Data Centers Continue Their Starring Role

 

Around this same time last year we wrote about the federal government's focus on consolidating data centers for better IT efficiency. The Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) that is driving changes across government has extended its deadlines for agency compliance. Originally, agencies were to meet a variety of consolidation, energy efficiency, and cost reduction goals by the end of calendar year 2018. With fewer than one in five Federal data center leaders saying that their data center was on track to meet their DCOI goals, an extension seemed inevitable. Now, agencies have until 2020 to install energy metering tools, use automated monitoring and operations, maximize floor space use in existing data centers, reduce data center costs by 25%, in addition to a number of other cost savings and efficiency goals.

In addition to DCOI, agencies are also looking to comply with the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT) that looks at government IT as a whole, incorporating data centers into the overall plans to modernize how government procures and uses technology for citizen service.

A third driver for modernizing the data center is the desire to do more with the data we have. No longer is a data center a place to store information, it is a place to interact with information. Continue reading

Continuing Efforts to Make Cloud a Government Reality

Cloud Computing has moved from a fringe technology that agencies were willing to try to a mainstream part of IT strategy and infrastructure. CloudFirst guidance from the executive branch got agencies looking at cloud as an option as they modernize systems. FedRAMP provided a standard for cloud security for government, easing the fears that a move to cloud meant a less secure system. Agencies have provided a host of guidance on how to use the cloud in their particular environments and for their missions. The intelligence community even went so far as to design a cloud that meets the specific needs of its users.

But even with this growing comfort, it's been a slow implementation process. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security set up a cloud steering group after realizing that of their 584 applications only 29 were currently in the cloud, and another 52 were in the process of moving. They understood the cost and performance benefits of cloud but needed a way to accelerate the move. Beyond the technical aspect of designing cloud for government, there are also policy issues including a Supreme Court-level discussion of how and when cloud providers have to release data that they store. Continue reading

The No Phone Zone: Cell Phone Blackouts at Events

We've written here in the past about embracing attendees' love of mobile devices and how to integrate mobile into events. While including the use of mobile can make the event more interactive and also help appeal to a younger demographic, sometimes you just want attendees to focus. We'd like to take a look at what events would look like if phones, tablets, and computers were banned from events.

This thought likely made many of you gasp. Hours away from your phone and connectivity can be unnerving. A study from Deloitte found that people in the U.S. ages 18 to 75 check their device approximately 47 times per day. Even with this innate reliance on phones and the amplification social media can provide a brand, many entertainers are pushing for their fans to go dark. Musicians including Alicia Keys, Guns N' Roses, Adele and comedians Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock are calling their concerts and performances "phone-free zones." Rock even goes so far as to have any phone using offenders escorted out of the venue. Continue reading

If You Build It They Will Come? Not Always. Converting Registrants to Attendees

When we surveyed our GovEvents' organizer members in the fall, we asked an open-ended question, "What is your biggest challenge as an event organizer in the government space?" We received a wide variety of answers, but the response that came up most often was converting registrants to attendees.

This conversion challenge is not unique to the government market but may be exacerbated by the fact that so many events are free for government attendees. On average, free events see a conversion rate of 40% to 50% of registrants actually attending. Continue reading

Trends and Tactics for the Government Customer Experience

The recently released President's Management Agenda (PMA) is focused on the issue of declining trust in government. In the report, this lack of trust is tied to the poor customer service citizens receive from government. In the age of Amazon, Uber, and social media reliance, the level of service people expect from companies has dramatically changed. Citizens expect to be able to contact organizations on their terms (via mobile, online chat, email, phone) and that when they connect with someone, they will have all relevant data at their fingertips. While that has been a reality in the commercial sector, it's a fairly new concept for government.

In 2014 President Obama made citizen service a cross agency priority. Since that time agencies have made large strides in improving how they interact with the citizens they serve. In fact, according to the 2017 ACSI Federal Government Report, citizen satisfaction with government service is at its highest levels since 2006. But there is still much work to be done. Continue reading