Aim to Deliver Better Services to Citizens in an Affordable Way
As a Senior Vice President at Salesforce, Rob Stein runs North America's public sector business, including federal and local state and provincial governments in U.S. and Canada. He started his career by doing analysis work and then evolved to some of the major IT providers for our government customers. Rob is focused on agencies and organizations that deliver service to citizens a nd t hose t hat s erve a nd p rotect u s. H e has more than 30 years of experience supporting U.S. Public Sector customers, focusing on high technology solutions that help customers achieve their missions.
What are some of the biggest trends or pain points you see and help your customers address?
For the past two and a half years, our government clients have done amazing things throughout the pandemic. Their work set the bar for expectations going forward. The pain point now is how agencies deliver better services and how they do it affordably. Also important is how they continue to build trust with citizens and their customers. It is no small feat for government agencies to maintain the complex, decentralized systems that have grown up while placing the citizen, the war fighter, and the employee, at the center of how they innovate.
Which are some of the technological trends which excite you when it comes to Digital Transformation in the Cloud for the Public Sector?
People have moved away from multi-year projects. That is the main trend. What matters now is minimally viable products that fulfill the vision of leadership. People no longer care about 100% on Day 1. Instead, agencies are more concerned with locking down the basic requirements upfront--with agile development delivering incremental wins.
The pain point now is how agencies deliver better services and how they do it affordably
Time-to-value is the new key to success. We are seeing this mindset across the board, from national agencies to state and local. A great example is how the Department of Commerce built a grants system in four months to get the money from the infrastructure bill out to states so they could expand broadband access to rural communities. What used to take years is now taking months, and with the grants system, they were able to launch version two a month later.
What is the fastest path to digital transformation?
There is no shortcut to digital transformation. It comes down to senior leadership having the courage to change and doing what they think is right to serve customers and their mission. In my experience, that courage will pay off, and other people will be attracted to your incremental wins, whether in the same agency or with peers at different agencies. The first step, though, is RESIST: Resist the multi-year projects and big budgets; resist the need to have everything perfect out of the gate.
What keeps you up at night?
I used to work with a gentleman named Tom Mendoza at a previous company. Whenever someone asked him that question, he would always turn it around. Instead of "What keeps you up at night?" he would say, "What gets you up in the morning?" That's what I think about it. I think about the impact we can make on the mission. I think about the citizens we can serve. I think about the lives we can save. I think about the employees that want to do government service because the agency is digitized, and they get to do things at their job the same way they do in their life.
Describe what your journey looks like from here. What advice would you offer peers at other organizations?
Software-as-a-service should be a key focus. The pre-built capabilities and the ease of configuring instead of coding are the efficiencies that help you get to the quick wins we have been talking about. Centers of Excellence are important for governance, but this kind of Change Management gets you started in the right direction. It comes down to leveraging the right pre-built platform like Salesforce, MuleSoft, Tableau, or Slack and then picking the right service provider or integrator that helps you launch that minimum viable product