Each year, as we begin planning for big events like GTEC, we have more and more conversations about trends we see in the field, and more importantly, the resulting potential and opportunities those trends represent.

This year I have had seen some truly inspirational leaders transform their organizations, which results from channeling innovation with the cloud. These leaders have streamlined tax revenue, improved service quality, and made a bigger impact in the public eye, all while increasing agility and scale. This means they have been able to focus more resources directly on the missions that make this country great.

As a technology professional, I see the potential of cloud technology, proven in the private sector by the success stories from imaginative startups and creative businesses. In over 20 years of experience working alongside government, I see the potential cloud can bring to tomorrow’s public sector leadership. There will be an ever-growing number of success stories that draw on such inspirations, leapfrog the typical innovation process, and drive mission-critical programs faster.

This is why — as a citizen – I want my government operating in the cloud.

Cutting edge trends lead to the cloud, and I want my government to keep pace.

Agencies are at a crossroads. Cloud technology has changed how private companies go to market, making business processes much simpler to manage. For example, our platform focuses efforts on user success, turning the next big technology transition into financial success.

This acts as a source of non-traditional inspiration that reveals a new path for government as they navigate today’s crossroads. Agencies no longer have to focus efforts on operational management because they have new, scalable, efficient ways to meet user-demands. Technology gives them an opportunity to leapfrog the typical innovation process, reset goals, and uplevel expectations as they transform into an agency that brings innovative, relevant leadership to the community they serve.

Cloud technology gives big government a way to stay competitive — and stay relevant — in an expanding world of big business. Government can apply these same best practices and turn the next big technology transition into mission success.   

Speaking of mission success, I want my government to be able to focus more of their efforts on that mission.

Cloud technology has not only changed operational models. It has also changed interactions with people, connecting users in entirely new ways that make the experience more meaningful to them, the customer. People have come to expect this same focus and attention as they interact as neighbors or friends...as well as when they engage as department heads, partners, or employees.

The General Services Administration (GSA) manages over 5,000 federal buildings across the country, housing over one million tenants. When one combines this degree of scale with their comprehensive mission to “deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people,” it is easy to understand why focus is critical to success. So GSA did just that — they zeroed in on their mission by starting with the end user.

They conducted a survey that revealed tenants were 11 percent more satisfied when they could identify an individual to contact about building maintenance needs than those who did not. And again, with an organization the size of GSA, 11 percent means 110,000+ people — bigger than the populations of cities such as Pickering, Ontario, Kamloops, BC and Victoriaville Quebec, according to the 2011 Census.

In order to deliver the best value in technology services to government and the American people, the GSA turned to the cloud. They built GSA Labs, their private appexchange on Salesforce that enables users to build apps as needed in order to communicate unique needs of a given tenant. This created a sense of agility across the organization and removed the disconnect that frequently exists between headquarters and field offices. To date, GSA Labs has over 100,000 posts and comments from 17,000 users across 1,500 active social communities.

Because these apps are cloud-based, they can easily be repurposed or tweaked, all from a central, shared service model. This has helped the organization realize a 90 percent-plus reduction in 5-year TCO per app, a 75 percent reduction in app dev time-to-value, and save over $5 million.

With cloud technology, the GSA was able to better focus on their mission, deliver a better experience, and save money coming from tax dollars by placing the user at the center of their innovative spirit.

Cloud technology offers inherent, next-generation security

GSA’s app project was successful because it was developed with a “user-first” mindset. The functionality, interface, and services delivered were all critical strategy components, turning the resulting app exchange into the path of least resistance.

Security is a multidimensional business imperative that demands consideration at every level, from security for applications to physical facilities and network security. In addition to the latest technologies, world-class security requires ongoing adherence to best-practice policies. To ensure this adherence, Salesforce continually seeks relevant third-party certification, including ISO 27001 and SSAE 16 SOC 1 audit (an examination and assessment of internal corporate controls, previously known as SAS 70 Type II).

Combining inherent security with this kind of user-friendly model makes security an enabler of the mission — not a barrier. By making protocol easier than starting a project from scratch, IT mitigates the number of requests to go rogue while also supplying services that are aligned to mission-critical success. Any application built on a compliant cloud can leverage those controls that have already been documented and validated.

With government in the cloud, security truly becomes user-first.

Learn more about the potential cloud brings to government missions at salesforce.com