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aerial view of forest and windy road by water

Digital Modernization 4 MIN Read

Emerging Technology Implementation: Turning Roadblocks into Speedbumps

August 10th, 2023

Emerging Tech Index

Learn more about GDIT’s Emerging Tech Index 2023: Seeds of Change.

The pace of technological change is accelerating, with unprecedented implications for our economy, daily lives, and for government agencies. GDIT’s research report, Seeds of Change, looked at the pace and the extent of emerging technology adoption within the federal government, its impact on mission objectives, and the challenges associated with implementation.

As agencies navigate this new landscape, it’s important that leaders understand and anticipate the hurdles they may confront and that they develop and deploy effective strategies to overcome them.

There are several key considerations for agencies looking to implement emerging tech in the near term – which is a lot of them. Our study says 65% are currently deploying emerging technologies and another 62% are planning to adopt or expand their use in the future.

Selection: Focus on Outcomes First, Then People, Processes, and Technology

No agency can embrace every new technology – at least not effectively. So, when deciding which technologies to evaluate and implement, it’s best to work backwards. Think about the problem you’re trying to solve. Think about the outcomes you want to deliver. From there, narrow your focus to the best fit technologies that can help accelerate that outcome. What are the processes and people that surround it? What do they need? And do you have the culture in place to adopt these new technologies? Because any kind of digital transformation is not just about implementing technology. It’s about culture, too.

Disruption: Unavoidable, but Entirely Navigable

Related, agency leaders should consider the inevitable disruption that new technology implementations can create, and how to convert them into opportunities. Who will be impacted, how, for how long, and what is the recalibration plan? Have you engaged the right stakeholders to make the implementation process successful? These stakeholders can help ensure you understand your users and the best two-way communication channels to truly engage them in the transformation. They can help identify early fixes, for example, that prevent rework later. They can also ensure a smoother development process, rollout, and onboarding of the technology.

Budget: Invest Upstream to Realize Savings Downstream

Similarly, doing a little legwork up front can help ensure that agencies get the most value out of their emerging technology implementations. The expectation is often that emerging technology will help agencies do more with less, and that can be the case, but only if agencies invest at the outset in the right level of planning around how it will be used, by whom, for what purpose and duration, and how to ensure resiliency to changes or increased demand. This potentially makes the total cost of ownership of a technology or solution lower, or in cases of broader demand due to perceived benefits, it can at least result in higher “value-per-user" ratio.

Security: Build It In, Don’t Bolt It On

With new technology implementations there are data, privacy, and cyber concerns that have to be addressed and built in from the start – not bolted on at the end. Failing to do this will result in higher costs and increased risks. Security approaches, like Zero Trust, provide an excellent layer of protection when integrating new technologies.

In the past, huge troves of data could be contained in a single application or environment, but in today’s data mesh environments, data is pulled together to be analyzed on-demand. But different data has different security considerations, so when you bring it together, you’re increasing risk from a cyber point of view. At the same time, artificial intelligence is getting better at triangulating data rendering combinations of inert data sensitive or damaging. For these reasons, addressing security concerns is about more than building resiliency, it’s about building resilient systems that are secure from the start and become stronger when tested.

Accelerators: You’re Part of a Technology Ecosystem

As agencies continue to experiment with emerging technology, there is a growing body of knowledge about what works and doesn’t work in agency settings. From each of these implementations comes lessons learned and best practices that can be shared from agency to agency. Here, systems integrators like GDIT can help facilitate this type of information-sharing. Academia, trade organizations and other institutions can be similar conduits on things like feature selection, change management, budgeting and forecasting, security and more. All of this accelerates efforts so that the government doesn't waste time and so that agencies, and ultimately the people and missions they serve, see immediate benefits.

Agencies should consider working with mission partners and with organizations like ACT-IAC and Dcode, as two examples, who are fantastic at doing exactly this. At GDIT, we work with colleges and universities like Howard University, Tuskegee University, Carnegie Mellon, George Washington University, and Georgetown to name a few. The emerging technology ecosystem is vast and growing, and agencies should absolutely consider themselves a part of it and tap its resources to their advantage.