Why is the job of chief information officer, especially in the public sector, so difficult? Is it ill-defined, misunderstood, threatening or powerless? Are qualified people assigned, and are salary and compensation levels adequate? These are good questions that represent problems expressed by many chief information officers.
In this month's Incoming column, Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) talks about how management of data is so important. He looks at it from the enterprise level, discussion trends in how organizations can streamline data management operations through consolidation of data centers. While the trend is interesting to discuss, it brings up another interesting point: Individuals are just as likely to need "data management" skills these days, what with the incredible amount of information that flows through their email in-boxes and feed readers. So, for discussion this month: How much is too much information, and how do you manage it all?
“It’s all about the data” is a popular expression today. More and more, we’ve come to realize that data is the central building block for protecting, processing, sharing and storing information. And, as government and industry data owners learn to believe in these realities, they quite often decide to establish their own data centers to maintain control. On the surface, this might easily seem like the right thing to do, but it isn’t always the best course to achieve effective consolidation. Being aware of data center consolidation experience and realities can save organizations large sums of money and improve operations.
In "Network Operations Mandate Critical Considerations," Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) outlines and explains his "pillars of netcentricity," which are communications infrastructure; security, including privacy and cybersecurity; information management, governance, and leadership. These pillars are so important, he continues, because as organizations face the challenges of continued streamlining, as resources continue to dwindle even as security demands continue to grow. With all this in mind, what key elements for effective and efficient network operations pose the greatest challenge for defense agencies?
As information systems have shifted from analog to digital and to Internet protocol, network operations (NetOps) increasingly has become the all-important central element of an evolving network-centric operations (NCO) ecosystem. Today, successful NetOps enables better decision-making, improved customer support and more effective business operations. It allows information access, sharing and collaboration among network users. But effective and efficient NetOps can only be achieved through a holistic management approach. Many organizations experience problems today by not addressing each of what I call the Five Pillars of Netcentricity.
This month, Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr. examines transition plans-his favorite, in particular, which is the 500-day plan. He discusses his experience using such a plan at CENTCOM and at DISA, and the benefits of doing so over, say, an 18-month plan or the "typical" five-year strategic plan favored by so many organizations. That leaves us with this month's Incoming question: What transition models are working for your agency or organization? How might the 500-day plan work for you?
Various mechanisms exist to achieve success, but the power and benefit of 500-day plans have been proven repeatedly. Organizations can use this approach to plan and quantitatively measure the success of transformational activities even during the most dynamic of times.
In this month's Incoming column, Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr. notes how everyone is going mobile and virtual. He traces how DISA approached the challenges of telework beginning in 2000 in an effort to improve productivity, ease the time and money burden of travel, reduce traffic congestion and boost morale. He notes:
It seems today that everyone is going mobile and virtual in conducting business. Military forces on the move are being given better access to critical information needed to conduct military operations, and business leaders are almost constantly connected to others in their fast-moving, daily business lives. Not long ago, we thought that being able to plug into a data stream at a wall socket was pretty agile and “high-speed.” However, we’re quickly moving into an era where wireless connectivity and virtual presence are provided almost everywhere we travel. Most people I pass on the street today are connected to someone on the other end of a powerful handheld communication device.
In 1995, Lt. Gen. Albert J. Edmonds, USAF, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) director, called me asking for help. At that time I was the director of command and control systems (J-6) for the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM). Gen. Edmonds had provided briefings on the attributes of the new Global Command and Control System (GCCS) but needed to have it installed and operational in a “real warfighting command” such as USCENTCOM.
Tech-savvy younger workers from Generation Y are accustomed to easy, speedy access to information. In the not-too-distant future, late Boomers and even Generation X workers will have to adapt to the ways that work force culture is changing as a result of this incoming generation's influence. This month's Incoming column examines howrganizations are faced with the challenge to remain relevant, but must do so in a way that makes change a positive asset.
In the column, Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.), writes:
Culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterizes an organization. Today, I hear leaders complaining that their biggest organizational problems boil down to issues involving that one word. If culture is indeed the problem, it should be addressed and not continually ignored or tolerated.
Cybersecurity is becoming a critical issue for both government and industry—and for good reason. A dangerous combination of cyber-related activity is growing daily around us. This includes dependence on technology, skyrocketing cyber crime and terrorism, and vulnerabilities hidden by the complexities of an interconnected, global network. In government, industry and our personal lives, we have growing cyber dependence because that is how we are able to better perform missions, conduct business operations and lead our daily lives.
This is what I’ve been hearing from government and industry leaders who invested heavily in information technology to improve organizational performance but didn’t see the returns they expected. Some chief executive officers implemented instant messaging software across their organizations to improve communication flow, but because users were not convinced that communications were secure, instant messaging was ignored. In other situations, both leadership and staff were uncomfortable with social networking tools because they were used to communicating through other people—not with more direct, less formal means.
Between 1870 and 1871, the European continent experienced the Franco-Prussian War, which gave no warning of what World War I would be like. But this “quaint” war did foreshadow the importance of logistics, the need for reliable lines of communication and the effect of rapid innovation on the battlefield.
Not long ago, network-centric warfare (NCW) theologians stated that the information advantage generated by information technology could provide a new competitive warfighting advantage on tomorrow’s battlefield. For the first time in the history of warfare, geographically dispersed forces would be completely networked and thus much more effective. Other terms soon followed to operationalize the theory, such as information/knowledge superiority and information dominance. These terms were operationally refreshing, philosophically mesmerizing and intellectually seductive.
The U.S. Defense Department is investing billions of dollars in new military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) systems such as the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF), Wideband Global Services (WGS) and Transformational Communications System (TCS) to transform the way U.S. forces communicate and operate in modern combat. Unfortunately, reliance on these expensive and delayed programs has hampered the networked capabilities of operating units. Specific programs
Recently, President George W. Bush and the U.S. Defense Department announced the creation of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to “help Africans achieve their own security, not to extend the scope of the war on terrorism or secure African resources.” Had this statement been made five years ago, most of the world would have openly supported the notion of a U.S.-led effort to ease human suffering. But today the
A remarkable young Marine officer named Maj. Douglas A. Zembiec was killed in action on May 11, 2007, during his fourth tour in Iraq. What makes his story so compelling is not the fact that he was referred to as the "Lion of Fallujah" as a result of heroic actions during operation Vigilant Resolve in 2004 or as an "unapologetic warrior" featured in a Los Angeles Times interview three years ago. He was remarkable because his life and untimely death are emblematic of the men and women who serve our nation selflessly, without hesitation, quietly volunteering as Maj. Zembiec had done. How can each of us, from the comfort and security of home, meaningfully contribute to the common good of our nation?
It is not often that government leadership discusses the importance of system engineering or complex system management, but major setbacks for the U.S. Coast Guard's $24 billion Deepwater program are casting a shadow over the use of lead system integrators on other U.S. Defense Department acquisitions. These setbacks also are highlighting the lack of government system engineering knowledge.