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

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Matt Tricomi

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.” 

Xentity powered team wins VA Outreach Video work

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Xentity, as subcontractor to PhaseOne Consulting Group, will lead the end to end video production of the Alaska Veterans and the value and benefit the VA has played in their lives in hopes of boasting enrollment of rural residents as part of an overall outreach toolkit for rural outreach in Alaska. 

The approach presented was to lead strategy development, design, and script-writing of a High-Definition Video and execute production shoots on-site in Alaska and execute a high-quality post-production effort for distribution. Xentity is excited to be part of this team and assist the Department of Veteran Affairs in improvement of access and visibility to its benefits services.

 This solution fits into Xentity’s capabilities Media Production capabilities with its FlipFlop Production branded services.

Transformation cannot survive without a Powerpoint intervention

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We’ve subscribed to Google Groups “The Enterprise Architecture Network” group for several years now. Mostly lurking.  Over that time, we definitely have been able to put great items in our “shopping cart” and gather a tenor of the state of EA. Our methods and work products are becoming more streamlined – at varying paces of satisfaction. Our work products are improving with training and information availability. But in that time, much like our U.S. policies on EA hasn’t changed since the Clinger-Cohen Act in 1996 pre-internet, neither has our EA communication mediums. 

We could blame ourselves, as we do as we are natural evaluators, and we tend to work on content, methods, arguing approaches – we look at the hard science. This is not uncommon as EAs tend to derive from IT which is about logic, organization, and somehow dealing with rapid transformation.
But, the executives, the ones we work for are still struggling with how they go about Layering Cultural and Business Transformation with rapid technology transformation. 
I’d offer we are looking in the wrong place. Yes, our methods, frameworks, tools could improve – a lot! But its the softer side of how we present, what we present to which audience I believe is what is killing enterprise, segment, portfolio, or any large transformation efforts with enterprise architecture seeking to be in the forefront. 

We’d offer an initial focus change for EA and transformation in and of itself: change our communication mediums

Corporations and Government are in lust with slideware, so we use such. To the point, Powerpoint is killing transformation analysis and EA and other complex topics and our core architecture conceptsPPT is too sequential and too outline oriented. Its been used, abused, and most of the time we use it in knee-jerk fashion.

How we get them off slide-meth (or pick your drug metaphor) is the trick?  Call me a Tuftian (Search Edward Tufte Powerpoint).

Getting people to care about Transformation and Architecture

Anyhow, if we want people to care, back to the title of the thread in Google groups, I think the content from this group and the general community is all well and very good in many cases, but we are in need of a branding enema. 
EA is in desperate need of marketing and branding. The efforts of the EA Google Group community and across the spectrum are good basis of content, but finding that audience to engage is our interest.  We need a way to focus on storytelling the output to multiple audiences. Anyone interested in some new mediums for presenting EA or transformation concepts.
To be very fair, at my company, we’re a a big offender as well – buzzword bingo, write too much (constant battle with the Twain Pascal quote “If I Had More Time I Would Write a Shorter Letter”) , go too far down path ahead of client, pushing, etc. while balancing challenging the client, helping them challenge themselves, simplifying complexity, and seek what most people fear – change. 
So, as a start, we have beta’d some variant approaches on some clients –
  • Early phases of powerpoint exit strategy 
    • Weening off powerpoint with 1-pager and a graphic and more discussion time, no presentation (maybe some highlights)
    • Switching powerpoints to be graphical only/mostly and use whitepaper conpendium so they can read themselves when discussing graphic
  • Increasing communication role over work products
    • Treating Communication products as dear and near as our architecture work products when organizing by audience level and focus area (choose your favorite framework when considering that)
    • Interactive data visualization for self-exploration with an executive summary – make it fun to see the line of sight.
  • Agile Management and its communication mediums/tools – notification tracking with plans as they are implemented in Program Management Offices
    • Minor little things like allowing users to reply to the notification and not to have to log in
    • Integrate Content wiki’s with data repositories to increase exploration possibilities and context which allows to notifications on discussions
    • Shifting email discussions to comment threads on issue tracking and content wiki’s which again further increase transparency and exposes transactive knowledge hidden in emails or hidden group threads.
  • Storytell with the goals, outcomes, impacts, and other high-points and denouement.  
    • Can be done using a low-cost high-quality mini-documentary (TLC/History Cable Channel quality) style that storytells about programs, the changes, from customer and investor point of views (rather than self-serving). 
    • Blog more – storytell more – bits and pieces at a time – rather than gems hidden in industry groups, open up the transparency and inclusivity of the topics.
But, we would like to take a step further.  

Here is an example of a mini-documentary, one in a series of four that helps tell the story of the client’s program, its value and the underlying tone of change its undergone, undergoing, and planned:

More can be seen at Communication Services (Video Series Example) which further describes:
These simple stories can show and explain the value of complex programs products, services, solutions, and systems that powerpoints, whitepapers, or multiple conferences cannot achieve. As well, these mediums have helped convey messages, even during times of pressures to reduce travel.

We’d like to do a video series for transformation and EA not unlike what Penn State did for Geospatial as part of their Geospatial Revolution Series – http://geospatialrevolution.psu.edu/ . It would be interesting to pool partners, efforts, gather up funding, and put together a series (process disclaimers aside) using mediums that connect EA and transformation in this new light. Anyone interested, can keep posted on threads in Google Groups “The Enterprise Architecture Network” group

Two New Videos released

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– “Migrated to Confluence 5.3”

As part of a Mapping Series Video Set, USGS has released two new videos highlighting two of their premier geospatial and mapping products – Elevation and US Topo Maps respectively. For both the videos, Xentity supported the full production lifecycle.

Elevation

US Topo

See other Videos Xentity has supported:

Introduction to the The National Map

The Role of Hydrography in The National Map

Xentity has focused on supporting communicating change and transformation results or roadmaps via story form. We have focused on new mediums tied with traditional mediums as a way to help better reach key stakeholders – citizens, legislators, business, government users, and partners. These simple stories can show and explain the value of complex programs products, services, solutions, and systems that powerpoints, whitepapers, or multiple conferences cannot achieve. As well, these mediums have helped convey messages, even during times of pressures to reduce travel.

This technique leverages Xentity’s investment since 2006 in the co-brand Flip Flop Production service which has an end-to-end video production lifecycle approach, quality, highly experienced staff and partners, and full studio capabilities. Xentity has made this investment due to a strong belief that architecture change or transformation efforts can succeed in implementing, but fail in conveying its message. Xentity is proud to support clients, such as the USGS, in creating these key messages in support of conveying the product and service value of their program.

Our Media Production Approach and Methods

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We put our families to sleep when we talk about our careers, projects, or programs. Yet, we find it fascinating. You need a way to brag about your change. The following demonstrates our method as to how we transform the mundane into an exciting, authentic message.

As an example, a TYPICALLY defined per video (e.g. for Commercial, mini-documentary, or 22 or 44 minute television solution):

Initiation: The Pitch

During this phase, the team will work with the customer to clearly define the goals, target audience and application of the video.  We outline any do’s and don’ts for communicating with the identified target audience and put together a project schedule spelling out the process along with client touch points.

  • The initial planning meeting will review “the  pitch”. This will cover capturing the vision, positioning, brand, goals, segmentation – theme, purpose,  audience, key messages, marketing plan use input,  approach (out of box, storyline, direct), mid-level product focus points, big idea (soft, epic, passive). The Pitch meeting is still key, and effective, and this process can help accelerate any internal client compliance requirements at this time as the process takes into account any agency requirements. This should always kickoff the raw script effort, or at least, should continue to be the pre-requisite before a raw script is written to assure the formula, thematic continuity, and balancing objectives is key.
  • This will also capture the role definitions of various production components – narration/voiceover (VO), internal presenters, testimonials, interviewers, various interviewer personas, spoken clips (no video). This will help guide a-roll production content versus b-roll and will help engage with Subject Matter Expert and material sourcing
  • Can vary from light support to storyboard to full screenplay
  • Collaborative Raw Script Preparation support for leads
  • Documented Script Advice
  • Production-Ready, Timed Screenplay
  • Various Screenplay Style support such as : 
    • Case Study Storytelling 
    • Scripted, Teleprompt News Shot Style and Green Screen
    • Loose Outline Interview Style and Natural Shot
    • Movie Production with multiple sets or on-site sets
    • Reality Show with on-site capture

Pre-Production: Setting the Logistics

  • Schedule of Production “shoot” logistics
  • Talent or Actor Sourcing
  • B-roll planning and layout
  • VoiceOver/Narrator Selection
  • Tailored Pre-Production Process Interview Guidance
  • Screen Script including script transitions, footage and sound mapping, and text for titles, captions and credits
  • Video Plan with full phase lifecycle
  • Video Schedule with full phase lifecycle

Production: Capturing the Story

Production will leverage a RED Epic Camera Professional High-Definition A-level Movie quality camera. This is the same equipment used in the making of “The Hobbit” for quality comparison. The videographer will have all lighting, sound, and movement equipment as well to assure highest quality level captured. 

  • Executed Production plan
  • A-Roll Capture for use in public-domain or client proprietary use

Post-Production: Putting the Story together

The studio uses high-end Apple equipment and software including Final Cut and After Effects. 

  • Public-domain Short HD Video with appropriate VoiceOver, Graphics, Slates, credits, bugs/logos, branding, and on-script/message.
  • Formats as defined in Pre-Production
  • Three Revision cycle with client on rough, Pre-Sound Engineering and VoiceOver), and final
  • Perform VoiceOver
  • Perform Sound Engineering 
  • Outbrief including documented lessons learned

Distribution Support

  • Can be light support or full distribution service capability
  • Metadata for video for publishing online
  • Small or Large DVD or BluRay Replication of Master Copies with variety of packaging (i.e. jewel cases, sleeves, disc labeling, etc.)
  • Raw Footage can be provided to client in working with client on what exactly will be needed to enable further post-production.