It's easy to make jokes about government inefficiency. Actually, it's kind of hard not to. But that doesn't mean these institutions aren't trying to improve. In fact, government agencies are often relatively eager to embrace new technologies and strategies that can help improve their performance.
Case in point: unified communications for federal workers. As FedTech Magazine recently highlighted, agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission now leverage UC tools in order to enable their employees to work remotely, and therefore more effectively.
UC for SEC
The news source reported that SEC personnel now leverage UC in order to conduct video conferences and share documents, which is critical for enabling off-site workers to contribute to their teams.
"We have expanded telework, and for many people who work remotely, these tools are very effective," said Pamela Dyson, deputy CIO and deputy director of the SEC's Office of Information Technology, FedTech Magazine reported.
Beyond using UC among workers in and around Washington, D.C., the SEC also leverages UC tools to conduct training courses for employees among the agency's 11 regional offices, Dyson told the news source.
This is not a particularly recent innovation, either. FedTech Magazine pointed out the SEC began to move in this direction back in 2004, at which time the agency adopted a VoIP system.
A Growing Trend
The SEC may be somewhat ahead of the curve when it comes to UC in the federal government, but they aren't likely to remain there for long. Speaking to the news source, Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group, asserted that UC awareness is spreading among federal agency leaders. As this happens, more federal groups will undoubtedly move to take advantage of the technology.
In particular, Laliberte emphasized UC's value for federal agencies as a means of reducing or eliminating in-person meetings.
"Now, people can meet online, actually show their colleagues the data and information they are talking about, and get people to make decisions as opposed to waiting for a set time to meet at a physical destination," he said, according to the source.
One serious, yet easily overlooked, reason for federal agencies to hop on the UC bandwagon is to improve cybersecurity. How? By helping these groups recruit cybersecurity professionals.
The lack of cybersecurity pros is a major problem for the federal government. The private sector can offer these experts better compensation and more freedom to innovate, making it tough for agencies to recruit and hold on to the cybersecurity staff they need to keep their data safe.
As GCN contributor William Jackson pointed out, allowing federal employees to work remotely could go a long way toward solving this problem. Employees, and particularly young personnel, are big fans of remote work - they see it as a serious job perk. Federal agencies that allow telecommuting are a lot more appealing to cybersecurity pros than organizations that don't. By embracing UC, remote work for these personnel becomes simple, easy, and safe.