Expert: Lean IT staffs drive the need for innovation in government (with related video)
Editor’s note: as part of its series on paths to innovation in government products and processes, Government Product News checked in with Patrick Conte, senior vice president and general manager of worldwide field operations at Accellion.
Accellion provides mobile solutions to enterprises to enable increased business productivity while ensuring security and compliance. The firm offers private cloud solutions for secure file sharing. Its kiteworks by Accellion is a mobile-first product with three-tier private cloud architecture. The product is designed to enable people to work securely in any location. Here are the views of Patrick Conte of Accellion.
GPN: Is product innovation taking place in the government market?
Patrick Conte: Local government is under increasing pressure to do more with less. In fact, the ratios of IT staff to local government employees is among the most skewed of all small and medium business segments, with fewer IT staff to more employees than in the private sector. So local government agencies have no choice but to turn to more innovative solutions to try to keep up with the demands of their users and citizenry.
Many local government entities are starting to try to be truly paperless, i.e., communicate with their citizens via e-mail, web and social media rather than paper notices or even telephone contact. Most governmental entities are big on using Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, blogs and texts. Solutions that help them manage this communications challenge are among the most used innovations.
We’ve been working with a local California agency that is looking to build mobile apps in-house, to help citizens’ access data in a secure way. There is a mandate here to utilize mobile technology to connect with constituents, and all of the agencies I speak with are trying to find the best and most cost-effective ways to do so.
GPN: Is innovation occurring in the public sector?
PC: Absolutely. E-learning is a big movement, and there are a number of open source and startup-built systems that can be used. Mobility is becoming a major direction for public sector IT groups, as they need to be able to share content securely, in many cases with citizenry, but also with local based businesses, contractors and legal partners. Security is paramount as public entities have access to a lot of personal and confidential data including tax records, legal records, personal and business credit information.
GPN: What are some examples of innovative products in the public sector?
PC: One example is mobile products that enable public sector employees to work outside the office; interact with citizenry directly; and be out in the local region to observe traffic, buildings, roads, other infrastructure. These same products enable public sector employees to conduct public service and social work remotely. This is the essence of mobility.
The challenge isn’t finding innovative apps. The challenge is in really securing the content that is so sensitive to the municipality, school district and citizens. It’s crucial for agencies to find apps that let their employees get work done, without worrying about the security of this content. An example of an app that enables mobile productivity with full security of the most important computing element — content — is Accellion’s kiteworks.
GPN: What can governments do to stimulate innovations?
PC: First, governments need to be open to innovation in products and processes. Governmental CIO’s are under pressure — they have to do everything the federal government does, but with a lot smaller staff and resources. Therefore, agencies need to allow them the latitude to look at true innovations. Secondly, continue to be judicious and competitive — make your vendors prove their value, every day. Larger vendors have trouble innovating because it’s too risky for them — so invariably they end up buying technology instead of doing what smaller companies like Accellion do — building it from the ground up. Something built for your needs is always better then something bought for you.
GPN: Thank you, Patrick Conte, for your views.
Editor’s note: Accellion is based in Palo Alto, Calif. The company has a number of government customers, including the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, the Human Services Agency of San Francisco, and the Oregon Judicial Department. Federal agencies, including the US Securities and Exchange Commission and NASA also use Accellion’s products.
This video shows some of the features of kiteworks by Accellion that enables users to seamlessly access, create, edit, and share content from any device, anywhere.