These are my remarks from the MeriTalk Innovation Nation 2010 Conference, "Edge Warrior" Panel today. I was the Moderator and this was my introduction to the discussion by the panelists on Edge Computing.
As I thought about the concept of edge computing an image came to my mind—of a cliff—, representing the limits of what is possible today. Then the cliff started to expand--to-grow in size- -with the edge constantly being pushed further out. This is a way to think about the future of technology. We want to be "leading edge,” and some may even want to be “bleeding edge, but we certainly don’t want to go “over-the-edge, so we need to expand and create new opportunities in our organizations.
Both the public and the private sectors are pushing into new frontiers in a variety of innovative technologies that take us to the edge, everywhere. We’re hearing about many of them today at the conference – cloud computing, social computing, mobile computing, green computing and more. And it’s exciting to think about what we can accomplish if we put promising new technologies to work for the government.
But, we must be careful not to fall into one of two extremes, either jumping in prematurely and making costly mistakes, or avoiding and resisting change in favor of the “tried and true” or what I would call the perpetual status quo and never growing to our true potential as individuals, agencies, and a nation.
To me, true leaders don’t fall into either extreme, but rather they brings both sides together to find a balanced approach to innovation, growth, change, and yes, even some elements of managed risk. In any organization, technology leadership is not about leading employees to the edge of the computing cliff, but rather about pushing out the edge so that their capabilities are constantly increasing, while the risks are also constantly being mitigated.
In fact, technology leadership is not very far from the vision that we saw on the show, Star Trek. The show pushed the boundaries of what was possible—going where no one had gone before, but always striving to keep the ship intact and the crew safe.
While we are the stewards to keep our agencies secure to serve the public, we must also acknowledge that we live in a dynamic, competitive, rapidly changing, and increasingly global environment and we cannot afford to stand still while others press ahead. To meet the challenges that face us, we must constantly seek out better ways of executing our mission, and new technologies are critically important in helping us to do this in all directions and at all the edges.
Finally, this is especially true in today’s world, when agency computing is no longer restricted to our brick and mortar office buildings but rather is ubiquitous. From the corner Starbucks to the most remote regions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, our customers demand to be productive everywhere, to carry out their mission.