Meet Tom Woteki, Acentia Senior Vice President and Chief Architect.
Woteki spoke with WashingtonExec about the changing expectations citizens have for their government thanks to mobile devices and social media, the shift in applications development due to the popularity of mobile devices, as well as the increasing need for data management.
WashingtonExec: Could you tell us a little about your background and your role at Acentia?
Tom Woteki: I’m Senior Vice President and Chief Architect at Acentia which means that I am responsible for developing our solutions strategy in support of our customers’ mission objectives – the technologies we should focus on that are of either particular interest or importance to our customers and the missions they have – and helping to develop the company’s technical capabilities. I have been in information technology for about 30 years now, supporting organizations such as Cisco, Northrop Grumman and the American Red Cross.
“We as citizens are increasingly accustomed to obtaining services, collaborating, social networking on our mobile devices, and so on – there is, I believe, an increasing expectation that the services the government provides its citizenry should be just like those one can get from other services on our devices.”
WashingtonExec: How do you think the consumerization of information technology is affecting current trends in government contracting?
Tom Woteki: It is having a very significant impact on how agencies are thinking about how they empower or enable their employees to accomplish their tasks. There is also another important aspect to that which is increasingly relevant; namely on the citizen’s side of that equation. We as citizens are increasingly accustomed to obtaining services, collaborating, social networking on our mobile devices, and so on – there is, I believe, an increasing expectation that the services the government provides its citizenry should be just like those one can get from other services on our devices.
WashingtonExec: How do you think the trend of having more computing power in your phones rather than your laptops will affect business in government contracting?
Tom Woteki: There will certainly be more telecommuting – that’s increasingly the case starting with laptops and other portable computing devices. Another answer to your question particularly relevant to my work here at Acentia centers on application development. Traditionally, when developing a solution for a customer, our first approach might have been thinking about an application that is delivered on a laptop or over the web. Increasingly, we think about those solutions being delivered first on mobile devices and then secondly on laptops or desktops. I think there will be a parallel impact on how applications are developed for the federal government -perhaps not immediately but certainly that’s an aspect of consumerization that we are talking about. It will shift people’s thinking about how applications are developed and on what devices are they developed.
WashingtonExec: How much security do you think is enough on mobile devices?
Tom Woteki: As computing moves into the cloud and you are communicating over mobile devices, whether it is voice or data exchange, the communications are often not encrypted in any way. We see some customers with initiatives underway to disable a device if it becomes lost. However, the problem isn’t unique to mobile devices because if you’re an employee of a government organization or a company and you are carrying a laptop that has proprietary information on it and you lose that device – it makes no difference whether it is a laptop or a mobile device. Laptops are just as connected as mobile devices are. I think also the security technology on mobile devices, given their relative newness, is not as mature as on a computing device.
WashingtonExec: How do different technologies, such as cloud computing and big data and mobility, link together?
Tom Woteki: That’s an issue both in the government sector and in the private sector. Let me describe the problem a little bit more. If you have a large amount of data that needs analysis, you need a substantial amount of computing power; computing power that you may not have in your corporate or organizational assets. You typically would need that computing power only for a short period of time to do the analysis. One of the solutions to that problem is to leverage a solution on demand from a cloud service provider. You need so much CPU or storage capacity to solve a problem that may take me a few hours or a few days or even a few weeks to solve after which you don’t need those assets anymore. You want them on demand as a utility for a relatively short period of time after which you want to be rid of the expense associated with them. That’s an ideal problem for cloud computing to solve. That brings together big data and cloud computing. Mobility represents access to that information – the example I just gave you might not necessarily entail mobility, but mobility and access to data also imply linkage to the cloud.
WashingtonExec: Do you have a book that has inspired you or do you have a book that you are currently reading that you are really enjoying?
Tom Woteki: The book that I am currently reading is entitled The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch. I would describe it as being about how human being’s capacity to solve problems leads to a very optimistic outlook about our ability to tackle important problems. The author calls it the beginning of infinity because he thinks the start of the scientific revolution, where the disciplined approach to seeking explanations through scientific experimentation was initiated, was the beginning of our capacity to do this.
WashingtonExec: What is something most people might not know about you?
Tom Woteki: There are lots of things your readers probably don’t know about me but this is the example I like to use because it usually gets people wondering ‘what in the world did he ever do that sort of thing’. I once performed in a ballet where I played the role of the beast in Beauty and the Beast – not professionally or anything like that but I did appear in a ballet at one time.
WashingtonExec: Was it a local community ballet?
Tom Woteki: Yes, a local ballet school in San Antonio, Texas. I was the only man interested in what the ladies were doing in their ballet class. My wife was in the class and because I hung out over there they asked me to be in the ballet.