The Next President's IT Modernization Moment

Over the last two decades, much has been said about how to modernize federal IT.  Laws have been passed, policies have been issued, white papers have been written, conferences have been attended.  20 years later, we have a mess.  $80B in annual spending, recurring cyber breaches, and a concentration of spending on operations and maintenance that is basically destroying any hope of helping missions with better technology solutions. Depressed?  There is hope. The emergence of Salesforce as a chosen application modernization platform for federal agencies will make the next President the IT modernization President.

20 years of modernization efforts have not failed due to the laws or the people. In reality, there has been minimal modernization progress due to the lack of a modern, application architecture alternative.  Sure, we have better cyber solutions, hosting solutions, virtualization solutions, development languages, and database solutions.  But, nothing has been available to fundamentally change the way that applications are developed and deployed.  We basically build solutions today, the same way they were built 20 years ago. The development languages are different, the underlying technology vendors are different, but the application architecture approach is very much the same...layers of technologies stitched together by your developers and hosted in your data center.

All of this is changing and quickly.  I'm not talking about data center consolidation.  I'm not talking about cloud hosting.  I'm talking about major Agencies re-developing their legacy applications in a completely modern way.  VA, USDA, GSA, State Department, SBA, Amtrak, and many others are adopting a completely new way of building and deploying applications for their missions.  Security strength is going up, O&M costs are going way down.  Applications are being built fast, reliance on legacy bloated O&M vendors is going away.

We are living in a sea change moment for federal IT.  This is not a change in the way the game is played, this is a whole new game.  Vendors that don't adapt will die off.  Vendors that lead this IT revolution will grow and succeed.  IT leaders who lead will be rewarded as heroes who shepherded in a once in a lifetime era of technology change.  I'm talking about a full scale period of federal IT renaissance.

Recently I met with some senior leadership and I was asked what they should be asking of IT leaders throughout the federal sector.  My reply is that every IT leader should be asked how they are going to reduce IT spend in their Agency by 50%.  What is the 50% reduction plan?  50% reduction is impossible with the legacy application approaches.  50% reduction is very much possible with modern application development platforms, like Salesforce.

At Phase One, we are vendor agnostic but experience biased.  Our experience is that applications built on the Salesforce platform are built significantly faster than expected, and save significantly more O&M money than expected.  Securing the technology stack is part of the Salesforce service fee, and so Agencies are left with well managed and secured applications without the need for huge O&M vendor contracts.  This is not an incremental technology improvement, this is a whole new way to do application development and management.  Build fast and retire those legacy O&M burdens.

The next President will preside over 4 or 8 years of absolute radical change in federal IT. The last 7 years have been interesting, but the availability of Salesforce as a modern application development platform within the federal sector will make the next 4 or 8 years absolutely mind-blowing.  This is no slight to the IT leaders of the last 20 years.  This is not about laws and leadership.  This is about the availability of game changing technologies that radically simplify the way applications are development and deployed.  Today we have the modern technology platform in Salesforce, and its adoption will be a major boost for the next President's IT modernization agenda.