Reviewing Web trends
- By Rich Kellett
- May 31, 2000
Review time is upon us, and our Webmaster activities have been picked for
executive management review. Fortunately, the big near-term milestones have
been met, and we actually have the opportunity to think.
Here are some key issues and trends to think about:
With momentum building for electronic government, it is clear that increased
emphasis is going to be placed on virtual government. I recommend that Webmasters
become more formally involved in the activities of the President's Management
Council, the CIO Council, the Procurement Executive Council, the CFO Council
and the Federal Web Business Council/Forum.
The councils, Congress and the Office of Management and Budget are wading
into the e-government issues and stepping up to the leadership issues involved
in these areas. Their activities will define the new directions for the
Wireless will drive World Wide Web operations to an around-the-clock
schedule as the public grows to expect 24-hour, seven-days-a-week availability
of online services. Many agency Web operations are still informal in nature,
so agencies must "bite the budget bullet" and make the organizational commitment
necessary for 24/7 operations before taking on wireless.
The next decision will be to choose the remote platform. There will
be a collision between palm devices and laptops as they compete for the
mobile market. Laptops will get smaller and palm devices will increase in
In addition, agencies must migrate to database-driven Web sites to deliver
products and services. Information linked together through Web pages can
take an agency only so far. To move into the realm of activity implied by
the Government Paperwork Elimination Act requires the implementation of
databases for driving Web pages and interactions with the public. The public
also will expect search engines, chat rooms, dynamic content, free e-mail
and other features.
Agencies have moved from having a Web hero, to Web teams, and now to
Web organizations. Therefore, it is important that Web managers become general
business managers. Web managers need to develop working principles in leadership,
culture, architectures, business, management, relationships in a virtual
world, technology and policies. This taxonomy will help organize the key
principles for conducting business over the Web.
Also, it is time that Web managers become warranted contracting officers
as part of their program duties for managing Web sites. This is not a stretch.
Anyone who has a government credit card already is a warranted contracting
officer up to the limits of the credit card. Personal liability for contracting
actions will create the balance necessary to avoid conflicts of interest,
while the combination of contracting and program management will allow programs
to move forward at Internet speed.
Accessibility, privacy and security are the key policy issues this year.
There is an increased awareness that these issues are organizationwide because
the solutions require people, technology and training at all levels and
across multiple disciplines. Carnegie Mellon's Capability Maturity Model
provides a framework for thinking about how to develop organizations that
can repeatedly deliver products and services in a virtual world. Solving
these issues requires the development of "mature" Web organizations, not
just plugging a hole.
Momentum also is building to create a model public use policy that defines
appropriate and inappropriate activities on federal Web sites. As Web sites
become more participatory, fairness in blocking inappropriate activities
is necessary. It also is important to inform people as to the formalities
involved in transacting business on federal Web sites. Fraud or false statements
could lead to civil or criminal liability.
The Nature of Our Work
Our work life will never be the same because technology enables us to
interact with more people than ever before. For example, my immediate community
includes 2,059 e-mail names from at least 1,094 organizations.
In addition, marketing, networking and research activities have converged
through our Web sites. This convergence makes participatory Web sites so
— Kellett is founder of the Federal Web Business Council, co-chairman of
the Federal Webmasters Forum and director of GSA's Emerging IT Policies