Peraton’s View: Air Force EITaaS Success Depends on User Experience

How often do computer users put off a software upgrade? Refuse to buy the latest laptop? Or only use 10-20 percent of their smartphone’s capabilities? There always will be laggards because humans are habitual by nature, often choosing to use familiar tools and techniques instead of investing time and effort learning new and better ways of working.

But there is cost of slow adoption of technology, and for the U.S. Air Force this can be a risk to its mission and airmen. An increasingly complex mission landscape calls for constant adoption, rethinking and design of more effective ways to perform. This means overcoming the challenge of technology adoption in order to benefit from it.

The Air Force’s Enterprise IT as a service (EITaaS) program is a perfect example of how better use of technology can be achieved. EITaaS offers several major advantages to the Air Force, providing the capabilities necessary to improve IT operations and processes, consolidating IT to lower costs and solving many of the service’s challenges by managing IT and sharing data. The program can help leadership achieve these objectives and its vision of a secure, digital infrastructure by incorporating user experience (UX) features that foster the always-difficult changes in human behavior.

Meeting the Mission with a Better UX

While it’s important to understand everything that affects usage, below are high-priority UX features around which the Air Force can construct EITaaS.

Staff participation in Bring Your Own Approved Device (BYOAD) programs allow Air Force personnel to use their preferred mobile devices to access networks, as long as they meet Department of Defense (DOD) policies. Users favor them because they are familiar to operate, so they avoid trying to work on government-issued devices. BYOAD also improves speed, productivity and morale, while minimizing the learning curve for new platforms or tools.

Automation of Time-intensive Activities

For IT teams, EITaaS will offer a better UX because it will reduce time spent on routine functions. With server-like monitoring and management of devices across the organization, the EITaaS solution will optimize performance for virtualization and provide non-invasive compliance checks. It will include more automation of processes so that problems are diagnosed and fixed, and unused hardware and software gets deactivated without human intervention.

The end result is a better UX across the board with favorable analytics, fewer calls to the service desk and more focus by IT teams on longer-term analysis and problem solving.

The Power of Change Management

Part of the psychology of why humans find change difficult is because they are not always measured by it. Instead, usual metrics cover how well a job gets done, whether it was completed on time or under budget. Familiar tools and processes allow users to schedule their time to accomplish what’s needed, whereas new systems present too many unknowns.

Under EITaaS, this will be different because users will have BYOAD and their engagement will be evident. When training is needed, there are multiple ways to engage. First-time users will need to take online tutorials, video-based classes or in-person events to understand policies, best practices and the need for minimizing risk. As new technologies get introduced and security conditions evolve, refreshers will reinforce the importance of avoiding complacency with devices and maintaining the right UX.

In addition, change management initiatives for communications, coaching and feedback will help users embrace the technology that is so crucial to job performance, satisfaction, staff retention and mission success.

EITaaS can become a model for how the military consumes IT. With its emphasis on UX, the Air Force will have a durable feature for continuous improvement necessary in the multidomain battlespace. Without the distraction of managing IT in the traditional way, the service can project appropriate power and focus on critical national security goals.