Flipping the Educational Value Chain

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Business, governments, and even many non-profits have benefited from the windfall of a flattening world – less war, trend towards better resource distribution, new business models, digital economy proliferation, sharing workforce. Education has not

At Xentity, to us exploring NextGen Transformation using architecture, analysis, design is not about IT. IT is a core component, but we are looking at how the Next Generation will progress and transform. And with generation lines becoming more of a blur, this isn’t a 30 year delay, or even a 15 year delay. In some cases, we are talking 5 to 10 years for transformation of a generation. Given such, when we examine workforce capital, we are truly interested in the changing models not just in the employee – which by the way, is a relic of the industrial age – but also how those employed in your organization (employee, contractor, consultant, vendor, service provider), are changing themselves.

One way of examining this is looking at the actual next generation. The kids. This is very important. For instance, the current incoming generation, aside from now being larger than the Baby Boomer generation, has benefited from the previous 30 years of relative stability, and Millenials engage in collaborative environments, as a result of growing up in a connected world NATURALLY.  

They weren’t taught this though, what they were taught for the most part, with some Montessori, STEM Academy, and other cloud school minor exceptions, in a school model that was intended for the children to go into a pre-industrial revolution business workforce that had bells to change shifts, required discipline of a “robot” in the factory for efficiency and safety, and required still minds to take orders and execute.

When examining your organization, you may have unwritten rules, or codes that have been passed down out of habit, institutionalization, or what we know. Those unspoken rules of engagement or life definitely help manage the chaos and focus on the mission, but the question that at times needs to be asked is “Is this the right mission? If not, are these the right rules?” and thereafter of course, do you or does your organization have the political and actual capital to make the transformation.

The following, in two parts, Jim Barrett examines this phenomena of:

Mr. Barrett is not only is Xentity’s Architecture lead, but has actively served and presently engages in multiple early childhood education development advisory and exploratory boards.

 

 

Xentity recognized on CIO Review list for Most Promising Government Technology Solution and Consulting Providers 2013

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Xentity was recognized on CIO Review list for “20 Most Promising Government Technology Solution and Consulting Providers 2013” list. 

With the advent of internet technologies, there has been a change in the landscape of business processes related to the Federal Government system. But the change hasn’t been easy as it requires constant dedication to move the entire workforce from traditional systems, and getting them to seamlessly adapt to the modern systems. This transition also includes the role of technology consulting providers, whose sole responsibility is to provide a wide spectrum of services in order to help the federal agencies to cope with the changes, in the best possible manner.

As customers and business partners increasingly demand greater empowerment, it is imminent for government companies to seek for improved interactions and relationships in their entire business ecosystems, by enhancing software capabilities for collaboration, gaining deeper customer and market insight and improving process management.

In the last few months, we have looked at hundreds of solution providers and consulting companies, and shortlisted the ones that are at the forefront of tackling challenges related to government industry.

In our selection we looked at the vendor’s capability to fulfill the needs of government companies through the supply of a variety of services that support core business processes of all government verticals, including innovation areas related to advanced technologies and smart customer management. We also looked at the service providers’ capabilities related to the deployment of cloud, Big Data and analytics, mobility, and social media in the specific context of the government business.

We also evaluated the vendors support for government bridging the gap between IT and Operations Technology. We present to you, CIOReview’s 20 Most Promising Government Technology Solution and Consulting Providers 2013.

CIO Review Magazine Full Article on Xentity:

Xentity Corporation: Rapidly Designing The Needed Change In Cost-Cutting Times

By Benita M
Friday, December 6, 2013

 

Benita M

“We always try to believe that leaders want to execute positive change and can overcome the broken system. We are just that naïve,” says Matt Tricomi, Founder of Xentity Corporation in Golden, CO, named for “change your entity” which started on this premise just after 9/11 in 2001.“This desire started in 1999. I was lucky enough to be solution architect on the award winning re-architecture of united.com. It was a major revenue shift from paper to e-ticket, but the rollout included introducing kiosks to airports. Now that was both simple and impactful”. Xentity found their niche in providing these types of transformation in information lifecycle solutions. Xentity started slow, first, in providing embedded CIO and Chief Architect leadership for medium to large commercial organizations. 

Xentity progressed, in 2003, into supporting Federal Government and soon thereafter International to help IT move from the 40-year old cost center model to where the commercial world had successfully transitioned – to a service center. “Our first Federal engagement was serendipitous. Our staff was core support on the Department of the Interior (DOI) Enterprise Architecture team”, Matt recalls on how the program went from “worst to first” after over $65 million in cuts. “We wanted to help turn architecture on its head by focusing on business areas, mission, or segments at a time, rather than attack the entire enterprise from an IT first perspective.” The business transformation approach developed ultimately resulted in being adopted as the centerpiece or core to the OMB Federal Segment Architecture Methodology (FSAM) in 2008.

Xentity focuses on the rapid and strategic design, planning and transformation outreach portion of the technology investment in programs or CIO services. This upfront portion is generally 5 to 10 percent of overall IT spending. Xentity helps address the near-term cost-cutting need while introducing the right multi-year operating concepts and shifts which take advantage of disruptions like Geospatial, Cloud, Big Data, Data Supply Chain, Visualization, and Knowledge Transfer. Xentity helped data.gov overcome eighty percent in budget cut this way. “Healthcare.gov is an unfortunate classic example. If acquisition teams had access to experts to help register risks early on, the procurement could have increased the technically acceptable threshold for success.” 

One success story of Xentity is at United States Geological Survey (USGS). “After completing the DOI Geospatial Services Blueprint, one of several, the first program to be addressed was the largest: USGS National Mapping Program.” This very respected and proud 125-year old program had just been through major reductions in force, and was just trying to catch its breath. “The nation needs this program. The blueprint cited studies in which spending $1 on common “geo” data can spur $8 to $16 in economic development. Google Maps is one of thousands which use this data.” The challenge was to transition a paper map production program to be a data product and delivery services provider. “The effort affected program planning, data lifecycle, new delivery and service models, and road-mapping the technology and human resource plan. We did architecture, PMO, governance, planning, BPR, branding, etc.” Xentity, with its respected TV production capability, even supported high-gloss video production to deal with travel reduction and support communicating the program value and changes with partners and the new administration. This is definitely different than most technology firms. The National Map got back on the radar, increased usage significantly, and is expanding into more needed open data. 

Presently, Xentity is a certified 8(a) small disadvantaged business with multiple GSA Schedules and GWACs (Government Wide Acquisition Contracts). Xentity invested heavily in Federal Business management. Part of providing innovative, pragmatic, and rapid architecture and embedding talent is being able to respond quickly with compliant business management vehicles. Xentity is constantly seeking out the passionate CIOs, Program Directors, Architects, and Managers looking at transformation in this cost-cutting environment. “Sequester, Fiscal Cliff, debt ceiling, continuing resolutions–it’s all tying the hands of the executives who can look at best six months out. They don’t have the time to both re-budget and rapidly design multi-year scenarios to out-year performance drivers and options let alone staff up to speed on the latest disruptions or right innovation. That is where we come in. We start small or as fast or slow as the executive wants or believes their organization can absorb and progress.” 

How mature is your service architecture

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Figuring out what architecture style you are ready to move to is very important before jumping around great ideas vendors are selling you. Yes, the ideas are likely very good and the vendors may be right that you NEED those features, forms, concepts, etc. But, the question is your organization ready enough to adopt these service models.

Moving into service models require a greater level of maturity as you add more responsibility. An internal standalone system or even enterprise integrated systems are used by trained users 9-5. You are responsible to the service level to employees, and if it isnt up, then management would reset employee expectations during those periods. This is much different than web applications calling those systems 24/7 to untrained users with access from anywhere. More so, if the services supporting the web application could be called by other ecosystems, people could now harvest and build many other interfaces for their own community. Now your are responsible to a service level of users you do not manage – which means re-setting expectations during downtime or slow periods is very, very difficult.

By having a view of your readiness to maturity into the service arena, this can let you know how much you need to invest in business, governance, methods, applications, architecture, information and infrastructure to get there.

The Service Integration Maturity Model (SIMM) is a standardized model for organizations to guide their SOA transformation journey. By having a standard maturity model, it becomes possible for the organizations or industry to benchmark their SOA levels, to have a roadmap for transformation to assist their planning and for vendors to offer services and software against these benchmarks. (Wikipedia)

IBM and The Open Group have adopted and expanded upon these concepts. 

IBM Summary

Silo (data integration)

Level One: The organization starts from proprietary and quite ad-hoc integration, rendering the architecture brittle in the face of change.

Integrated (application integration)

Level Two: The organization moves toward some form of EAI (Enterprise Application Integration), albeit with proprietary connections and integration points. The approaches it uses are tailored to use legacy systems and attempt to dissect and re-factor through data integration.

Componentized (functional integration)

Level Three: At this level, the organization componentizes and modularizes major or critical parts of its application portfolio. It uses legacy transformation and renovation methods to re-factor legacy J2EE or .NET-based systems with clear component boundaries and scope, exposing functionality in a more modular fashion. The integration between components is through their interfaces and the contracts between them.

Simple services (process integration)

Level Four: The organization embarks on the early phases of SOA by defining and exposing services for consumption internally or externally for business partners — not quite on a large scale — but it acts as a service provider, nonetheless.

Composite services (supply-chain integration)

Level Five: Now the organization extends its influence into the value chain and into the service eco-system. Services form a contract among suppliers, consumers, and brokers who can build their own eco-system for on-demand interaction.

Virtualized services ( virtual infrastructure)

Level Six: The organization now creates a virtualized infrastructure to run applications. It achieves this level after decoupling the application, its servcies, components, and flows. Now the infrastructure is more finely tuned, and the notions of the grid and the grid service render it more agile. It externalizes its monitoring, management, and events (common event infrastructure).

Dynamically reconfigurable services (eco-system integration)

Level Seven: The organization now has a dynamically re-configurable software architecture. It can compose services at run-time using externalized policy descriptions, management, and monitoring.

Open Group Summary

Each level has a detailed set of characteristics and criteria for assessment.

The Open Group has a nice matrix that shows not only the 7 levels, but how it impacts business, governance, methods, applications, architecture, information and infrastructure.

 

Top 5 low hanging fruit to not bungle IT Procurement

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IT Procurement as been a hot button issue as one of the largest civilian IT projects – DoD IT-sized in a way – was “bungled” in almost every phase: Cost went 6x original bid, architecture was overly complicated, no system integration concept, no end to end software or data lifecycle management end, and no quality acceptance procedures, criteria, incentive or the like.

We all know some or all those problems. But as the FCW article cites: “Bungled launches didn’t start with HealthCare.gov.” Its everywhere. Its government, commercial, non-profit, everywhere.

Of course, at Xentity we are biased – we believe in take your medicine now approach – design upfront, register and buy back the risks, and then move into agile design, rapid development, and iterative launch as relevancy and the market allows.

FCW notes there is “considerable agreement on how to go about overhauling the procurement system…” but they have some consensus on 5 key actions:

1. Do a better job on defining desired outcomes upfront
2. Improve the training options for the federal acquisition workforce to put them on an even footing with vendors
3. Give agency CIOs more budget authority
4. Avoid lowest price, technically acceptable contracts on large innovation-heavy projects.
5. Use agile development strategically and mainly when a project does not require a log of interaction with legacy systems.

To too our own horn, these are many of the fundamental goals that Xentity staff and solution focuses on. In reply to those five items:

1. This is our main emphasis on the design the concept of operations, and requirements for the SOW, and registering the risks and knowing them ahead before procurement. Still allow vendors the flexibility for logical and technical design, but know upfront the various concepts that may come back and know how to score them
2. our fedbiz.xentity.com business management specialists service integrated with our architecture practice allows us to help bring contracting and procurement specialization into helping understand how vendors who may respond based on market analysi results will respond to certain requirements or solicitation frameworks
3. We are setup to help advise CIOs on enterprise portfolio, architecture, capital planning, and segment adoption of CIO services and solutions
4. We agree that the LPTA method does not work for acquiring design, planning, creative, and solution management services. LPTA beltway experts tend to game the systems by replying to architect positions with application developer rates for architects on initial task order and techincally it is acceptable, and the rates are 30% better. But its a lot like asking a cook, “can you farm?” Technically, the cook probably could, but wouldnt you want someone familiar with the subject matter expertise of agriculture economics, farming lifecycles, key risk and success factors or someone who knows food. The solution ends up costing more as MODS occur, the app developer gets replaced, and government pays the cost for missing deadlines and scope creep.
5. This is a biggie! Marketing hyped up Agile as the “it slices, it dices, it julienne’s!”. It is great for new transaction systems on abstracted solutions. It can be good for some feed ETL or integration. But, when you have an immovable object, it doesnt matter how agile you are. In those cases, you need to conduct architecture design, concept of operation alternative analysis, business case evalution, requirements definition, and register and buy back risk.

All this said, we are very happy to see this attention back onto better design and defin up front. Of course, being in this field, it is always nice to be noticed and knowing we are on the right track. More importantly, we believe it is what is needed and the right thing to do for investing wisely with our citizens or customers money/assets.