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As we all know far too well, we are living amid an ever-changing "new normal" that continues to evolve in drastic and unforeseen ways every day. The COVID-19 global pandemic crisis has impacted nearly every aspect of our daily lives, both personally and professionally.

From a Public Sector perspective, I'm acutely aware of the impact this is having on federal agencies with their workforce now remote and their networks overtaxed. The Public Sector is presently faced with the peculiar challenge of catapulting forward the oft buzzworthy concepts of digital transformation and IT modernizations from lofty ideas of future innovation to pragmatic, actionable and tangible solutions that are desperately needed today.

New considerations for the Public Sector

We are all adapting to working from home, doing our best to carry on regular routines remotely. In this time of uncertainty, federal agencies are looking to industry for answers as well as solutions, and the common denominator of innovation in play remains the power of artificial intelligence.

On Tuesday, March 31, I joined a virtual panel of industry experts for a webcast held by World Wide Technology to discuss the future impact of AI and human capital—in the near term to respond to the current global situation, as well as how it can be leveraged moving forward to unleash its full potential.

AI webcast

The webcast, The New IQ: The Future of AI for Human Capital, was held in lieu of WWT's previously scheduled AI Industry Day, which we decided to postpone for a future date due to the ongoing public health crisis.

Tim Hartman, Chief Executive Officer for Government Executive Media Group, Inc., moderated our virtual panel, which included Dorothy Aronson, Chief Information Officer for the National Science Foundation, and co-chair of the Federal CIO Council's Workforce Committee; and Justin Lynch, Director for Training and Recruiting AI Talent for the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.

Webcast panel speakers

Tim and Dorothy began the discussion, addressing how CIOs across government are adapting to new remote requirements and responses. 

Not only is Dorothy a highly regarded voice of expertise in the CIO community with a wealth of institutional knowledge, but she has found herself right in the thick of our current health crisis, as the mission of her federal agency (NSF) is to fund research into nearly every scientific discipline. 

The importance of this mission has only been heightened as agencies look to industry for support; and to those businesses looking for how best to assist in this time of need, Dorothy made her message clear: "If an agency reaches out to a vendor, try to respond with a sense of urgency," Dorothy insisted.

She advised that it is helpful for contractors to keep track of where their services are deployed across government and the contacts within government agencies. For example, if a vendor provides a product to one department, and another department is seeking the same product, the vendor should help expediate the process, play liaison, and connect the two agencies. 

"It's easier for us [NSF] to establish interagency agreements than it is for us to establish a new contract," she said, hammering home the helpful importance of urgency and interoperability across agencies. Connectivity and collaboration among federal agencies and private industry are paramount to ensuring a successful remote workforce, no matter how long this "new normal" may last.

Turning the conversation away from the near-term crisis impact, Tim, Justin and I further discussed the future impact of AI and human capital more broadly, looking at trends in the marketplace that may clue industry experts in to what is to come.

From a data sharing perspective, there must be openness within the government to adjust their policies to enable the maximum possible use of innovation at work. 

As AI further augments the role of human capital, remotely as well as in the workplace, we will continue to see public and private actors cooperating in pursuit of a new public sector AI strategy, and open enterprise to allow for greater innovation is absolutely critical.

As with change of all kinds, there is an innate fear of possible failure. From adjusting to a remote workforce, to developing the right solutions to ensure enterprise systems can handle the swift and overcrowded transition, not every solution will be the right one nor the sole-source fix-all. We need to be okay with failing, and fail fast and often. That is the only way we will find out what innovative solution truly works.

The key to all of this is data

We must come to realize and truly accept that every conversation is a data conversation—from AI to human capital—and without a doubt the unsung heroes at work behind the scenes are those working data governance and data maturity. 

Data governance and data maturity play a critically important role in the work being done within the federal government and throughout our work at WWT among our federal partners and customers. Conversely, AI can help agencies mature their data governance and perform more meaningful program evaluation and assessment. By spotlighting the importance of data governance, and ensuring success factors are properly created and measured, we can use AI excitement to drive real change.

WWT has made great strides as a company in the way of its own data maturity curve, leveraging AI in everything from supply chain to our Advanced Technology Center. And something we noticed is that we needed to even further innovate our integrated capabilities to allow for complete digital, remote accessibility.

A digital platform for innovation

And we are thrilled to say that is now a fully integrated digital platform that brings the many benefits of WWT's ATC straight to you. For years, the ATC has benefited our partners and our customers, and now that collaborative environment is available both internally and externally as a digital ecosystem. 

With WWT's digital platform, our customers and partners are readily able to leverage state-of-the-art technologies to schedule digital labs and workshops, learn from past proofs of concepts, conduct product benchmarking, and validate architectures. We invite you to go to today and sign up for a free account to gain access to a tremendous set of resources that you can leverage to develop and deliver innovative technology solutions.

To learn more about WWT's new digital platform, I invite you to view this brief overview video in which I walk through the fully integrated capabilities and help you get to know the new

The future of AI

The nature of artificial intelligence is ever evolving. As AI becomes smarter, those working in the AI field will need to adjust and evolve as well. From developers to policymakers, we should welcome an openness to blend roles—have data scientists inform policy wonks and vice versa. When we imagine what the future workforce will entail, consider the benefits of a "man-plus-machine" approach.

As AI transforms the way organizations think about their workforce, the potential impact of human capital remains of the highest importance. In order to protect and foster a talented workforce, companies and agencies alike must invest in that talent and provide the means of which to bridge the skills gap between man and machine. With machine learning technology integrated among a skilled human workforce to collaborate as a cohesive team, agencies and organizations can raise their AI IQ to truly capitalize on the power of data.

In the event you were unable to join the webcast in real time, know that you can view full recording anytime, as it is now available on demand here.

Stay tuned for more information from WWT regarding updating digital events and features.