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For the second year in a row Federal CIOs identified information security as their top challenge in the 2008 Information Technology Association of America's annual survey. In this survey, entitled Transforming I.T. to Support the Mission, Federal CIOs identified seven key facets of the information security challenges they face every day. The facets are: nature of threats, organization and culture, government wide coordination, operational control, technology, speed of change and compliance.
Today, as threats to our nation's infrastructure increase, so does our dependence on a secure infrastructure. While at the same time, fluctuations in the supply and demand for oil and gas is causing GSA as well as other Federal agencies to accelerate telework adoption. Telework and its associated work patterns and proliferation of devices means our infrastructure is becoming more decentralized. As I look out into the future, I often wonder whether the single factor and multifactor authentication mechanisms we use today are enough to ensure a secure infrastructure without losing productivity. So, how do we ensure a secure infrastructure while faced with equally important public policy, agency mission and information resource management issues?
The good news is that the private sector continues to innovate in areas that will allow us to increase security in a decentralized infrastructure while maintaining productivity. The Usable Security program at the Palo Alto Research Center is an example of the type of innovation taking place in the private sector. In its report entitled In Search of Usable Security, Five Lessons from the Field the PARC team was able to implement a private key infrastructure (PKI) with high marks for usability and user satisfaction that reduced the time to by a factor of two.
I'm optimistic that ongoing work in the private sector and at organizations like PARC can help Federal CIOs address our security challenges so we can increase security while maintaining productivity in tomorrow's decentralized infrastructure.
That's right, it's football season, but I'm not going to talk about football!
Following on TechCrunch50 in San Francisco, the posse's going south to Texas, my home state. Austin in a hot-bed of technology innovation and TechCrunch scheduled a meet-up with Austin Ventures on September 25, 2008 in conjunction with the Austin City Limits Music Festival. A meet-up is a grass-roots convergence of technologists and investors with demonstrations, conversation, great food and great music.
If you read my recent post called Innovation Pipelines and the Federal Supply Chain, you know that despite the current state of the capital markets the venture capital community continues to make strong investments in early stage funding of 2.0 startups.
Austin, known by some as the state capital of Texas is also know by it's official slogan as "The Live Music Capital of the World." But most importantly, the economy in Austin includes a vibrant technology sector fueled by graduates from local universities like the University of Texas. And with venture capital investments in information technology, semiconductor, biotechnology and the clean energy industry, Texas Tech means much more than football.
Austin Ventures manages a 3 billion dollar portfolio across nine funds, primarily in venture capital funding and growth equity.The event will be held at Michael Ault's Pangea Austin, an elite international lounge with locations in New York, London, Cabo, Mexico and Marbella, Spain. Tickets are currently sold out, but you can follow Austin Ventures on Twitter or your can just fanAustin City Limits on Facebook.
All of the proceeds from the meet-up will benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation, an organization uniting people to fight cancer – believing that unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything.
One of my favorite roles as a CIO is sharing information about the great innovations currently taking place in the private sector and discussing how these innovations will enhance the Federal supply chain. Right now there's still very strong early stage venture capital funding for 2.0 startups. And some of these startups will become small business success stories of the Federal supply chain.
2.0 innovation represents more than a new set of technologies, it represents a change in the way we work together. This year's TechCrunch50 was a blockbuster event. 900 startups from forty nine countries were narrowed to fifty finalists. Finalists launched new products center stage at the San Francisco Design Center. Semifinalists presented from the DemoPit. A panel of experts composed of notable CEOs as well as successful angel and venture capital investors included Marc Andressen, co-founder of Netscape and now Ning; Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com; Roelof Bartha, Partner at Sequoia Capital, and many many more. Experts judge the demonstrations live and give immediate feedback. It's a bit like American Idol for 2.0 startups, but even better ! The top demonstration gets $50k cash, but that underestimates what's at stake. In addition to Sequoia Capital, this year conference partners included the Mayfield Fund, Clearstone Venture Partners, Charles River Ventures and Fenwick & West.
Jason Calcanis, a conference organizer, reported in April that last year, the TechCrunch40 generated $143m in venture funding. But that was recently eclipsed by Microsoft's $200m acquisition of PowerSet, a semantic search engine. Think of TechCrunch and early stage capital markets as an innovation pipeline for the Federal Supply Chain. The conference just ended and there's plenty of information available on the 50 finalists and the demopit companies !
The last time I put gas in my car, I realized how much the scarcity of the world's non-renewable resources is shaping our lives. Ouch!
Whether it's the price of gasoline itself, or the effect of energy costs on food and electricity we consume at home and at work, we're all feeling the effect of rising prices. And it looks like this trend will continue.
In response to the scarcity of non-renewable resources, our nation's energy policy identifies technology as one response to our challenge to provide reliable, affordable and environmentally sound energy for America's future.
Today, the General Services Administration's fourteen telework centers, located in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, comprise a response to that challenge. By eliminating one or possibly two days of an employee's commute in the DC metro area, we can reduce both gas consumption and commute times.
Tomorrow, in a world where we telecommute regularly, what technologies can we use to still work together effectively as teams?
Well, we don't know yet, but there are technologies on the horizon that look promising. And teleworking in virtual worlds is one of them.
It's fair to say the more we telework, the more we'll teleconference, at least in the near term. But when I teleconference, I'm always aware that 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. So how do we replace the body language that's so important to communicate effectively when we're in a virtual world?
Our early work in virtual worlds here in my office has shown that it's possible for avatars to exhibit most of the gestures that we normally exhibit when we're in face-to-face meetings: eyes closed, raised eyebrows, yawns, shouts and whispers are available by default in popular virtual worlds like SecondLife. As we worked with avatars—3-D figures that represent people online—we learned that they exhibit body language only by intent. In real life, body language is mostly unconscious.
As we continue to examine teleworking in virtual worlds, we'll look more closely at what it takes for a team to mature to the point where its members are confident enough to display the same emotions in a virtual world by intent that they would express naturally with body language. That’s when telecommuting in virtual worlds will effectively substitute for face-to-face team meetings.