I recently wrote about how we used data science to structure the kickoff of TechAmerica’s research on the convergence of SMAC in the public sector. Since then I’ve collaborated with experts in 24 companies and engaged in open conversations about the entirely new world emerging at the nexus of social, mobile, analytics and cloud. The final report is now published and available for download.
I expected the final report to contain insights into the ways convergence is forcing us to re-imagine the role of government, the meaning of national security, and our entire approach to intelligence collection — and it does. But it also contains things I didn’t expect. Here are the top 4 surprising things I learned from participating in this research.
1. Convergence Is Not a Thing
I expected the convergence of SMAC to be something I could point to — a hybrid technology or some kind of new, exotic platform. What we found, instead, is that it is much more useful to think of convergence as an event. It happens when individuals use SMAC technologies to communicate, cooperate and solve big problems. Chapter 1 of the report explains how to recognize convergence and why it has the potential to make us a much smarter nation.
2. Tweets and Posts Are Not Just for Fun
SMAC technologies are reshaping the way we make connections and the way we do business. I expected convergence to have some impact on U.S. relations with the rest of the world, but I was surprised to find out how extensive that impact is likely to be. Convergence won’t just enhance existing methods of international relationships, it will create a new form of world power based on large-scale collaboration among individual citizens. Chapter 2 describes why a country’s power to influence will be determined by the strength of publicly accessible, informal networks.
3. The SMAC-Savvy Workforce Is Not (Just) about Millennials
Taking advantage of convergence requires a different kind of workforce. I assumed that building a SMAC-savvy workforce meant attracting and retaining talented millennials. We found out, instead, that the workforce of the future was less about demographics and more about work habits and flexibility. The most valuable workers will be those with a high capacity for non-routine problem solving, dealing with ambiguity, and exercising autonomy. In Chapter 6, we describe the qualities of these digital knowledge workers and HR best practices for attracting and retaining them.
4. No One Knows Exactly How to Fix Government Procurement
Many of the current government procurement practices aren’t flexible enough to take advantage of the agility that converged technologies could allow. But what kinds of new procurement policies should the government adopt? I expected there to be an expert somewhere with the answer. But, to my surprise, the best we could create were the qualities of the practices needed. Chapter 7 describes the kinds of government procurement practices and policies that will thrive in the world of convergence. As for the actual practices — I guess we’ll have to figure those out as we go.
Which brings me to my main point. The full report contains much more than I can cover here, but it’s not the final word on the subject. Instead, this research is a frame for new, open conversations about the convergence of SMAC and what it will mean to the world, our nation, and its citizens. Have an opinion on the subject? Find me on LinkedIn or Twitter (@jerryaoverton), or reach out to TechAmerica and add your voice to the discussion.
Jerry Overton is head of advanced analytics research in CSC’s ResearchNetwork and founder of CSC’s FutureTense competency, which includes the Predictive Modeling Research Group, Advanced Analytics Lab and Predictive Modeling School. Connect with him on Twitter.