How much is that technology in the window?

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Evidently, federal IT managers spend a lot of time window-shopping. They like to look at the latest trends in technology, but they aren't always quick to adopt.

In a recent GCN telephone survey of federal IT managers, more than half said it was important to their agency's mission to at least evaluate the latest technologies. Less than a third, however, said it was important to adopt new mission-enhancing technologies.

For example, only a quarter of managers surveyed said their agency had incorporated wireless access for remote computing into its IT environment. Fewer still'22 percent'were using WiFi in their agency's IT environment.

Federal IT managers are definitely open to at least the idea of new technologies. More than two-thirds of respondents said that grid or peer-to-peer computing'in which CPU power is har- nessed by sharing resources across a network'could be useful in a government IT environment. But 42 percent said their agency has yet to consider implementing grid computing as compared with the 41 percent who said their agencies have evaluated the technology.

Web services and Extensible Markup Language, however, are being more warmly embraced by feds. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said their agency is expanding its use of Web services and XML, which also top the list of new technologies that will have the most impact in the next three years. Federal managers also have high hopes for voice over IP, with 22 percent ranking it as the technology most likely to have the greatest impact.

When it comes to what they think are the most useful technologies, federal IT managers say they like them small, smart and handheld. Seventeen percent found personal digital assistants and smart phones most useful, followed by VOIP at 14 percent, and Web services and XML at 13 percent.

And many of the surveyed managers are worried about security. Forty-five percent ranked it as the technology area most in need of improvement. Wireless networking ranked second, with 29 percent saying it could most use improvement.

Given the chance to lead their agency, 46 percent of surveyed feds would forgo the latest bells and whistles and issue every employee a notebook PC.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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