Mobility and Information Technology are two major areas of discussion in the federal IT industry. With the plethora of platforms today in which to share but also consume information, it begs to ask what certain industry leaders think about how this is all faring. Think to BYOD, trends, citizen service projects, and more.
Kathleen Urbine, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Solutions Division at DMI, spoke with WashingtonExec specifically about such issues, providing an insight into how our federal society today stands on mobility trends, information dissemination, approval in a time of budget constraints, and much more.
WashingtonExec: We talked with Sam Ganga last year and he gave us his thoughts on what the five big trends in mobility were. What do you see as trends in federal mobility?
Kathleen Urbine: One of the big trends we are seeing is the emergence of new and more flexible, agile contracts to deliver mobility to federal clients. One in particular is DMI’s recent USDA win. The USDA put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) that’s available to all 29 agencies across the USDA. This makes it very easy for any agency within USDA to get access to mobile services and solutions. We’re starting to see more and more agencies do that so that they can create one BPA-type contract that is an umbrella for all things mobile.
Another trend is mobility as a managed service – the technology changes in mobile right now are quick and constant. Government agencies are looking for the best way to keep up with mobile technology, and they’re finding it in managed services. An outsourced, managed mobility service takes away all of the pressure to keep up with all of the technologies, continually evaluate new products, swap out old products for newer ones, keep up with provisioning and decommissioning devices, ensure the devices are secure, etc.
It is also about the apps. Now that we have the devices out there and are getting over some of the security issues we had in the past, we can deliver apps anytime, anywhere, and folks can be more efficient and better equipped to perform their functions regardless of the endpoint.
WashingtonExec: What are your thoughts on BYOD? Do you think it’s are essential for the success of mobility and information dissemination?
Kathleen Urbine: Actually, now we are starting to see CYOD (Choose Your Own Device). BYOD is a great concept and as long as you have the policies in place, it can work very effectively. The problem is that the IT staff has to be able to support all of these different operating systems and devices. On the Apple side, it’s relatively straightforward – you have to have an Apple device – a tablet or phone – and an operating system. On the Android side, you have the Android operating system but there are dozens of devices and manufacturers. This causes problems because all of those devices work a little differently, so your apps will work differently and how you manage your apps also works differently.
“CYOD solves many of those problems. With CYOD, employees will select a phone or tablet from a preselected list of approved devices. This allows employees the flexibility to choose a device that fits their needs and streamlines the backend operational support required to support the device. We’re starting to see a shift toward CYOD among government agencies.”
WashingtonExec: Some technologists have said the large issue with going mobile is not so much a technological advancement as a cultural one. Do you agree?
Kathleen Urbine: You know, it all comes down to having a good mobile strategy in place and understanding your requirements. By running well-defined pilots and collaborating with your business users, you can understand the true usability requirements and create a mobile solution that brings value to both your users and your organization. In addition to defining the operational requirements up front, you should also involve your security staff from the beginning. At DMI, when we’re working with a client, we bring in the security team during the pilot and initial strategy meetings.
Once you have a good understanding of your usability, security, and manageability requirements, you can put together an executable plan that is going to show your leadership that:
1) it is going to be adopted by your users,
2) you are going to be able to secure it and not introduce new vulnerabilities into the environment, and
3) it is a manageable solution.
WashingtonExec: Have citizen service projects decreased due to budget constraints?
Kathleen Urbine: No, in fact, we’re seeing quite the opposite. By empowering end users, you actually gain efficiencies. When we roll out a mobility solution, we introduce the concept of a self-help portal. We find that if you empower your end users to do easy things like change a password or lock and unlock a device, you’re lowering the traffic to your IT help desk, making your constituents happier, and saving money.
WashingtonExec: What is something that you think most people might not know about DMI as either an organization or nonprofit activity?
Kathleen Urbine: DMI really cares about its people. Our senior leadership knows that our team is most effective when they’re well cared for and their efforts are recognized. We regularly give out awards for exceptional achievement and celebrate our wins. Beyond that, our team just gets along.
“We’re friends, and we like doing things together…whether that’s serving in the community, going to happy hour, or spending time in the End Zone (our break room) at headquarters. We work hard, but we make time to play as well.”
WashingtonExec: What is your go-to app?
Kathleen Urbine: I actually have two of them and they go hand in hand. Being in systems integration and the government consulting industry, I’m always driving around DC, Virginia & Maryland. I’d be lost without Google Maps! When I’m in the city, I wouldn’t be able to make it without Park Mobile. Who carries quarters for parking meters anymore?
WashingtonExec: What is your favorite place or restaurant to do business in?
Kathleen Urbine: I would say right here at our Innovation Center in DC. I really enjoy inviting colleagues and customers to collaborate on projects and show off the latest in mobility and other next generation technologies.
WashingtonExec: What was your first job?
Kathleen Urbine: I worked at a Burger King as a cashier. Burger King was a little different from McDonald’s back then because you could customize your order. You could order a Whopper with cheese and no pickle, so not only did the cashiers have to interact with customers, but we also had to talk to the cooking staff through microphones and ensure the order was properly made. I will always remember that job – it taught me the importance of clear communication.