The Atlassian team at Carahsoft attended WEST 2019, the premier naval conference and exposition on the West Coast. Co-sponsored by the AFCEA, the conference brings together military and industry leaders for networking, discussion, and demonstrations of the latest technology.
We took the opportunity to meet with customers and ask about their priorities. We asked about their biggest challenges, what keeps them up at night, and what role they saw for software partners.
No Training? No Solution.
Agencies view technology as a way to solve problems. When they deploy a new product, they expect it to deliver on certain promises. It should make operations more secure, more efficient, more affordable or all three. When that doesn’t happen, the product isn’t a very good solution.
The fault isn’t necessarily with the product itself. A lot of software is more than powerful enough to support the mission, but only reaches its full potential when used by trained operators. Imagine giving someone an iPhone who has only ever used a landline and expecting them to figure it out on their own. Sure, they may know how to make calls, but what about the other features they could take advantage of?
On a more fundamental level, lack of training can cause problems if the software isn’t configured correctly in the first place. Software suppliers shouldn’t expect agency IT teams to be certified in every existing product.
For the best outcomes, every deployment should have some training built in. As one participant at the conference told us, teams cannot succeed without the correct training.
On the other hand, time invested in training allows end users to get familiar with the products, which leads to better adoption rates and a greater likelihood that they’ll take full advantage of the products’ potential.
Data Centers Are Indispensable
Downtime is a huge problem for data-driven organizations. They need reliable functionality and the ability to act quickly if there is a breakdown. Data centers have emerged as an answer to these dilemmas, especially in the contexts of disaster recovery and high availability.
For instance, when it comes to disaster recovery, organizations use data centers to create redundancy. If the main data center becomes unavailable, an alternate data center allows organizations to resume operations, typically from a different geographic location.
Data centers also play a growing role in high availability, which simply means ensuring specific levels of access and availability to an application. They rely on automated correction and failover to assure acceptable response times.
Collaboration Is Key
There was a time when collaboration was associated with lots of pointless meetings. It was seen as an impediment to getting things done. But that’s no longer the case. The benefits of collaboration, especially in the context of an agile workflow, are recognized and sought after by agency leaders.
Silos are the impediment to action these days, so agency leaders see an increased need for cross-team collaboration and visibility into projects and workflows. And that extends to their software needs. One participant described the ongoing need for products that work seamlessly together, so that internal software development teams and operations teams can be on the same page.
By getting everyone on the same page, teams are reducing backlogs and increasing productivity. They’re finding ways to consolidate redundant and mundane tasks, freeing staff to work on critical issues. More transparency and cross-pollination between stakeholders is leading to faster project completions.
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