NIST altering view of technology to focus on customers

Thursday - 4/26/2012, 9:43pm EDT

Ask the CIO

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants to make its internal technology more customer-centric.

So Del Brockett, NIST's chief information officer, is taking a two-pronged approach. First, Brockett said the agency is implementing the latest version of IT standards, called the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

"ITIL allows us to look at our processes from a framework standpoint, and how we deal with changes, problems, knowledge management and other internal aspects of our processes," Brockett said. "We are looking to transition in June to a new cloud-based platform to allow us to manage those."

The second prong focuses on using pilot programs to promote innovation.

Brockett said he wants the IT organization to work with agency customers to use new and emerging technologies to solve business problems, rather than have innovation live just in the CIO's office.

"If you look at our organization, like many other CIO organizations, historically we have been organized around functional roles. We have a data center organization. I have an application development organization. Those are important because we manage those features or functions," he said. "We also are developing here at NIST a matrix type of approach to our resources around how do customers engage with us to both define and deliver those types of services. We have a number of roles that we are looking at, that in the private sector are referred to as business engagement managers. Their role is to specifically work with the different laboratories here at NIST to both define and ensure the services they receive from IT meet their needs."

Brokett said he has identified five technology areas the NIST labs have made a priority over the next three-to-five years.

"This gives both sides the ability to focus and plan for how IT innovation affects our businesses," he said.

The five areas are:

  • Mobile apps, including the development and migration of services inside the agency and those for extewrnal customers.

  • Collaboration tools and technologies, including email services, the ability to co-edit documents, business intelligence and the ability to look at different data aspects and drive analytics.

  • User device and remote access capabilities to let NIST employees use mobile devices and access data from anywhere and at anytime.

  • Network and security services

  • Data center consolidation and cloud computing

Brockett said NIST is conducting several pilots around these five areas.

The first out of the gate was an iPad test with 100 users at NIST. Brockett said the goal was to ensure NIST could secure the devices and that they added value to how employees met the mission.

"In June, we are introducing the iPad as a production service for our customers," he said. "You never know what those unique innovation areas or use areas will be and in many ways our tablet effort brought tremendous amount of value into the labs. A number of our scientists found unique uses for iPad or a tablet in their daily work."

Brockett said NIST also will look at other operating systems as well as other devices in the coming months.

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