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FCW : August 15, 2016
Wisconsin: ‘Data is good when it’s used’ A key proposal in Wisconsin’s work plan is improving data collection and delivery. According to Smail, that means making it easier for stake- holders to report data and delivering high-quality applications that use the state’s data. “Data is good when it’s used,” Smail said. “We want to make sure we are being useful to those report- ing data, instead of just being a regu- latory requirement. There are a lot of opportunities for us to give data back to customers in a way they can use it, and that, in turn, improves the data because you wind up having more contact with the people giving you data. My top priority is adding context and meaning to the data so it’s not just a set of numbers.” Gaps in internet coverage in rural areas pose a challenge, though. “A lot of our people reporting live in areas of the state that don’t have high-quality internet access,” he said. “You might have a retired person who owns a piece of land and rents it out.” Once the information comes in, Convincing your team to buy into the cloud BY BIANCA SPINOSA It’s been nearly a year since the Federal Communications Commission moved 400 applications to the cloud — and 207 servers and thousands of cables from its headquarters to a commercial facility. The ambitious Operation Server Lift happened over Labor Day weekend in 2015. YouTube videos set to the theme music of “Mission: Impossible” show employees working around the clock to disconnect the servers and move all the equipment onto trucks that left FCC head- quarters at 3 a.m . for a commercial facility in West Virginia. Everything went smoothly until the agency’s IT employees reached the new site and realized they were looking at 55 hours of cabling work to reconnect the servers. CIO David Bray recalls that they did not hesitate to roll up their sleeves. “People could have gotten angry or sad or paralyzed by the overwhelming task ahead, and I would have understood completely,” he said. “What I celebrate is how they didn’t. Instead, it was more like, ‘What can we do to help?... Let’s start running replacement cables. Let’s get this done.’” That can-do spirit has enabled the FCC to make a dramatic leap forward in IT modernization. Operating and maintain- ing 207 systems used to cost more than 85 percent of the IT budget; now those activities account for less than 50 percent. Along with relocating servers, the agency moved email and documents to the cloud via Microsoft’s Office 365 and became the first federal agency to fully deploy the cloud-based suite. And although undertaking new ini- tiatives used to be a long and painful process, Bray’s team recently produced a working, cloud-based prototype for a bureau in less than 48 hours with com- mercial cloud solutions. To get to those efficiencies, however, the FCC IT team first had to be persuaded to reject the status quo. Bray said that when he became CIO in 2013, the average employee had been at the FCC for about 15 years. The move away from maintain- ing servers on-site would mean embark- ing on something completely new and giving up jobs those IT professionals had known for years. At a meeting three months after his arrival as CIO, Bray said, only 15 percent of workers were excited about moderniza- tion, and another 40 to 45 percent were cautiously optimistic. Six months later, the sentiment among the team members had grown to 40 percent excited. And by the time the team met before executing Operation Server Lift, excitement had grown to 70 percent. “I did offer to be the team’s human flak jacket if they would rise to the occasion, be creative problem solvers and accept this challenging mission,” Bray said. “And luckily for me... the team rallied with energy.” He said a culture of openness and bottom-up empowerment helped bring about that willingness to change. The team continues to hold meetings twice a week, during which “thank you” gifts are circulated to recognize individuals who have gone above and beyond. On Thurs- days, they decorate a dinosaur called Thank-o -saurus Rex. “It’s these little things — the shared rituals that we do as a community — that make all the difference in bringing the team together,” Bray said. n “It’s...the shared rituals that we do as a community that make all the difference in bringing the team together.” — DAVID BRAY August 15, 2016 FCW.COM 19 0815fcw_014-024.indd 19 7/27/16 8:37 AM
July 30, 2016
August 30, 2016