Mind Shifts & AWS Cloud: Helping Federal Agencies Embrace Digital Transformation

Published On: August 24th, 20224 min read

Let’s say your federal agency is embarking on a digital transformation project. The RFP is out. The proposals are coming in. To be sure: Your agency needs a consulting firm with the technical know-how. But your agency also needs – and this is important – a partner who can help your leadership adapt to the shift in mindset that a government digital transformation requires to utilize a newer technology such as AWS Cloud.

Let’s take moving to the cloud as an example. Many federal agencies and departments are studying the benefits that a shift to the cloud would bring both for their employees and for constituents: improved efficiency, cost savings, and automation that enables the reallocation of resources.

They also have questions about cloud providers, composable tech stacks, and leaving behind monolithic platforms and servers housed on premises.

But as conversations begin with consulting firms and technology partners, new challenges arise related to the mind-shift necessary when federal agencies and departments genuinely embrace the cloud. For example, when shifting to the cloud, agencies no longer need to buy servers and pay for space to house those servers. But they do have to pay recurring fees for cloud usage. Instead of a one-time cost for a new stack of servers, new cost cadences can trigger their internal challenges.

Another example: In embracing the cloud, departments within an agency – and without – can more easily share previously siloed data. But embracing this new reality requires a mind-shift. In this case, not just from leadership but also from employees who can now utilize and access the data.

Technological Solutions + Thought Leadership = DMI

Through many years of working with federal partners, DMI has learned the importance of providing the right technological solution and trusted thought leadership.

DMI’s ongoing work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on their phased shift to AWS GovCloud provides a real-world example of what it looks like to couple technical skill and thought leadership to offer a complete resolution to urgent technological needs.

“There are many technical folks in the world that can build a cloud platform for a federal client. But bringing the thought leadership, and integrating the business and the technology together, is the key,” said Rajesh Sripada, Sr. Director, Business Intelligence and Data Management, DMI.

Helping an agency like the FDA embrace a new way of doing business can be difficult due to silos and information barriers that could be political, social, or cultural.

Breaking such barriers requires enormous amounts of experience and a long understanding of FDA’s culture,” said Sripada. “You have to reach out and bring people in to make the project’s success possible. It’s really not just about technology but also thought leadership at an enterprise level.”

DMI, FDA & AWS Cloud

In Phase 1 of the FDA project, DMI worked closely with agency leaders to help them understand the shifting cost cadence associated with the cloud. Sripada and his team explained how the elasticity of the cloud allows agencies to pay only for what they need and how the cost structure diverges from maintaining servers on-premises.

Similarly, the DMI team helped FDA leadership understand that when adopting an enterprise-level cloud environment, software licensing can be streamlined to eliminate duplication and save on costs. Guiding the agency through this new licensing process was arguably as critical as setting up the new AWS Cloud technology itself.

New data management avenues also opened up with the FDA’s shift to the cloud. Within the agency, stakeholders from different departments and centers collaborate as medications are considered for approval.

Previously, the FDA’s nine centers were siloed, so sharing data was extremely cumbersome – sometimes even impossible. Now, the agency has a solution that integrates data from across centers and departments. Drug reviewers can easily share their work, and data sets can be accessed on the AWS cloud, unbound from individual employees’ laptop hard drives.

Future phases of the project will integrate enterprise machine learning solutions for the FDA.

New Ways of Thinking

The reality is that technology has redefined federal government operations – leading to heightened expectations from both government employees and the public. Meeting these expectations requires agencies to be agile, proactive, and innovative in their approach.

New ways of thinking are required to develop creative, yet practical, solutions. To this end, DMI brings years of experience and thought leadership in federal government digital transformation to the table, with hundreds of federal contracts awarded since 2012. Click here to learn more.