Implementing Solutions That Are Mobile-friendly and Cross on Different Platforms

Darren Ash, CIO & Deputy Executive Director , Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
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Darren Ash, CIO & Deputy Executive Director , Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

Technological trends impacting enterprise business environment

I believe trend that I am seeing will be significant around the information centric and device agnostic concepts. By this, I mean that instead of designing solutions around a particular platform or device, we should architect with a goal of being able to successfully deliver that information to different platforms, knowing that technology is evolving too quickly for us to keep up. It makes sense to architect solutions the right way the first time in order to mitigate the high costs of future modernizations.

Our inspection workforce is quite mobile, so we need to be able to fulfill their requirements through effective use of mobile technologies and solutions. We also recognize that the public wants to be able to access NRC information on their smartphones and tablets. We will be undertaking some projects this year to make some of our most important information “mobile friendly.” With respect to social media, NRC has had great success with different forms. As important avenue of interacting with the public, we’ll continue to explore new solutions.

Things done while tuning and elevating IT's relationship with the business

Our IT organization exists to support and enable our mission. To do this, we place a premium on our interactions with the business side of the agency. This includes active listening, improving customer service, but also proactively, and collaboratively working towards strategic solutions. The business side of the agency are active participants in our IT governance process. We are also conducting a great deal of outreach, not just at headquarters, but in the regions, too. The goals of the outreach are to share information, discuss technology trends and roadmaps, and listen to their concerns and idea.

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs

The biggest challenge for enterprises such as the NRC is improving our support for a very mobile workforce. This includes implementing solutions that are mobile-friendly and cross different platforms (e.g., IOS , Android, Windows). Most importantly, the solutions should enable our staff to effectively and efficiently get the information they need to do their job, regardless of where they are. I’m impressed by how we’ve started down this path, and I expect that the solutions available in 2013 and beyond will continue to mature and improve.

The areas in business environment where solutions do not exist

NRC has a wealth of untapped information that, if uncovered with the right automated capabilities, may provide new, additional insights to better support our mission of protecting people and the environment. We are now proving this out in a small, controlled pilot. For example, this could mean using automation to more efficiently find new correlations and insights within a large volume of inspection reports. This doesn’t necessarily keep me awake at night, perhaps because of the confidence I have in the staff who are involved in the project.

My roles and responsibilities as a CIO

I was brought into my position as CIO to fix two big issues: a failing IT security program; and, IT in general. Senior leaders felt that the IT organization at the time was very risk averse, services were not meeting employee expectations, and that some important projects were struggling. We successfully turned both issues around. My role shifted to a focus on a broader, mission perspective and the strategic use of IT. The types of issues I am focused on include introducing new capabilities to support our mission and staff, such as the use of tablet PCs, and becoming more efficient in service delivery.

Lessons I learned as a CIO that can help

Through my career, I’ve come to believe that you can never have enough staff and leaders with strong “soft” skills, as opposed to the hard, technical skills. These are ones who excel at active listening, ask questions, and work effectively with their peers in the IT organization and their partners outside. They embrace the ideas and ideals of an open, collaborative work environment. Related, and just as important, we should expect our IT leaders and managers to encourage (and listen to) new ideas and be open to constructive feedback.

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