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Toni Townes-Whitley, President of U.S. Regulated Industries at Microsoft, provides guidance for agencies about what to consider strategically this fiscal year in light of the pandemic

Some agencies are telling employees to return to the office soon, while others are preparing for long-term or indefinite remote work. As the new fiscal year is underway, agencies are facing decisions about how to think ahead.

“Strategically I think we all understand that there will be some form of hybrid workplace,” Toni Townes-Whitley, President of U.S. Regulated Industries at Microsoft, told “Government Matters” Tuesday. She said agencies should think about how they will navigate the hybrid cloud environment securely and that there will have to be “mindset shifts” from security to resiliency.

A theme many across government have been talking about is a change in some terminology, such as the use of “digital modernization” instead of “IT modernization.” Townes-Whitley said this speaks to an increased focus on providing digital services.

Another shift happening is the increased interest in automation. Using artificial intelligence with automation is a trend Townes-Whitley pointed out has also increased during the pandemic. She cited the examples of the use of bot technology in medical intervention at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Townes-Whitley also referenced continuity of operations and continuity of mission as concepts that have been of critical importance throughout the COVID-19 crisis. She said federal agencies are assessing their technological capabilities to make sure they are being used, and to be able to add additional digital capabilities specific to each agency.

“I think, going forward, we’re going to see not only a hybrid workplace, not only a hybrid cloud environment, but a new mindset towards the role that technology is playing to drive mission,” she said.

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