Ms. Cureton delivered a lively and engaging presentation on how she finds trailblazing through federal IT. As the CIO of NASA, she is responsible for leading their strategic IT efforts through a time of change. A paradigm shift is happening in the way NASA approaches the space program, but also their IT. As evidence, they have powered down their last mainframe computer at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
She discussed what it was like to be a trailblazer in the federal government and how it is pushing her to change the way she manages IT. She likened what she called the “Five Steps of Trailblazing” (literally knocking down trees and creating paths through the wilderness) to her approach to creating and curating a strong enterprise infrastructure. This was a great presentation that brought trailblazing lessons from Wikihow directly to the IT world.
Ms. Cureton is the second federal CIO whom I’ve heard in as many weeks describe the need to fail fast and the need to cut underperforming programs. Failing (faster) forces innovation, because solutions must be found. Cutting underperforming programs is something the federal government has had contractual difficulties with in the past – but it seems we may be past that now. She mentioned the need for enterprise architecture to be more than just checking the box (and thousands of pages) but to be a living, breathing document that leads to good practices.
When questioned by the crowd, she asked that industry deliver capabilities with real built in security – not just bolt them on as they are used. When asked if big data were a buzz word or a megatrend, she believes it is becoming a buzz word, because everyone is rushing to redefine what they currently do to fit into that description. Plus there is the ubiquity of big data (it is just the size of the data that is growing – exponentially in fact).
Linda Cureton is one of the visionaries in federal IT. We look forward to continuing to learn from her and really appreciated hearing from her at this event.
- NASA Unplugs Its Last Mainframe (science.slashdot.org)
- End of an era: NASA shuts down its last mainframe (news.cnet.com)
- NASA Shuts Down Its Last Mainframe Computer (universetoday.com)
- NASA CIO: You Know You’re a Geek If… (pcworld.com)