‘I, Technologist’: Empowering Innovators in the Federal Workforce
The Accenture Federal Technology Vision examines the five technology trends poised to have the broadest impact on how government operates over the next three years. Today, we consider Trend 3: I, Technologist, which looks at how technology can unlock human potential.
What does it mean for technology to be democratized and accessible across the agency?
It’s become increasingly clear that everyone in government – not just the IT department – needs to appreciate technology’s vast potential and be empowered to use it in support of government’s varied missions. But how is this to be achieved? Our Federal Technology Vision paints a picture of what a technologically empowered Federal workforce might look like.
The shift toward a more democratized IT vision is already underway.
Accenture found that 89 percent of Federal executives believe technology democratization is becoming critical in their ability to ignite innovation. And 81 percent say government must train people to think like technologists – to use and customize technology solutions individually and without highly technical skills.
We already see Federal employees of all stripes employing a wide variety of emerging tools. They’re leveraging cloud-based platforms to create custom dashboards, run data analytics, and even introduce automation and AI into their workstreams.
An undeniable shift is underway, as powerful technology puts new capabilities into people’s hands. Natural language processing, low-code platforms, and robotic process automation (RPA) – all these make technology more accessible, empowering Federal workers to innovate in support of mission goals.
As do-it-yourself technology becomes pervasive, agency leaders face an urgent need to figure out how best to manage their personnel and resources in a highly empowered IT environment.
Government needs consistent leadership, planning, skilling, and governance to capitalize on the promise of the “I, Technologist” environment.
Agency leaders will need to strike a careful balance here. On the one hand, democratized tech can dramatically improve productivity and drive mission performance. At the same time, agencies must ensure that all this grassroots activity is adequately secured, understood, and integrated into an overall enterprise framework.
Rather than simply saying no to grassroots IT initiatives, leaders can learn to manage these efforts and channel individual initiatives toward common goals. In Trend 3: I, Technologist, we lay out three guiding implications that leaders can use to orient themselves and support innovation:
- Do-it-yourself IT will accelerate as business and mission units become more comfortable with building their own applications.
- The role of IT will shift as business and mission units assume more control over their own IT provisioning and development.
- Tech skilling will take on higher importance so that employees can be smarter about how they employ these new tools and capabilities.
Technology can empower individual employees to fix problems and improve processes, as they select the right tools for the task in an increasingly self-service model. For this to work, the role and function of IT will have to adjust accordingly.
In this vision, IT will no longer be the gatekeeper for all things IT. Instead, technology leaders will become the enablers, governors, collaborators, and advisors. Rather than stand in the way, they will use their expertise to empower workers to assert greater autonomy in deploying technology.
There will be an education component to all this. Federal agencies will need to help their workforces become savvy users and consumers of available technologies. Eighty-nine percent of Federal executives agree that as technology democratization unfolds, organizations will need training strategies that include a focus on security and data governance.
At the very least, all employees will need a foundational level of technical and data literacy going forward. From there, leaders will need to drive cultural change. As workers grow more comfortable employing technology tools and re-engineering their work processes, agencies can evolve toward a culture that is far more adaptable, nimble, and confident in meeting the challenges of the future.
What’s to be gained? Rapid innovation, greater worker satisfaction, and an increased ability to meet the Federal mission.
The Accenture Federal Technology Vision lays out a future in which people leverage technology to optimize their work or fix pain points independently. Meanwhile, IT professionals will still drive the big picture: They’ll collaborate with mission teams to identify new technologies and ensure those tools and platforms are deployed securely and efficiently.
By empowering those closest to a problem to create new solutions, IT will help agencies keep pace with rapidly changing needs.