DoT. As people retire or leave, we encourage managers to downgrade appropriate positions, freeing up some much needed financial resources for hiring a sea of talented pros and paid interns and have them coached and mentored by our experienced, expert professionals. Like an internal combustion engine, you need spark then compression to generate horsepower. Young people and new ideas spark change - experienced experts manage change.”
Torquing Training
“Like most Federal IT departments, we don’t have sufficient IT training dollars - bringing in new young folks to energize the workforce is great, but we needed training for new recruits,” said Pradhan. “Let me underline that young folks are great, but we also need to retain the valuable experienced employees we have today in the department. If you don’t invest in your team’s skills, the good folks leave and the remainder quickly become irrelevant in the face of rapid tech change. So, we started our own internal training academy.”
“We invited CIOs from tech leaders to come in and present to our IT teams,” said Pradhan. “Oracle, IBM, Boeing quickly lined up on the ramp. And, we reached beyond IT.” He explained how the Chief Innovation Officer from VW and many other industry titans pulled into the visitor spot at DoT. Next, Pradhan focused on harnessing the knowledge of innovative technology vendors. “We have hundreds calling us to sell new products and we needed to create a win-win” so DoT set up the Technology Evaluation and Learning Series (TELS), a forum to discuss new technologies applicable to DoT. “These are not sales pitches but serious, rounded discussions around a particular technology and the business value it can deliver for DoT.”
“Our training academy has proved a big hit. The opportunity to learn from the best and brightest - on the latest - all for free,” grinned Pradhan. “And, most captured on video so that our personnel can access on demand any time. Live and on demand - that’s a great hybrid training strategy. We’ve got great mileage out of a non-existent training budget. And our morale in IT has never been higher.”  
Riding Shotgun
But Pradhan realized that DoT would not succeed even if IT delivered significant improvements working with the IT staff and the business owners. A third, and critical audience, needed to rev it up. “Contractors are critical - and that means we understand, respect and partner with them to maximize public value,” said Pradhan. 
“We wanted to motivate and inspire a new generation of agile, innovative companies - and that means spending time with start ups and high-growth companies.” The challenge for Pradhan was how to find the time to meet with, and mentor contractors, while engaging other internal stakeholders. Here's that innovation thing again. Pradhan lives in Reston. He would pick up contractors and they would ride with him on his commute to and from the DoT office in Southeast D.C. “It provided a great opportunity for real conversations.”
And, yes, with DoT’s IT on the move, I regret to inform, so is Nitin Pradhan. Since we chatted, he’s left DoT to launch “Public Private Innovations" the nation's first Federal technology accelerator program to grow the next generation of companies, products, and service for the public sector. "Public value with private growth" is his mantra - stay tuned for more news on Twitter @NitinPradhanCIO. The upside, as DoT watches Pradhan in the rear view mirror, it’s great to have Tim Schmidt in the driver’s seat. Schmidt’s got both hands on the wheel and his foot on the gas.

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