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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: Special Edition

We interrupt this program for a special message

This week we kicked off our presence at some exciting events to discuss ongoing issues facing city, country, public safety, and defense leaders across the globe.

We are at a unique point in the evolution of our world and industry. Each of us is becoming more reliant on digital technologies, unleashing new and exciting opportunities for change, yet creating an ever-growing critical need for heightened safety for communities and countries, and locked-down security for data and cyber networks.

Going digital at #dsei2015 and #SmartCitiesWeekDC

In this week’s special edition post, our digital citizen has had the unique opportunity to join important discussions at Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) and Smart Cities Week.

First, our citizen will touch down in London to visit DSEI and the joint Cisco and Intel booth (N10-150) that is anchoring the newly launched Communications Zone.


Our citizen’s first days at the show were a mix of discussions with customer delegations, strategic partners, and analyst groups that focused in on the secure communications and innovative technologies that underpin all public safety, national security, and defense operations at home and abroad. Our citizen is able to visit with partners like Forfusion to talk about mission-critical communications, in particular gaining key insight to the CTO’s unique perspective. Stopping by any of the Cisco plus partner demonstrations and theater sessions in the Communications Zone is gleaning awareness and understanding to digitally enabled defense network and communications capabilities.

A quick hop to the other side of the pond, and our digital citizen is now at the Washington DC hosted Smart Cities Week.

The Smart+Connected Communities conversation is attracting a lot of event goer traffic, showing the possibilities for end-to-end connectivity across city cyber and physical environments. Our citizen was able to stop for a quick (or not-so-quick) chat with a city manager, touching on the rapid change of community culture impacting the importance of local governments and city leaders in adopting technology strategies. Meaning that elected leaders really must begin to watch trends to remain relevant and to be reelected.  Also, in summary, with each year comes a new generation of voters that dramatically changes the conversation from “what if” to “why not.”  The millennial generation has grown up as a group of digital natives and has different expectations in terms of what’s possible and what is needed, pushing the boundaries of traditional government.

Public Safety session

Many of the conversation trends picked up on the show floor focused on the importance of how technology can enable better communication and collaboration with citizens to make communities and countries safer. Emphasizing, of course, how technology will not replace officers or military, but rather, enable agencies to more effectively use personnel where it’s needed most. In both cases, city and country leaders are discussing strategies for using innovative technologies to improve outcomes across safety and security, like reducing crime and minimizing danger when disaster strikes.

Capping off the week in London will bring you theater presentations on Connected Defense, Military at the Connected Edge, Cisco and Partner solution demos, and much more. And in Washington, D.C., Cisco’s Cliff Thomas will be telling the story of Barcelona’s digital transformation and talk about how technology convergence is driving digitzation that enables new efficiencies, revenue streams, and engages citizens in unique ways.

Next Stop

Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s post to discover more on human health and wellness in the digital world. And be sure to check back each week as we explore new themes, challenges and observations.

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Additionally, you can click here and register now to get answers to your questions on how to digitize public safety and security.

Finally, we invite you to be a part of the conversation by using the hashtag #WednesdayWalkabout and by following @CiscoGovt on Twitter. For more information and additional examples, visit our Smart+Connected Communities page and our Government page on Enjoy the Wednesday walkabout!

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Does Fast IT work in Government? It sure does: check out the case studies.

In my previous post, I explained how CIOs are reinventing the mission and role of the IT department in order to support the Digital Transformation of their organisation. And that adopting a Fast IT model is less about technology and more about progressive cultural and process changes.

But is this realistic for public sector organisations as well? It sure is.  In this post and 2 following ones, I’d like to share some of the outcomes from the Fast IT engagements done with 3 IT organisations in the government sector, a sector that often has the unfair reputation of being overly conservative. I’ll show that public sector CIOs are motivated to change the status quo and disrupt the current operating model to better serve the needs of the public administration, of citizens and of businesses. Naturally, the details are confidential, so I am using pseudo-names to preserve the anonymity of our customers:

  1. Central IT department of a Large International Government Institution: let’s call it “GovIT-A
  2. Central Government IT Service Provider in Eastern Europe (providing IT services to all ministries in the country): let’s call it “GovIT-B
  3. IT Department of one of the major German Government Institution in Germany: let’s call it “GovIT-C

In each engagement, we have used the same methodology (“Strategic Roadmap to Fast IT“) consisting of 3 phases:

  • Phase One – Focus on BUSINESS: Clearly identify and document the strategic drivers for IT from the business’ perspective (or ministries, or government agencies). Indeed, you can’t ambition to build Fast IT organisation if you haven’t clearly captured what’s holding you back (the main problem often being culture, organisation and processes), and put a remediation plan in place.
  • Phase Two – Focus on IT: Build the IT Value Map to demonstrate — visually – how IT is structured to deliver value and how success will be measured. Long report are read (sometimes) and then forgotten. But you shouldn’t underestimate the communication power of a large poster in every room of the IT department (and the business): this is how you create alignment in the long run.
  • Phase Three – Focus on ROADMAP: Using output from phases one and two, identify and prioritise the key programmes and projects – the Strategic IT Roadmap – that will deliver the biggest impact, enabling a successful execution of the IT Management Plan for this year, the next 3 years and beyond.

In this post series, I’ll illustrate the outcomes from the 3 phases, using 1 client for each phase. Let’s get started…

Case Study #1 – Focus on BUSINESS

When we first started talking with GovIT-A about 2 years, the previous CIO (technically-minded) had just been replaced, mainly due to the dissatisfaction of the client departments that he was providing services to. The new CIO (business-minded) was determined to avoid the errors of the past, and wanted to build a strong foundation, based on excellence in customer services. Cisco proposed to engage on a Strategic Roadmap to Fast IT, and we received the list of 8 key stakeholders *outside* of the IT department (the “customers”), as well as the list of 8 key stakeholders inside the IT department (the “providers”).

We started by interviewing the people outside of IT, to get their perspective on the quality of the IT services they were getting. We used COBIT5 as a way to structure all the information that we collected (advantage: COBIT5 was already used by the audit department as well). COBIT5 provides a list of 17 generic enterprise business drivers, of which we identified 8 as being crucial to the future success of GovIT-A:

  1. A culture of partnership for business and IT innovation. 
    GovIT-A had a major issue: the complete lack of trust between IT and business stakeholders. Fostering collaborative attitudes was absolutely crucial for Fast IT to become a reality one day. We looked at how to build multi-level partnerships and agree on roles and responsibilities to create common goals within a shared IT Capability Framework.
  2. Managed business change programs. 
    Quickly identifying and empowering “champions of change” (both in the business and in IT) was seen as key to accelerate the transformation to Fast IT. Innovation was to be supported by top management and coordinated through agile, virtual teams. We looked at how well the operational model supported an effective change management.
  3. User-orientated service culture.
    IT was focused on its technology stacks, not on the actual services delivered to the users. A move to service-orientation was a key step towards Fast IT. Monitoring KPIs and improving processes would support this. We confirmed what the IT department and LOBs were responsible for, and reviewed how we could cut the overall cost and complexity of IT processes.
  4. Agile responses to a demanding business environment.
    IT needed to be much more agile – responsibly meeting the needs of the business in terms of time to service, flexibility and interoperability. We reviewed flexibility and the layers of authorisation that got in the way of creating a responsive IT department.
  5. Financial transparency and value for money.
    The whole procurement paradigm of GovIT-A was incompatible with a move towards Fast IT. For example, each technology team (network, server, storage, etc.) was still ordering the equipment it needed, more or less independently from the others. This meant for example that it was impossible to order an integrated compute stack. Or to order Infrastructure as a Services (IaaS). The IT department was unable to tailor its services to meet the unique expectations of the different departments in terms of cost, security and flexibility etc. This lead to each departments trying to avoid GovIT-A as much as possible, and trying to do it themselves – dramatically increasing the share of IT spend outside of the GovIT-A (around 75%!).
  6. Managed Business Risk.
    Being a government institution, no compromise could be made around information availability. However, the security team was really seen as “Doctor No”, so departments would do anything they could to find workarounds. We established the need to balance – on a per-application basis – the business benefits with its cost and the security requirements.
  7. Operational and staff productivity.
    Many employees within GovIT-A expected IT to work the way they knew was possible. With mobility. From home. Video-enabled. We discussed with the IT team how to adopt a user-centric model, powered by technologies that drive collaboration and delivered in an environment of Continuous Service Improvement (CSI). We identified quick wins, such as BYOD, mobility and telepresence initiatives, with positive results for the end user.
  8. Skilled and motivated people.
    As the IT environment evolves, so must employee’s skills. Continuously. We looked at how to create a learning curriculum that was blended, easily accessible and collaborative. Proactive, forward-looking training would help them to take on new roles and adapt to the new technologies or processes that Fast IT brings. This is all too often the piece of the strategy that’s missing to IT roadmap.

Of course, these 8 strategic drivers are not something to we can solve over the matter of a few months. It takes at least 5-7 years, to gradually evolve the IT Department to Fast IT. Today, we are pleased to continue our ongoing collaboration with GovIT-A, and seeing initiatives and projects that are approved by management, implemented in the field, and gradually reaping their benefits.

Don’t hesitate to post your comments if you’d like to get more details on some particular aspects of our engagement with GovIT-A.

In my next posts, I’ll cover the work we did with 2 other government agencies:

  • Case Study 2 (“GovIT-B”): the focus of the post will be on the IT Value Map
  • Case Study 3 (“GovIT-C”): the focus of the post will be on the Strategic Roadmap to Fast IT.

Stay tuned!


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Safer Communities and Countries in the Digital Era

Keeping citizens, communities, and countries safer 

Around the world, countries are under increasing pressure to better serve their citizens, protect critical resources, and ensure safe communities and nations. In response to these pressing challenges, governments are seeking innovative solutions to address these challenges. In the era of digital disruption, communities and countries are looking to digital solutions and intelligent connections with the Internet of Everything (IoE).

Next week I travel to London to support the newly launched Cisco and Intel Communications Zone at DSEI.  Together with our partners, we will showcase and demonstrate innovative ways to deliver mission-critical, secure communications and digitally-enabled capabilities with the Internet of Everything.






Demonstrations will include:

  • Cisco Mission Fabric Communications
  • Digital Defense Capabilities for Smart+Connected Base
  • Mission Adaptive Capabilities
  • Unified Computing on the Mission Edge
  • Premium Mobile Broadband (PMB)
  • Secure and Reliable Cisco Embedded Networks
  • Partner sessions in our presentation theatre

Read More »

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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: Appointment Day with the CIO

Citizen-centric Services in the Digital Era

Governments today face a challenging and rapidly changing environment. Ambitious reforms and revenue generating operations are taking precedence, even while a trend of cost cutting and budget tightening is taking effect. This is presenting a re-envisioned opportunity to truly bring public service to the 21st century. And these transformative efforts are coalescing around governments embracing the digital age.

The oncoming future of citizen services is less and less in the hands of governments alone. The onslaught of digital technologies has empowered the evolution of long-held government practices. The move to citizen-centered services that have been redesigned around the needs of the community user is upon us.

Read More »

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#WednesdayWalkabout Series: A Day on the Bay

The influence of the Internet is often overlooked considering its ubiquitous presence in all facets of our lives today. But we have entered a new era in the life of the Internet and it begs the question, what role will it play in the future? The Internet of Everything is paving the way in to the digital era, bringing with it the proliferation of network-connected objects, processes, living things, and mountains of data that will truly change our world.

Let’s then take a look at a concept of the connected port and the capacity of far-reaching payoffs for the cities that house them, port operators, their business customers, and the end consumers. Today’s ports play a critical role in the global economy, and are at the heart of world trade and the movement of goods. Ports in the United States alone move over $1.3 trillion in cargo annually. With that, any disruption – whether it is a criminal act or a case of simple operational inefficiencies – would be a detriment to the global economy.

As city port authorities face increased safety and security regulations and mandates, they also need to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency. Additionally, things like real-time data collection and exchange across vessels, ports, cargo and land logistics are providing new revenue streams. Local businesses can gain a competitive advantage and cities can open new economic and trade markets by embracing the Internet of Everything on its digital transformation journey.

Read More »

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