Government Thought Leadership with Bill Schrier

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While attending the 79th Annual APCO Expo and Conference in Annaheim, California, I had the opportunity to sit down with industry thought leader, Bill Schrier, (@BillSchrier)who is now with the Office of the CIO for the State of Washington. Washington has been a progressive state with technology, and Bill drove much of that Thought Leadership during his tenure there.

FLETCH: Hey, it’s Fletch with the Avaya Podcast Network and we’re here at APCO in Anaheim, California. We’re sitting down with someone that I follow quite a bit on Twitter and the ‘websphere’ and that’s Bill Schrier who is now with the Office of the CIO with the State of Washington.
Welcome to the podcast, Bill.

BILL: Thank you, Fletch. Glad to be here.

FLETCH: It’s absolutely an honor for me to finally sit down with you after all these years. We talk from time-to-time but this is a great opportunity to get some really interesting stuff out there. Next Gen 9-1-1 is happening. The conference at APCO is all about Next Gen 9-1-1 and you and I were just talking about Next Generation 3-1-1 and how those applications might actually be paving the road for what we’re going to be doing in public safety.

BILL: Absolutely right. There’s a ton of exciting stuff that’s going on with 3-1-1 around the country. Of course, 3-1-1 is not universal. There are only larger cities and counties I think have it but nevertheless, 3-1-1 is kind of paving the way for Next Generation 9-1-1 and it’s use of applications, video and images.

FLETCH: And we’ve talked about Boston for example. They’re using an app to report potholes, right? So that’s taking data from the cellphone, that’s additional data, something that we’re talking about and it’s putting that information into the 3-1-1 center.

BILL: That’s right. I forgot the name of the Boston app actually that actually uses the accelerometer in the iPhone so it knows if you’re going over a pothole and then tries to report it. Boston’s also got something called Citizen Connect and the Citizen Connect interface is directly with their 3-1-1 System. Citizen Connect is where you can, as a citizen in Boston, I take a photograph for example of a missed garbage pickup or downed stop sign or a dead animal on the street or a street light out, send the photograph into a report and it goes right into Boston’s Constituent Relationship Management System and then can be dispatched to city workers. So Citizen Connect is kind of a cool app as well.

Boston_App.jpg

FLETCH: So you could also start tracking metrics, which I think is really important. If you’re going to have an app, you’ve got to track the metrics.

BILL: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I think we need to get to with things like Citizen Connect with 3-1-1. It’s just like tracking a package for FedEx or UPS where you actually know the date timestamp of when the call came in, when it was triaged, when it was dispatched to a crew, when the crew got there, when the thing was fixed and then you’ve even sent an email or somehow otherwise contact the citizen and say, “Is it really fixed and was it fixed to your satisfaction?”

FLETCH: You were the CTO for the City of Seattle. What do you think was your biggest accomplishment there?

BILL: Well I think one of the biggest accomplishments was open data. We actually have that at Seattle now and Seattle was one of the first cities who actually do this, something called Data.Seattle.Gov and we’ve put out a whole bunch of data sets. We’ve exposed government data, data that the governments are collecting about building permits or crimes or 9-1-1 calls or whole hosts of other things on Data.Seattle.Gov for anyone to see.

FLETCH: That’s what Next Generation is really becoming all about, the big data. We’re looking at lots and lots of big data. One thing that came out just recently right here at Southern California was the big data that they looked at around 9-1-1 calls and the accuracy of the location on that. Did you happen to see that report?

BILL: No. I didn’t actually.

FLETCH: The CalNENA Chapter actually used Public Safety Networks, and what they did was they collected all of the call data from Cellular 9-1-1 calls and whether they received Phase I or Phase II data at the end of the call. And what they showed over the last 2 years a decrease in location accuracy mainly because of the saturation of cellphones and people making calls inside the buildings. The report didn’t cover that, that’s my assumption based on the data. But this is a perfect example where we’ve got to start looking at this big data. It’s more than just, “9-1-1 What is your emergency?”

BILL: Yeah. Absolutely right. Especially when you consider the fact that not only is your iPhone or Smartphone potentially a huge data collector for a number of different data points. But vehicles are getting automated as well. Vehicles already collect a lot of data although it isn’t necessarily stored but what’s going on in the vehicle. But the National Transportation Safety Board just a couple of weeks ago started to publicly push car manufacturers to collect a lot more data and actually create connected vehicle networks where vehicles might talk to each others as they’re driving down the street to help improve traffic safety.

FLETCH: What you have right now is the information the telematics that OnStar can to collect from your vehicle when you overturn in the median. The DeltaV, what occupants were sitting etc., I heard they [the DOT] could predict, based on some studies, with 80% accuracy what the injuries are. Imagine getting that data right through the ESI Network, the Next Gen 9-1-1 Network to the Healthcare System; Fire up the helicopter, and get Dr. Bob off the golf course. That’s one of the use cases that I talk about for Next Gen 9-1-1. Again, all focused on big data.

BILL: Exactly. As a matter of fact, Kevin McGinnis as you might know is on the First Responder Network Authority, a FirstNet Board Member, will describe that in detail when he’s talking. How that could vastly improve EMS especially in rural areas where it might take 20 minutes for the accident to actually be discovered and then 20 minutes or 30 minutes for the ambulance or the medic unit to actually get there.

FLETCH: Yeah. You know rural America really is a problematic area for public safety for those exact reasons. They don’t have the population therefore they don’t have the technology and that just puts people at risks. So now, if you live in a big city here in a high rise, your cellphone doesn’t work for 9-1-1 yet, everybody is dropping their wired landline. So you can see where this is beginning to be a really big problem and we need a little more guidance on it.
What are you doing for the State of Washington now? You are with the Office of the CIO?

BILL: Well, I’m the FirstNet point of contact which means that I will actually work with police and fire chiefs and mayors and utility directors not just in State Agencies but across the state to help prepare for FirstNet construction in the state. Another significant job I’ve got is with Data.WA.Gov, the open data set for Washington State which has got 500 or 600 data sets and I’m trying to evangelize putting more government data out or open that data up. And that actually could be just a grasp for the application developers to develop apps to actually better show citizens what’s happening with their state government.

FLETCH: And there’s a lot going on with data here at APCO too you mentioned?

BILL: Yes. As a matter of fact, tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday afternoon and this isn’t a common knowledge yet but will be by the time the Podcast is broadcast, APCO is going to host the Data Jam. So APCO has actually invited developers and they’ve actually worked with Whitehouse Office of Science and Technology Policy on this. They are inviting developers from around the region here in Southern California to come to a Data Jam and actually look at some of these open data sets from across the country and see what sort of applications they might be able to design or develop. They would better expose public safety information either the responders or the citizens.

FLETCH: Really cool stuff. You know, we’re kind of really lucky. You and I got to watch the Telecommunications Industry grow and explode, we’ve got to watch the internet grow and explode and now we’re watching Next Generation Emergency Services grow and explode. It’s really some exciting times and I’m glad to know you Bill, and I really appreciate you sitting down with me. You always have a great view of the world as its going and I find you very, very interesting.

BILL: Thank you, Fletch. It’s very enjoyable to be with you today.


Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

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Wrangling the IoT: The Next-Gen Architecture We’ve All Been Waiting For

Technologies like AI, the IoT, virtual reality and data analytics are no longer enterprise luxuries, but means of survival in an era of rapid digital disruption. They’re transforming traditional processes, redefining roles and responsibilities, and reimaging the customer/brand relationship. Consider that five years from now, more than one-third of skills needed in today’s workforce will look different because of technological advancement. Three years from now, 100 million consumers are expected to be shopping in virtual reality. Data algorithms are now being used to positively alter the behavior of workers.

These technologies are no longer the basis for science-fiction movies like “The Terminator” or “The Matrix.” They’re here and now. Today, millions of people can watch chatbots argue with each other for entertainment. People are spending days in virtual reality, essentially living in an alternate universe.

Who’s to say that far-reaching movie plots like “Her” and “I, Robot” won’t become reality 30 years from now? We can’t say for sure, however, one thing we do know is that businesses must transition from legacy, hierarchal architecture to a next-generation platform so they can flexibly respond at today’s speed of digital change.

In a recent blog, I explored five key areas of this next-generation platform that every business must consider: next-gen IT, the IoT, AI/automation, an open ecosystem, and the customer/citizens experience. I tackled the first of these five areas: next-gen IT. Now, let’s explore what businesses should know about a next-generation platform in terms of the IoT.

The Only Way to Bring Legacy into Today’s Next-Gen World of IoT

Capitalizing on the IoT is an exponential challenge when core systems and applications are still running in a legacy-dependent environment. To succeed, companies must bring legacy into today’s next-generation world of IoT—a process with its own set of unique challenges.

For starters, the IoT is a vast and loosely defined concept. Some define the IoT simply as sensorous technology. Others, the interworking of various embedded devices that can collect and exchange data. The way I see it, anything that can connect to either a network or provide any sort of service (not just data collection and exchange) should be considered part of the IoT. Because virtually anything can be considered part of the IoT, it becomes difficult to implement one single solution designed to target all IoT requirements. Because of this, we see many IoT solutions on the market today (i.e., Bluetooth, WiFi, ZigBee, LPWAN) that support a range of different requirements.

These solutions also typically don’t use IP protocols, making them impractical in today’s world of any-to-any communication. With billions of connected devices in use today, companies must migrate away from non-IP technologies towards converged architecture to begin building process workflow automation based on IoT analytics. For example, consider a utility company that can automatically notify customers of the impact of an impending weather storm based on predictive analytics from sensors deployed throughout its power lines. The provider can then increase the reliability of their services while keeping customers informed on the severity of the storm using real-time data. As you can see, breaking the silos between various “data sets” (Big Data) is the key to building workflows that are impactful to customers and/or citizens.

The end goal of the IoT is to create automated (and in many cases data-driven) processes that generate the exact business or customers/citizens outcome you’re looking for. The right technology foundation is essential for turning this goal into a practical reality.

So, what’s the answer? An open, software-enabled, meshed architecture platform. This next-generation platform makes it easy to migrate from legacy architecture to begin securely deploying IoT devices that drive higher levels of efficiency:

  • Open, SDN architecture supports unmatched levels of IoT intelligence. The platform continuously learns and changes conditions as needed via constantly updated traffic flows. Consider, for example, asset utilization reports that detail up-to-the-minute operational activity, enabling decision makers to change course as needed for continual improvement and cost savings. Meanwhile, an open-sourced ecosystem offers programmable APIs that allow companies to customize their IoT services and applications to meet their exact needs.
  • End-to-end network segmentation delivers built-in, point-to-point security for up to 168,000 devices that can run on any vendor’s network. This is achieved through three core components—hyper-segmentation, native stealth and automated elasticity—that work in unison to effectively isolate and filter traffic from IoT device to destination. End-to-end network segmentation is inherently designed to secure the IoT ecosystem, and yet only 23% of companies currently have such a solution deployed.
  • An SDN-based IoT controller seamlessly manages the integrated IoT environment. Based on a multi-protocol controller that manages all service modules within the framework, the IoT controller can assign service profiles to open networking adaptors, manage interfaces into SDN program environments, expose north and southbound APIs, and more.

The fact is this: the IoT is a reality that’s only going to substantially accelerate. Three years from now, it’s expected that companies will be spending up to $2 trillion on IoT devices. Five years from now, analysts predict that the IoT will save consumers and businesses $1 trillion per year. In this same period, though, it’s expected that more than 25% of identified enterprise attacks will involve the IoT. During this time, many businesses will continue to struggle with IoT security and management.

We’re only seeing the beginning of what can be achieved with the IoT, but these possibilities are limited without the right technology foundation. The last three decades have seen humans manually providing input to generate desired outcomes, whereas digital enterprises are now using sensors as the input mechanism, combined with sophisticated automated workflows. Scary one may say, but nonetheless our reality.

Think about it: does a self-driving car need any input from humans? Not if the vehicle knows the driver’s calendar, destination and location of people you may need to pick up. It will automatically take the preferred route to keep you on time, find the closest parking space (smart parking), and even, if required, let people know you’ve arrived. At this point, humans are simply going for the ride! This is exactly why the right IoT foundation is so critical to digital transformation. It’s imperative that businesses invest in a next-generation platform that can deliver the simplicity needed to connect, secure and manage the ever-growing number of IoT devices. At the end of the day, a meshed architecture platform represents the best—and arguably the only—way to effectively reduce IoT breaches, rapidly innovate, and improve IT staff efficiency. The possibilities of IoT are seemingly endless for businesses with this foundation.

Up next, we’ll be tackling the third key area of a next-generation platform: artificial intelligence/automation. Be sure to check back soon!

The 2020 Network Is Here: Stop Visualizing and Start Deploying

At this point, it’s safe to say you’ve heard of digital transformation and the radical changes it’s driving within the enterprise as we approach the 2020 network. For example, up to 45% of activities that employees are paid to perform can now be automated. Companies are working overtime to identify security solutions that defend against vulnerabilities found in 70% of IoT devices today. The average business now offers customers up to nine engagement channels to be used across a vast array of devices.

Organizational boundaries are blurring. The speed of change has become relentless. Networking as we know it has been redefined. All of this, of course, has significantly changed the role of IT within the modern-day enterprise.

The days of troubleshooting computers and running phone lines are dead and gone. Today, IT represents the foundation for numerous key areas of business, many that far surpass the norm. CIOs are emerging as leaders of customer-facing functions, responsible for driving digital user experiences organization-wide. Business owners are strategically using IT to accelerate their core revenue-generating activities. Half are now collecting ideas through business unit workshops facilitated by IT. Driven by digital transformation, IT has changed to the point of no return.

Digital transformation, however, is far from over. Research makes it clear we’re only getting started. Consider the vast changes expected to occur over the next three years alone. Gartner predicts that by 2020:

  • 100 million consumers will shop in virtual reality
  • 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen
  • Algorithms will positively alter the behavior of billions of global workers

By 2021, 20% of all activities will involve at least one of seven digital giants like Amazon, Facebook, or Apple. By 2022, a blockchain-based business will be worth an estimated $10 billion. It’s clear the potential of trends like the IoT, cloud, big data analytics, and robotics is far from fulfilled and will only accelerate substantially as we move forward.

This all leads to one very important question: what will the network of 2020 look like? This massive, continued change will surely place unprecedented demand on IT infrastructure looking ahead.

Almost a year ago, Principal Analyst at ZK Research, Zeus Kerravala, aimed to answer this question via an article published to Network World. In it, he outlined key challenges that lie ahead for companies looking to capitalize on digital transformation (i.e., lack of automation, nodal configuration, multicast deployments), as well as what the network of 2020 will look like. Terms like simplified, mobile-centric, enhanced for contextualized customer experiences, and hyper-converged rounded out a comprehensive list of components, all which are just as valid today as they were this time last year.

Over the last year, however, Avaya has worked to streamline the 2020 network by condensing the technology into five key areas that businesses across every industry must consider: deep and wide automation, improved scalability, built-in security, mesh architecture, and an open network ecosystem.

Five Key Areas of the 2020 Network Every Business Must Know

  1. Deep and wide automation:

    As enterprises start aligning IT around their core business priorities, they must work to support two levels of automation: the first for automating the network architecture itself, and the second for automating various business workflows. The first involves eliminating complex, nodal configurations (traditionally required for service deployment) in order to easily add capacity and scaling capabilities. The second involves adopting a powerful, open workflow engine to increase productivity and overall efficiency. Network and workflow automation are essential for achieving the utmost business success.

  2. Scalability:

    Traditionally, scaling your architecture required that you replace your existing nodes with faster ones. In today’s smart, digital world, however, companies must evolve traditional scalability from legacy hierarchal architecture to fabric-based architecture. This move will enable them to add capacity at will and simulate nodal configuration, much like VMWare did with the introduction of server virtualization. The industry needs an end-to-end simplified virtualized network.

  3. Built-in security:

    The static configuration of legacy architecture will never offer the right level of network security needed today, nor will it support the future of the CX. As such, companies must work to eliminate legacy downfall when deploying next-generation architecture. This means sharpening the blurry, gray areas of network security—for example, when employees’ devices begin fading in and out of Wi-Fi when roaming in the parking lot. With more connected devices and more ways than ever to compromise them, it’s imperative that the 2020 network deliver any-to-any, end-to-end, built-in security. In other words, end-to-end network segmentation complemented by sophisticated authentication, encryption where needed, and real-time threat protection.

  4. Meshed architecture:

    The 2020 network epitomizes freedom of deployment. It means companies can move away from traditional hierarchal deployment and finally mesh their architecture. No more linearly connecting parts. No more limitations of Ethernet loops. A natively meshed architecture will empower organizations with unparalleled resiliency and scalability end to end (not just within the data center). At universities, for example, this means hyper-segmented, end-to-end connection across multiple campuses. At a bank, this kind of connectivity can be deployed between branch sites taking full advantage of cloud-based services. The user possibilities and business outcomes are seemingly endless.

  5. Open ecosystem:

    We live in a world of software-defined everything: SD-WAN SD-storage, SD-data center. The fact is that we’re rapidly and inevitably moving towards an open-sourced ecosystem. To prepare for this reality, businesses must ensure those vendors they invest in offer open APIs. This enables them to truly customize solution features and capabilities to meet their exact business needs. The 2020 network will no longer just endorse proprietary systems—but businesses need to continue to be cautious about how to take full advantage of open-source code without increasing business risks through vulnerabilities.

It’s imperative that organizations educate themselves on the 2020 network, not only visualizing it but taking the necessary steps for deployment. The future of networking is here, and it’s going to influence and shape your business. To learn more about these five key areas of the 2020 network, read IDC’s all-new Networks 2020 preparedness report, sponsored by Avaya.

Continuous Learning: Propelling Forward in a Rapidly and Inevitably Changing World

Whether we realize it or not, advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have transformed the way we think about the world around us. From how we protect our schools to the way we navigate our streets to how we shop for groceries, such technology now lies at the heart of practically everything we do today.

Just as these technologies have changed the way we live, they have changed the way we work. Today’s rapid pace of innovation has transformed nearly every business task, process, and workflow imaginable—so much so that industry analysts estimate that up to 45% of activities that employees are paid to perform can now be automated.

This digital disruption—or what many are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution—without question redefines traditional roles and responsibilities. In fact, research shows that in five years, more than one third of skills that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed. Even more, analysts estimate that 65% of children today will grow up to work in roles that don’t yet exist.

While we do still see employees that specialize in one skill or expertise, we’ve mostly moved away from the days of hiring an employee for just one job. As technology evolves, so too do the skills required to innovate and propel forward. Looking ahead, employees must have a propensity for continuous learning and adopting new skills to be able to recognize and respond to today’s speed of digital change.

Consider how technology has changed the marketing paradigm. As recently as 10 years ago, marketing platforms like Marketo and HubSpot had only just been founded, Facebook was still in its infancy, and the first iPhone had newly hit the market. As technologies like cloud, social, mobile and big data evolved, however, we suddenly began seeing new tools specifically designed to enhance digital media, social media marketing, and mobile marketing. As a result, companies began searching to fill roles for social media coordinators, digital campaign managers and integrated marketing planners—jobs that were unfathomable 15 to 20 years prior.

Fast forward to today and we’re seeing the emergence of new technology for marketing, such as augmented reality, geofencing, and emotion detection. The continual emergence of new technology perpetually creates skills gaps that must be filled by employees who are passionate, motivated, and invested in their own learning. These kinds of team members are committed to developing new skills and leveraging their strengths to outperform.

But not all employees can easily identify their strengths or develop new skills. This is likely why nearly half of employees today feel unengaged at work, with nearly 20% feeling “actively disengaged.” At the same time, companies are struggling to align employee strengths with organizational priorities. Employees may have certain strengths, but employers may find those skills don’t directly increase operational efficiency or performance. This is why nearly 80% of businesses are more worried about a talent shortage today than they were two years ago.

So, what’s the answer? Employees and employers must work together to identify what roles are currently filled, what skills are still needed, and who best exemplifies those skills. For employees, this means taking control of how they grow their careers and improving for the better. For employers, this means displaying an unwavering commitment to employee reinvestment by understanding key areas of interest to effectively fill skills gaps.

At Avaya, for example, we’re leading an employee enablement program under our Marketing 3.0 strategy. The initiative is designed to help strengthen our marketing organization by equipping employees with the right competencies that reflect our culture, strategy, expectations and market dynamics. By doing so, we can ensure we’re recruiting and managing talent in the most strategic way, putting the right people in the right jobs with the abilities to perform at maximum potential every day. By having each marketing function participate in a simple knowledge profile exercise, we can begin objectively determining development opportunities that best meet their needs and the needs of our business.

As technology continuously evolves, it’s crucial that employees have a propensity for continuous learning and that organizations foster an environment for this learning. In the words of former GE CEO Jack Welch, “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

We live in a world that is rapidly and inevitably changing. Employees should embrace this change to thrive, and must if they wish to propel business forward. As employers, we are responsible for strategically leveraging our resources to align employee strengths with organizational needs to succeed in this environment of constant change.