DOD’s chief experience officer sees Academy benchmarks in improving IT for Airmen, Guardians

  • Published
  • By Ray Bowden
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – A top technology official at the Air Force Academy said the school is an “incubator of IT capabilities” that could benefit the entire Air Force and Space Force in using and managing its IT infrastructure.

“We’re a fully operational IT ecosystem, which provides the two services with new ideas on how to employ and manage mobile device technologies and cloud-hosted resources,” said the Academy’s chief technology officer, Mike Andrews.

Andrews, and his boss, Col. Harold Hoang, the Academy’s communications and information director and chief information officer, develop and implement the installation’s $150 million IT infrastructure. Department of the Air Force Chief Experience Officer Colt Whittall, a senior government executive, said their work presents “new opportunities” for the Air Force and Space Force to explore.

Whittall visited with Andrews and Hoang late last month to look at the Academy’s digital environment and examine how Hoang and his staff manage the infrastructure to fit the specialized needs of the Academy.

“We are piloting cloud device management across the Air Force, and I wanted to learn about the Academy experience to best leverage this capability more broadly,” he said.

Whittall works to improve human-computer interaction or user experience – how to enhance user effectiveness when using IT systems, web applications and software.

“The Academy’s needs represent where the broader Air Force and Space Force need to go, including remote user, laptop and personal device support,” he said.

Whitthall, Hoang and Andrews discussed the potential the Academy offers in setting the bar for IT infrastructure and user experience across the department by using digital experience monitoring to improve performance and user experience.

“We talked about deploying this on a sample of Academy computers to track and compare performance ‘apples to apples’ across our different software images,” Whittall said. “This helps IT professionals identify opportunities to improve service levels to our customers and users.”

Andrews said Whittall, the first chief experience officer in the Defense Department and one of few in government circles, is transforming every Airman and Guardian’s user experience.

“His systematic approach to measuring user experience is critical to our modernization and enterprise-as-a-service effort because it provides a baseline for improvement and allows systems to provide quantitative feedback on the user experience,” he said.

Hoang said providing cadets, faculty and staff the most modern and secure tools is critical in facilitating the Academy’s mission of developing leaders of character for the Air Force and Space Force.

“We’re all proud that Mr. Whittall sees the inroads we’ve made as a benchmark in improving the user experience for all Airmen and Guardians,” he said.