Embracing intelligent automation and strategic partnerships for federal innovation

SMX EVP Robert Groat explains why intelligent automation, agile acquisition and strategic partnerships are key to modernizing agency enterprises.

Robert Groat is the executive vice president of Strategy and Technology for SMX. He brings to his position more than 30 years of experience and strategy consulting skills in designing, developing, and delivering market-leading products and services, especially in the financial services, healthcare, federal, and Department of Defense sectors.

Imagine a government agency that operates lightning fast, anticipating citizen needs before they arise, and where automated processes handle tedious tasks, freeing up employee expertise for complex mission problems. For agencies that continue to embrace cloud innovation strategically, this future is closer than many might think.

It’s no secret that agencies grapple with aging systems, budget constraints or a risk-averse culture. However, jumping into new technologies without the right strategy can lead to scattered efforts and limited impact. A strategic shift is clearly needed, but achieving true modernization and agility will depend in no small part on planning for intelligent automation — and reconsidering how agencies approach IT operations.

By implementing intelligent autonomic response mechanisms—repeatable processes that remove manual operational toil and enhance accuracy, performance and innovation speed—agencies can transform their operations, making them more agile and responsive to citizen needs. Agencies spend too much time manually waiting for and responding to operational issues when they could be building self-healing, autoscaling, and highly resilient applications.

However, embracing such transformative technologies calls for more than just buying and implementing new technology products; it necessitates a cultural shift toward fostering an environment supporting experimentation and innovation.

While it might seem counterintuitive, part of that path forward requires moving beyond the trappings of open-ended or time-and-materials-based contracts. Instead, agencies should reconsider opting for fixed-price, fixed-timeframe contracts. This change encourages greater accountability and efficiency from IT service providers. Unlike open-ended contracts that can lead to budget and schedule overruns, fixed contracts specify the project scope, deliverables and costs upfront, incentivizing contractors to complete tasks and deliver outcomes within designated parameters.

Adopting modular components with fixed prices benefits both government agencies and service providers. Agencies gain clearer visibility into budget allocations and expected outcomes for each phase of the project, while providers have a precise understanding of the expected deliverables and timeframes. This method streamlines the IT advancement process, enabling rapid, incremental improvements and offering a clear path to achieving the intended modernization objectives with reduced risk and increased transparency.

Consider the rationale behind why tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, or Google insist on a modular development and deployment blueprint. Their success is a testament to the effectiveness of this model and serves as a guidepost for agencies looking to integrate new technologies into their operations. Agencies stand to benefit from adopting a similar approach. The lesson is clear: modular development is not just about technological advancement; it’s about adopting a mindset that sees innovation as a series of building blocks, each adding value and capabilities in a controlled, measurable and adaptable way.

Agencies need to consider whether their contracting strategy matches their innovation requirement demands—because, in many cases, it doesn’t right now. They need to place much more urgency and importance on building a culture that supports greater experimentation, and the traditional contracting models have hindered that.

We’ve seen that in the number of organizations that leaped to the cloud with the mindset of simply doing a lift and shift. Those who did likely haven’t realized the gains they hoped for because they didn’t capitalize on the opportunity to truly modernize their infrastructure and applications. The result is that they missed the benefits of speed and agility that come with dynamic data accessibility and capabilities or the ability to experiment with cloud-native services.

The organizations that did embrace cloud-enabled modernization are now looking at capitalizing on AI, predictive analytics and automation. For them, digital transformation will come faster and have a greater impact.

While many agencies have achieved some early wins, managing the entire lifecycle of cloud and enterprise assets also demands taking a broader view. This involves deploying automated and reusable templated solutions, simplifying security and compliance through microservices, and viewing enterprise operations through a software lens. It also demands tapping the expertise of experienced “digital accelerator” partners.

Working with partners that have a proven track record in multi-cloud migrations and the power to create foundational enterprise data capabilities is where SMX stands out from traditional technology firms. Our goal is to help agencies innovate quickly, augment their capabilities, and ensure they’re both culturally ready and have the skills to take it to the next level.

By building long-term value through reusable enterprise assets and shifting to a more agile acquisition model, organizations can take greater advantage of the power of automation, ultimately achieving faster results and greater value.

By focusing on automating processes and leveraging the power of cloud platforms, agencies can reduce operational burden, increase innovation and enable their personnel to focus on creating more value. SMX is committed to reshaping the approach to digital transformation, ensuring that technology serves as a means to achieve mission success rather than an end in itself.

It’s time to think big, innovate fast and create a more efficient and responsive government.

Learn more about how SMX can help your organization leverage intelligent automation with its digital transformation solutions for faster innovation.

Robert Groat

Written by Robert Groat

Robert Groat is the executive vice president of Strategy and Technology for SMX, bringing to his position more than 30 years of experience and strategy consulting skills in designing, developing, and delivering market-leading products and services, especially in financial services, healthcare, federal and Department of Defense sectors.

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