4 Ways Agencies Can Boost Productivity by Focusing on Users

Digital transformation helps feds promote teamwork and remote work.

Moving to the cloud for storage and networking is just one element of federal agencies ongoing efforts to modernize their IT systems. Agencies also must focus on the tools they are giving to employees. The White House is pushing for greater adoption of cloud-based email and collaboration tools. 

Users are at the heart of digital transformation, says Microsoft CTO Scott Emigh. Focusing on users can help agencies achieve the productivity gains that are a primary goal of most transformation efforts.

Fostering teamwork and enabling remote work are key objectives as IT leaders aim to deliver the modern workplace, Emigh says.

Microsoft 365 is the key piece in Microsoft’s efforts to deliver the modern workspace. With this platform, the company is consolidating Office 365 and Windows 10, along with its Enterprise Mobility + Security tools. Many agencies have already adopted or are in the midst of adopting these tools.

Last week at the GITEC Summit 2018Edward Davis, deputy CIO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (which is the parent agency for AmeriCorps), said on a panel that the agency worked with its vendor partners and determined that it was spending too much on core IT services. So, the CNCS decided to partner with Microsoft for its Azure cloud and Office 365 suite to gain efficiencies by adopting a Software as a Service model.

The Microsoft 365 suite delivers the company’s most popular productivity software, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It also offers newer features, such as Cortana, Microsoft’s digital personal assistant software. Microsoft 365 is intended to enable users to connect with everyone they need to do their jobs, such as citizens, coworkers and partners. It provides a comprehensive solution to bring disparate teams and resources together for optimal productivity.

The company has identified four elements of the modern workplace that Microsoft 365 is intended to support:

SIGN UP: Get more news from the FedTech newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!

1. Feds Can Unlock Creativity in Content Creation

New capabilities within Windows 10 and features of Office 365 aim to help users create content simply and seamlessly. They enable workers to visualize information in new ways and create compelling content with intelligent applications, Emigh says. Windows 365 delivers new tools to connect the experience across multiple devices and work naturally with voice, touch and ink.

“The mouse and keyboard have served us well,” Emigh says. “But now we have touch and other methods.”

The hardware advancements the company is bringing to the market also include the HoloLens, an augmented reality tool that enables users to engage with digital content and interact with holograms. Microsoft sees this tool serving a variety of roles, in development, fieldwork, education, telepresence, entertainment and gaming.

The company also is bolstering its software with artificial intelligence capabilities, Emigh says. For example, PowerPoint will be equipped with artificial intelligence to help users create presentations more easily and also offer real-time translation capabilities for content.

Microsoft has designed the suite to deliver a consistent experience, enabling users to maintain their creative focus even when they change devices. Applications and data will follow a user’s profile across devices, Emigh says. The suite also provides users with 1 terabyte of cloud storage, enabling them to manage and share files from anywhere. The company guarantees 99.9 percent uptime and offers 24/7 support both online and via telephone.

2. Agencies Can Foster Teamwork with Digital Collaboration

With Microsoft 365, the company wants users to share responsibility and outcomes, Emigh says. To achieve this goal, the platform pulls together a diverse set of applications into a single toolkit. Microsoft Teams collects these tools, bringing together email, the Yammer messaging client and Skype for video chat and voice calls.

“This portal becomes a digital hub that consolidates the people, the documents and the information that we’re sharing,” Emigh says.

3. Drive Simplicity in Devices and Tools

A simple experience is a powerful one for users in the modern workplace. A key goal for Microsoft’s collaboration efforts is to minimize the total cost of ownership for the tools that enable it, Emigh said. Further, the company wants to provide for comprehensive management of the workforce and to support a variety of operating systems, including Windows, macOS, iOS and Android.

Microsoft offers several solutions to simplify collaboration, such as Windows AutoPilot, a service to set up and preconfigure new devices so users can get up to speed quickly and easily. AutoPilot offers organizations the ability to provision devices with essential applications already loaded and security settings already established. It also allows IT teams to easily reset, repurpose and recover devices.

The MyAnalytics dashboard gives users information about how they are utilizing Microsoft tools to help them use the solutions (as well as their time) more effectively. For example, users can see not only how much time they spend in meetings each week, but also how much of that time is spent multitasking — if most of their time is spent checking email, Emigh says, they may want to rethink their meeting schedule.

4. Ensure Security with Numerous Layers of Defense

“No matter how great the technology is, if people can’t trust it, they can’t use it,” Emigh says, noting that Microsoft spends $1 billion on this pursuit each year and patches more than 1 billion devices each month.

Microsoft 365 includes several powerful features aimed at securing devices and data:

  • Identity and access management
  • Information protection
  • Threat protection
  • Security management

These capabilities are intended to protect data regardless of what type of device it resides on: PC, phone or tablet. Microsoft has specifically aimed its security efforts at defending against phishing and other serious threats. Microsoft 365 will deliver the latest versions of both Office 365 and Windows 10, ensuring that an organization’s devices have the most effective security these solutions can provide.

Emigh identified IAM as the starting point for data security, noting that 80 percent of network penetrations come in through the front door by exploiting weak passwords.

He added that Microsoft has spent considerable time making sure that Microsoft 365 will be fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation, the security standard set by the European Union that will go into effect on May 25.

Learn more about how CDW solutions and services for mobility and collaboration can help your agency boost productivity.

simonkr/Getty Images
May 01 2018