Emerging Business Intelligence Opportunity – Mobilizing the Federal Workforce
Originally published March 23, 2010
While it may seem that business intelligence (BI) already permeates almost every corner of the business environment, new applications continue to emerge. A case in point, and the focus of this article, is the move to “mobilize” the Federal workforce and redefine where it does its work. At the same time, workforce and workplace mobilization (W2M) will create significant new opportunities for BI providers.
Key DriversThe root motivation for W2M is a fundamental transformation now taking place in the Federal workforce as well as the expanded expectations and requirements it must satisfy. Key drivers of this change include (but are not limited to):
ImplicationsResponding to the drivers identified above will require some very fundamental changes in the Federal workforces and their workplaces. And to succeed, these efforts must be well planned and their execution well managed. To some observers, including the authors, nothing short of a transformation to “mobilized” workforces and workplaces is required. Key required elements of this transformation strategy include:
OPM announced a new telework policy in April. In it, there is recognition that strong performance metrics appropriate for individual agencies must be set and that they must pay attention to training employees in using technology. OPM also created a council of telework program managers to set government-wide standards.
OPM acknowledges, of course, that not all jobs are candidates for telecommuting, and that success in the initiative is going to require changing a current culture of skepticism among Federal middle-level managers.
GSA has also taken a leadership role in driving telework and wants to lead by example. In 2008, the agency implemented an aggressive initiative using diverse communications mechanisms to disseminate the benefits of telework. Among the benefits cited: reduced energy use, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, less traffic, less U.S. dependence on foreign oil, increased worker productivity and savings for American taxpayers. GSA cites that 43% of its employees already work off site, and it has set an objective to have 50% of its eligible employees telecommuting by the end of 2010.
Even Congress is theoretically committed to driving AWA and telework. In fact, 2009 saw a fair amount of legislative activity toward the expansion of telework for the Federal workforce.
But despite these activities and pronouncements, the Federal government lags far behind private sector employers in terms of eligible employee participation, which is at 8% (according to the OPM 2008 Annual Report on Telework) vs. 30% for typical private sector employers. And of the actual Federal AWA/TW programs initiated, many have not reached their true potential as they were:
The Government’s OpportunityRegardless of these past Federal obstacles and less than stellar results, the potential impact of fully backed, well planned and resourced W2M strategy (including AWA, telework and actives real estate management elements) on the Federal workforce challenges outlined above is huge. And private sector adoption of similar strategies has already proved these benefits, as shown by the experience of IBM.
IBM initiated its “Mobility” (combining AWA/TE and real estate management) strategy in 1995. It now boasts that “40% of its 386,000+ global employees do not have a traditional offices and many tens of thousands more work outside their offices at least some of the time. Since 1995, IBM’s owned and leased office space has been reduced by 78 million square feet; 58 million square feet were sold at a gain of $1.9B; sublease income exceeds $1B; and, in the U.S. alone, annual savings amount to $100M.” (See “Working Outside the Box: A Study of the Growing Momentum in Telework,” Institute for Electronic Government, IBM Corporation, January 21, 2009.)
That same document is quick to point out that as impressive as IBM’s numbers might be, they are a pittance when compared to what might be achieved by the Federal government, arguably the largest employer and landowner in the world with almost 2 million civilian employees working in over 3 billion square feet of office space owned or leased in approximately half a million buildings. Think what real cost savings might be achieved just in real estate and utilities. Furthermore, what might the impact be in traffic reduction, carbon emissions and energy consumption? IBM alone estimates that “In 2007, in its U.S. operations alone, its “Mobility” program conserved more than 5 million gallons of fuel and avoided more than 450,000 tons of CO2 emissions.” Finally, in its “shared” office facilities, IBM went from a ratio of office space to employee of 1:1 in the early 1990s to 8:1 in 2009 to as much as 15:1 in certain facilities as a result of its Mobility strategy.
The Business intelligence OpportunityTo this point, we have made little to no mention of business intelligence (BI) in the new workforce/ workplace model. But while the new W2M environment is emerging, the old maxim to “measure and manage” will need to be addressed in a variety of ways including:
Bottom LineIn some ways, the Federal workforce’s nascent move W2M is similar to retail’s moving from pure “bricks and mortar” facilities to a mix of physical and virtual online marketplaces. This article has identified and described the opportunities similar changes will create both for Federal agencies as well as the vendor partners who assist them in making this transformation.
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