Digital Transformation for government agencies is not without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges faced by agencies is how to overcome internal cultural resistance to what can be monumental changes in the technology environment.
One technology that can face cultural resistance is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI has the power to transform government by providing better citizen services, increasing operational efficiency, and supporting data-driven decision-making. For agencies to use AI to its full potential, they must first overhaul complex legacy solutions. This massive overhaul can be jarring for workers who have decades-long careers in public service working with these legacy systems.
In an interview, Brett Vaughan, Navy Chief AI Officer of the U.S. Navy, explained his experience trying to integrate AI into the Navy. “The vast majority of challenges we are facing today with technology transition are culture based,” Vaughan said. “Whether it’s how we build a budget in the pentagon or how we talk to congress, these topics are alien to a lot of the people pulling the levers there. Having those important conversations with the key decision makers and getting them to absorb, digest, and react appropriately is one of the challenges we are facing.”
Developing, managing, and deploying AI solutions is a constant effort. To take advantage of this technology, Vaughan helped establish several AI task forces to support the Navy’s commands. By dividing their AI efforts, the Navy empowered each task force to set individual priorities and provision the necessary resources.
Even though their missions vary, these task forces routinely sync to share data, lessons learned, catalogs, models, and algorithms. This practice ensures a shared approach to AI implementation, but also saves time and money by avoiding duplication and moves the Navy closer to their mission of building scalable AI models.
Nick Psaki, Principal Technologist at Pure Storage, praised Vaughan’s efforts to deploy AI in the Navy, despite the cultural resistance challenges he faced. “We saw this tremendous explosion in the variety, applicability, and development of AI capabilities across the Navy,” Psaki said. “The Navy launched into this with tremendous emphasis on creating the capacity for AI development to flourish.”
The Navy now uses AI to further its logistics, operations, supply and demand, and medical capabilities. Vaughan aims to have AI fully embedded as a core capability in the Navy by 2025.
“I want AI to eventually be an organic consideration that’s not looked at as something special, but rather a tool we take advantage of daily,” Vaughan said. “While we have thousands of AI related efforts going on, unless we can attack and form up the digital fabric that underpins all that capability, our efforts will be sub-optimized. The challenge for us is getting digital and hitting that core fabric that you really need to drive impactful AI.”
Technologies like AI are designed to transform organizations. By aligning its AI efforts to the key channels that drive the Navy’s mission, Vaughan was able to combat the cultural resistance challenges faced by many government agencies.
Learn more about deploying high-performance, scalable AI in government agencies here.