'Third-Wave' Tech Tools Reshape Agencies: Kundra

Cloud, social and mobile technologies are poised to help governments deliver new levels of customer service to citizens, says former U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra.
Mobile Government: 10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps
Mobile Government: 10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps
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Former U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra was back on stage in Washington Wednesday serving up visions of how cloud computing, social media dashboards and mobile applications are fundamentally transforming customer relationships.

That transformative power also stands to benefit government agencies, he said in an interview with InformationWeek Government and on stage at the Washington Convention Center at a customer event May 22.

Kundra, of course, has been serving up those visions as's executive VP for emerging markets since January 2012. But he continues to paint a picture of how government agencies, including the General Services Administration, are seeing real benefits from embracing what he called "the third wave of computing" to connect with citizens. That's Kundra's shorthand for the combined impact of "cloud computing plus LTE wireless networks plus mobile products -- 6 billion objects connected to the network" via the Internet.

[ Cloud-based mobile tools from Salesforce connect government with citizens. Here's how: Salesforce Debuts Mobile Tools For Government. ]

"What you end up with," Kundra said, "[is the ability to] deploy an app -- go from idea to app -- in minutes, rather than working on multibillion dollar projects." That's in contrast to what government agencies could do in the days of mainframes and terminals (the first wave of computing) or client server, LANs and WANs, and desktops (the second wave.)

"I think we're going to -- in the next two years -- re-imagine entire sectors of our economy from healthcare to education and in the government space, national security and public safety, given this third wave of computing," Kundra predicted.

At the heart of that transformation, Kundra continued, is the power of machines collaborating with people -- or as he described it, the human-machine interface, fueled in large part by mobile applications. "We're already seeing early disruptions [in a variety of industries]," he said. He cited the ability for people in a growing number of cities to summon taxicabs via apps on their mobile phones and how that is altering how the taxicab industry operates. He also noted how jet engines from GE are now capable of tweeting their temperature readings, leading to real-time diagnostics.

That kind of transformation has been slower to come to government, he said, in part because governments have a natural monopoly, with less competitive incentive than the private sector has to win over their customers. "But what you're beginning to see," he pointed out, is how election officials and politicians are "realizing the power of this social-mobile-cloud revolution" to connect with their customers.

Kundra pointed to the Obama-Biden 2012 campaign and its use of cloud computing and social media monitoring tools developed by to follow campaign messaging and mobilize hundreds of volunteers to orchestrate tactical campaign efforts.

Edward Schlicksup, a lead technical administrator for the Obama-Biden 2012 campaign and now a senior consultant with Bluewolf, was a featured speaker at the event. Schlicksup explained how campaign leaders were able to train hundreds of volunteers each in fewer than 15 minutes to monitor and respond to social media messages using monitoring consoles.

Kundra also said governments have an opportunity to dramatically improve call center response using cloud, social and mobile platforms. "We're seeing the city of Philadelphia -- Mayor (Michael) Nutter and his leadership -- put in place for the first time a chief customer service officer. Her name is Rosetta Lue and she's talking about how she's not just looking for another customer relationship management system for a 311 contact center -- but how do you transform an entire citizen experience.

"So the same way when you dial 911, [the citizen] isn't actually thinking about who do I contact [to find a hospital] or can you direct me to the ambulance department," Kundra continued, "citizens ought to be able to contact one number and have agents easily direct them to any of dozens of city services, using state of the art dashboards and knowledge directories."

During Kundra's keynote presentation, he and a variety of customers, including GSA CIO Casey Coleman, showcased how customers are benefiting from the social media-enabled, cloud-based platforms. He also highlighted four new offerings aimed at helping government agencies work more productively, including:

-- Rapid Response 311 enables government agencies to improve agent productivity and resolve cases faster by providing enhanced access to government information and the ability to manage a case on any channel -- phone, email, Web and social media.

-- Mobile Communities for Government allows agencies to create private and secure social communities to connect with other departments, agencies and external partners. It is now being piloted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

-- Government Social Command Center allows agencies to connect with citizens in real time wherever they are most engaged -- on social networks, websites or mobile devices -- and offers the ability to measure sentiment in real time and quickly respond to citizens' priorities.

-- Platform Mobile Services for Government gives government IT teams the ability to build, integrate and deploy any government app that makes data available on any device.

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