Jan 27 2014

Colorado Adopts Disruptive Support with Help from Google Apps

Cloud technologies change the way state IT serves users.

IT support is moving from a reactive model to a proactive one in which clients select their own solutions for their technology needs. In Colorado, we've embraced disruptive support to save money and do things differently.

Agencies no longer need to set up a web conferencing service, for example — they can opt for Google Hangouts instead. Staffers no longer need the IT department to spin up a new server or set up a website; they simply do it themselves. It's akin to teaching someone to fish instead of giving him a meal.

Disruptive support centers around education, enablement and empowerment. Our journey has compelled us to stop building and buying. Instead, we compound, disrupt and share.

To the Cloud for Productivity

In 2012, Colorado migrated from 15 disparate email systems to the cloud-based Google Apps for Government platform. When it comes to cloud computing, the Colorado Governor's Office of Information Technology was (and largely still is) a traditional IT shop working diligently to keep the lights on.

Colorado Google Apps

With our migration to Google, we decided to focus on what's closest to all of us: email, calendaring and contacts. This marked the start of our journey to disruptive support, one that's simultaneously challenging and thrilling.

Supporting government agencies with a higher calling, such as food, water, safety, children and the solvency of the state, makes one fully realize the impact of implementing disruptive technologies in supporting the missions of these agencies and the services they provide to residents.

As agencies became accustomed to the new cloud-based email and calendaring, they adopted groups, sites, hangouts and applications. Very quickly, a new paradigm was created. IT research and development are now being done at the line level by nontechnical program staff, taking that role out of IT's hands.

A New Digital Frontier

Employees are actively pushing the frontiers of systems even before they're fully rolled out. Once we deployed Google apps, we had to shift our support model. We needed a more academic, university-like model that emphasized collaboration, information sharing, enablement and empowerment. We sought to help state employees to move from acceptance to adoption. Disruptive support was born.

We searched for someone to lead this new effort and found Brandon Williams, a public information officer at the Department of Public Health and Environment. He now has two permanent staff members and a rotating group of interns to support 26,000 users and make Google successful at the state level.

Our employees are highly adaptable, so we needed to find the right tools to help them embrace the cloud apps — think short YouTube videos, fact sheets and basic tips and tricks. We also made in-person presentations to some groups and built no-frills tools pages, simply tailoring training to the employee base.

Technological change doesn't rest, so IT needs to adapt or be left behind.

Technological change doesn't rest, so IT needs to adapt or be left behind. Disruptive support presents an organic, amazing journey. If you embrace it, lean into it and take on the challenge, technology will allow your customers to flourish. We're witnessing that transformation right now in Colorado, and it's a beautiful sight.

<p>Bruce Stanfield/iStock/Thinkstock</p>

More On