My role over the past 20 years in technology has been a customer partner, industry observer, and organizational leader. In each of these roles, I have consistently seen that there are crucial decision points that determine if an organizational initiative will be successful. Most commonly, these decision points center around the Digital Dilemma and the uncertainty agencies have the best path to move to the cloud. The first critical step successful agencies take when taking on a transformational effort like this is charting a well-defined path to the cloud (albeit after deciding to first move) and the below are a few key “pivots” to achieving success.

In my last three blogs, I've been exploring the digital dilemma – what it is, what it means to your organization, and the impact it can have on achieving your mission. The next question is - “how are successful agencies solving it?”


Pivot 1: Familiarity vs. New Opportunities


Change is hard. And, change in an organizational setting is no exception. Outside of the technical and organizational challenges, internal politics can play a heavy role in an agency’s ability to innovate.

This tends to be the case when it comes to new systems, new tools, or new processes, and our work with the Government Business Council found that the number of respondents who are satisfied or very satisfied with the ability of their organizations’ IT infrastructure to advance mission objectives is almost equal to the number of respondents who feel that their organization’s current IT infrastructure is capable of adapting to evolving needs (41% and 42%, respectively). That means that approximately 60% are questioning the current capabilities and future applicability of their organization’s IT infrastructure.

The trick is to look for ease. Ask yourself:

  • How are people used to engaging with an existing system or process?
  • What types of questions are they accustomed to answering?
  • What expectations do they have in terms of visibility, handoff points, or updates?

If you can finding a way to deliver new, modern, digital tools within the context of current processes and creating something simple enough and innovative enough that can be handed off without significant training makes it easy to shift that 40% to being more receptive to future opportunities. 


Pivot 2: Step-by-Step Strategy vs. Comprehensive strategy


Later in the survey, respondents were asked: “what best describes your organization’s cloud strategy?” The results were no surprise: the number of participants that said their organization takes a piecemeal approach (deploying solitary solutions point-by-point) with no current overarching strategy was equal to the number that said their organization has a comprehensive evaluation, investment, and implementation strategy. 

And here’s where it gets tricky – a piecemeal approach demands change or an organization experiences a rapid period of growth. In these situations, the needs often outpace the builds – a scenario that almost always ends in a Frankenstein-like construction (you can read more about this IT pitfall, as well as others, in one of my earlier blogs here).

I’ve seen many Agencies successfully navigate this pivot by applying best practices around the 3 key areas:

  • Combine line-of-business and IT subject matter expertise. Doing so will help you avoid any “square peg, round hole” situations that can cap growth potential down the road.
  • Keep everyone and everything operating on a common playing field, ensuring that shared learnings can be applied to iterative, agile design methodologies.
  • Create an overarching, core platform strategy from the missions very real actions, stacking up quick wins without sacrificing long-term success.


See how others are addressing these questions at Dreamforce
Dreamforce, our annual user conference, is the best place to hear how leaders from all industries are answering questions that otherwise deter digital transformation. Join us in San Francisco, November 6 – 9 for a week of hands-on training opportunities, best practice sharing, and networking with those that have trail blazed this path.
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Pivot 3: Prioritize by Barrier vs. Prioritize by Benefit


“IT personnel are overwhelmed with their workload, preventing realistic customer service timeframes,” said one survey respondent.

Our Government Business Council survey found that employees would like their organizations to prioritize the following five areas over the next couple years, and how that wish list compares to cloud barriers:

Employees Want…

  • Efficiency/productivity tactics
  • IT training/development
  • Employee morale
  • Investment in state-of-the-art technologies
  • Mobility/data accessibility

But feel their organizations are held back by…

  • Budget constraints
  • Security concerns
  • Legacy migration difficulties
  • Lack of in-house IT expertise
  • Lack of cloud leadership/strategy (go back and re-read Pivot 2)

This doesn’t have to be a trade-off.

Increased efficiency and productivity levels help organizations do more with the same resources and by doing so budgets can be reallocated to other stressed areas. Further, investing in training around system design and deployment a can mitigates many security concerns - making it easier for an organization to support the kind of platforms that enable the kind of modern productivity tools today’s workforce has come to expect.

Lastly, attracting and maintaining top IT talent is crucial in a complex industry like public sector, where demanding regulations and a commitment to serve a broader scope of customers can be challenging. Focusing on delivering tools (like mobile or social) that improve an employee’s ability to achieve the mission give employees better visibility to the impact their work has on the mission in addition to increasing morale.

Stay tuned — in my next blog, I'll be going to further into the criteria a cloud platform must meet in order to successfully address the digital dilemma.