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FCW : April 15, 2013
DOD Tech do you use those as an example in the future?" Takai s commitment to mobile pilot projects illustrates their importance in identifying requirements for intro- ducing new technology, saving scarce money and improving productivity. "A lot of these pilot programs are being driven by the senior-most execu- tives at agencies," said Jeff Ait, direc- tor of public-sector business at Good Technology, which has been involved in DOD s pilot projects. "General of - cers get iPads for Christmas, bring them in and want to carry this cool device instead of an 8-pound laptop." He added that of cials often launch pilot projects for email and quickly nd that users are hungry for a wide range of applications that can turn mobile devices into full- edged productivity tools. Staying ahead of adversaries It is not always clear skies for pilot projects. Authorities sometimes get muddled, and the glacially slow processes for security accreditation and other formalities render some tools obsolete before they can be adopted. Indeed, program managers hope the pilot process will shine a light on the antiquated policies that inhibit progress. "When we rst started this, we had policies that predated smart devices by decades and prevented us from using the technology, but it didn t prevent our adversaries from using it," said Michael McCarthy, director of opera- tions at the Army Brigade Moderniza- tion Command. "It s a gradual process though. Any time you re changing the status quo, it makes people nervous." McCarthy has helped push through some of DOD s most ambitious mobile pilot projects. In fact, a number of the devices the Army is testing have been put to use in military classrooms or sent abroad to troops in the eld. What started with 200 devices could expand to as many as 25,000 tablet PCs and smart phones across the Army by the end of the scal year, McCarthy said. 22 April 15, 2013 FCW.COM "As doctrine changes, new tactics, techniques and procedures come out, new administrative forms, new training content. You have to be able to keep up and make that available," he said. "Our focus has been to get the processes into place to do the governance and certi cation to [ensure] we re current. It s not showy, but it s setting condi- tions for the not-so-distant future when the smart device becomes as common throughout the Army as the laptop computer or BlackBerry. We re see- ing an evolution of technology." But that technology does not come cheap, which is a top concern for agency of cials trying to determine how to integrate mobility into their operations. Most insiders agree that mobile devices improve productivity and, therefore, justify the investment, but the unclear path for securely adopt- ing the technology is compounded by budget pressures. "Most people don t realize we never have had a budget for these projects," McCarthy said. "We ve had to beg, borrow and steal --- and that was by design." He added that his team largely avoided the expenses associated with big-ticket projects by using an agile development process. "We were told to see what we could do with what we had," he said. "I never sat down and totaled how much we ve spent on mobile pilots, but it s probably less than $6 million. Something like this in the traditional model never would have made it out of the gate, but it s proven very effective, and it s caused us to be very careful about where we spend our resources." Resolving the non-tech issues Nevertheless, mobile pilot projects are not just about the technology. According to some experts, they have more to do with policies and governance --- elements that can, fortunately, require less upfront investment to change. At the Nuclear Regulatory Commis- sion, for example, a test run of a bring- Whydoa mobile pilot project? Get a feel for what works for your speci c organization. A test run of mobile technology can help answer a variety of questions. For example, do employees need tablet PCs for taking notes or managing data in the eld, or are smart phones enough for them to stay digitally connected at all times? Who truly needs a mobile device? Which operating system is best for speci c networks? Keep up with new technology. Because they are limited deployments, pilot projects give agencies more leeway in terms of governance, funding and how they write the eventual contract. Furthermore, pilot projects can support spiral development and give agencies a chance to resolve certi cation and accreditation issues --- one of the biggest roadblocks to rapid procurement. Once a mobile pilot project moves into production, those technology purchases are subject to acquisition regulations. Streamline activities enterprisewide. The Defense Department is using pilot projects to coordinate security requirements and interoperability, which is particularly important as the Pentagon seeks to consolidate IT systems. In the process, DOD is improving ef ciency and saving resources, according to the Defense Information Systems Agency. Drive productivity and innovation. Given that the youngest members of the federal workforce have essentially been raised with technology, it is second nature for them to use mobile tools anytime, anywhere --- including, for better or worse, for work purposes. Furthermore, pilot projects lend themselves to collaboration and input from team members --- a process that fosters creative thinking and problem-solving. --- Amber Corrin
March 30, 2013
April 30, 2013