Future of Work
Enterprise information management (EIM) is a foundation for transformation and innovation. EIM is defined as a set of technologies, processes, disciplines, and practices used to manage an organization’s data and content as an enterprise asset. The growing presence in the workplace of technology that automates tasks, processes, and jobs is driving the Future of Work (FoW). IDC defines FoW as a fundamental change that:
- Fosters human-machine collaboration
- Transforms worker behaviours and skills as well as organizational culture and employee experience
- Supports a dynamic work environment, not bounded by time of day or physical space
IDC further defines three key areas where the worker experience is significantly altered by technology:
- Work culture: The evolution of talent sourcing models to an agile, virtual, borderless, and task-oriented approach with new metrics/new methodologies for sourcing, developing, attracting, and retaining talent
- Workforce: The application of intelligent technologies to reshape the way work tasks are performed; these technologies augment and automate work while creating new value within the organization
- Workspace: Dynamic, agile, and smart work environments that are not bounded by time or space
Technologies Enabling Work Culture, Workspace, and Workforce
Workspace: dynamic, agile, smart environments enabling secure collaboration
- Endpoint management / security
- Virtual client computing
- Unified Communications and collaboration
- Enterprise social networks
- Smart meeting rooms
- Team collaboration and content
Work culture: sourcing, developing, attracting and retaining talent
- HR analytics
- Talent communities and engagement platforms
- Knowledge hubs
- Human capital management
- Enterprise performance management
Workforce: intelligent technologies to augment and automate work
- AI software / predictive analytics
- Digital assistances, RPA
- Process automation software
Key Business Priorities
Digital transformation (DX) is a priority for government executives. Public sector organizations are under pressure to improve capacity and outcomes due to changing citizen needs and expectations as well as shifting legislative and stakeholder expectations. Services often exist in silos of isolation due to disconnected systems and processes. Agencies must also incorporate legislative and policy changes into programs challenged by reduced staff and the retirement of experienced employees. As a result, critical priorities include managing the creation, capture, use, and eventual life cycle of all data, structured and unstructured, for effective digital processes and workflows that enable closer, more effective relationship with customers and employees.
Public sector priorities also include reshaping the workforce and maximizing employee performance for effective and efficient mission achievement and improved service delivery. Public sector IT and line-of-business executives are seeking solutions that make human capital more efficient and operations more scalable, and support a better, modern user experience. Agencies also seek to enable a digitally connected workforce with on-demand reporting and analysis, and line-of-business managers seek to automate and routinize tasks through machine learning (ML) for real-time decisioning, compliance management, and tracking workforce priorities.
These priorities support the need to create an integrated enterprise information environment.
Initiatives for digital government around the globe call for a new digital era in the public sector. However, the reality is very often a huge paper trail in providing benefits and information, slowing down processes and affecting responsiveness in citizen services. Legacy constraints and incremental fixes won’t cut it any longer. Some legacy systems contain decades of citizen information siloed within disparate and disjointed servers, and transitioning these workloads to cloud needs to be part of an overall long-term enterprise information strategy. Upgrades to intelligent, cloud-based systems offer the opportunity to leapfrog ahead. Agencies are modernizing government services to provide experiences to citizens that are similar to what they experience in their daily lives when dealing with online and/or multichannel banking, shopping, or travel experiences. This trend to place more workloads in cloud is steadily increasing, allowing agencies to update to the latest versions, enhance security and capability, enable rapid deployment of new functionality, spin up new features, support fully functioning always-on access to information and services, provide options for personalization, and deploy seamless support across multiple channels.
- Robotic process automation: Agencies are deploying AI-enabled bots to reduce errors and delays in the enrollment process via digital verification, as well as errors in benefit administration to ensure that benefits are accurately delivered. Bots can read and process email, look for new files in group folders, provide feedback in real time when exceptions to work instructions are encountered, and report everything upon completion. Agencies recognize the value cloud brings to not only ease of use but also the ability to easily add artificial intelligence and
machine learning to automate and revitalize internally and externally facing processes as part of a larger enterprise digital transformation.
- Cloud: Agencies are also deploying cloud-based solutions to connect devices such as IoT and collect, combine, and manage data from different domains; provide a unified view and enable more responsive operations by leveraging digitally connected, secure information; solve the computational challenges of processing workforce management data in real time; and simplify secure access to data and analytics for all users.
- Future of Work: The public sector has an abundance of multistructured data to handle, identify, classify, label, tag, store, retrieve, and use for data-driven decisioning. Agencies recognize that AI can automate these contentcentric processes as a key transformation initiative. As public sector organizations face increasing competition from other government entities and from private sector companies in attracting and retaining talent, deploying FoW technologies is becoming an important tool in their competitive arsenal. By offloading arduous repetitive tasks from workers via automation, agencies can enhance employee experience with collaborative tools to share critical information in a timely fashion and improve accuracy, creating a more efficient, transparent, and reliable way of filing, processing, and completing tasks. FoW content and collaboration tools enable case workers to easily import relevant documents for review, route cases to the appropriate business flow process, auto-assign analysts to cases based on type, and maximize time and resources involved in organizing and processing requests for services and information. Because employees no longer need to follow up manually for additional information, content sharing and collaboration tools can increase efficiencies in serving constituents and enable the department to repurpose personnel for more meaningful work. A recent IDC survey of public sector decision makers indicates that collaboration software is an important driver for digital transformation (see Figure 2).
The New Digital Acquisition Reality
For Dr. Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, the future of defense acquisition is now. In a report on September 15, he laid out his vision for altering the very nature of the acquisition process, which calls on industry and the DoD to adopt the concept of digital acquisition. It is meant to create a significantly “faster, agiler, and more competitive weapons-buying process” that will profoundly decrease cost, foster a healthier industrial base, and dictate America’s long-term innovative success. While this intended shift is directed currently towards Air Force and Space Force it is part of a broader goal of integrating the entire U.S. military into a more cohesive fighting force of which acquisition is the foundational step. If adopting this new approach fails, he believes the risk of losing competition to adversarial militaries in China and Russia will exponentially increase.
Digital acquisition emphasizes a commitment to open architecture and agile software, as well as digital engineering and management. Simply expressed, this ‘digital trinity’ is meant to foster a virtual acquisition process where hundreds of programs and systems can be designed, assembled, tested, and even sustained before the first parts are purchased or used in reality. According to Dr. Roper, it is this ‘Matrix-like simulation realism’ with the newer slogan of ‘eCreate Before You Aviate’ that is so exciting for both the Department and industry.
Central to this form of acquisition is creating ‘tech stacks’ that integrate various layers within it and are accessible enterprise-wide as a Service (aaS) to every program, platform, team, and operator. These layers include Cloud aaS (#cloudOne), Artificial Intelligence aaS (#smartOne Platform), aaS (#platformOne), Model-Based System Engineering aaS (#mbseOne), Data aaS (#dataOne), Data Analytics aaS (#analyzeOne), and hopefully Edge aas (#deviceOne). Ultimately, the goal is to transfer these tech stacks to the ‘edge’ in order to enable the warfighter access to continuously improving software and capabilities. This requires a digital acquisition process to achieve.
What This Means for Industry
The goal of digital acquisition does not only aim to create a single unified infrastructure able to manage many competing offerings seamlessly under the Department’s purview. For Dr. Roper, this ‘One’ infrastructure and its combined tools must be available to industry to ensure that the acquisition process has continuity. A digitally shared process enables industry and government to manage the common tech baseline, design review, cost basis, workflow manager, test point anchor, and authority to operate. Moreover, this government infrastructure “will provide companies with cyber-secure infrastructure, cross-classification IT independent of hardware, and much faster capability generation leveraging automatic government classifications in the [tech] stack itself.”
This will place a substantial weight on the ability of the Department to maintain this infrastructure, certification processes, training, and data to ensure a continuum of lifecycle activities. But, Dr. Roper believes the payoff is massive and facilitates the acquisition process in shedding concurrency, learning curves, integration risks, etc.
Adopting digital engineering and management, agile software, and open architecture ensures that digital lifecycles mirror physical ones. It allows a transition to digital lifecycles that is not only de-risked, but one where programs, especially new ones, will also be significantly more cost-effective and time-saving. Here, programs are simulated in a digital acquisition process where utility is illustrated by the fact that success of a program can now be determined virtually before procurement begins.
In this respect, Dr. Roper believes this digitally-enabled approach will impact the ways in which the Department will acquire and field new capabilities. He expresses that it is the Department’s objective to introduce smaller, iterative lots that transition away from mega-primes and “generate more modernization and sustainment savings than [it] loses to procurement and RDT&E efficiencies.”
Given this objective based on limited platforms and mission systems, digital acquisition signifies a shifting manner in which primes and suppliers will be selected. Following the example of The Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, leveraging this new tech stack will require mission systems to be developed separately; particular government teams will select the optimal system-platform pairs. The goal of this is to enable a reality of “a continuous competitive ecosystem where the latest tech can go on the latest jet.”
Moreover, the imperative of incorporating agile software is meant to streamline potential integration difficulties across vendors, ensure competition of mission apps and safety-critical code remain separate, and distribute code among all platforms.
Invoking Dr. Roper’s metaphor of ‘The Matrix’, the risks are too high for the DoD and industry to not take the ‘red pill’ and adopt the digital acquisition process.