Can AI Help Us Survive the Inevitable Federal Government Pension Tsunami?

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For many years, experts have predicted a tsunami of federal employees retiring as more baby boomers reach pension eligibility. Although the tidal wave has been slow to materialize, it still seems inevitable. In fact, the delay can only worsen the eventual impact, as the total number of employees of retirement age who have not retired but who could do so at any time is growing.
The problem
A massive exodus of…

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For many years, experts have predicted a tsunami of federal employees retiring as more baby boomers reach pension eligibility. Although the tidal wave has been slow to materialize, it still seems inevitable. In fact, the delay can only worsen the eventual impact, as the total number of employees of retirement age who have not retired but who could do so at any time is growing.

The problem

A mass exodus of retired experienced federal employees could lead to what some have called a “brain drain” – a lack of skilled and qualified federal employees to continue the essential work of managing the nation’s government and infrastructure.

This is of particular concern for technical roles such as IT administrators. There is a well-known shortage of technical talent, also known as the IT skills gap. In fact, recent projections suggest there will be a global shortage of 85 million tech workers by 2030, with the United States alone missing 6 million.

In most cases, federal agencies will not see their entire IT departments wiped out. After all, the average age of US tech professionals is 40 (46 for IT managers), but with a quarter of US IT professionals and one in five IT managers aged 55 or over, Federal agencies will certainly be affected.

This problem is compounded by two other key trends:

  • Multi-cloud: The benefits of cloud computing are well known and federal IT departments have been commendably quick to take advantage of them, but many agencies assumed that moving to the cloud meant they were buying an outcome, when they were simply buying an infrastructure. This means that the hardware was no longer theirs to manage, but the ultimate responsibility for their data was theirs, and now with the proliferation of multi-cloud infrastructure, that data is spread across an extremely complex data estate with dozens of workloads in multiple public cloud environments, all with disparate management tools.
  • Ransomware: A 21st century digital scourge that’s spreading faster than ever, ransomware is a federal IT professional’s worst nightmare. According to some estimates, there were over 623 million total ransomware attacks last year.

The federal government is not sitting idly by waiting for this “brain drain” to happen. For example, the White House recently hosted the National Cyber ​​Workforce and Education Summit focused on closing the IT skills gap and building the cyber workforce. Nevertheless, even with the considerable efforts made, the impact of the above trends will be that fewer federal IT employees will do more work, leaving them less time to focus on strategic initiatives that drive innovation. .

A solution

Autonomous computing technologies driven by artificial intelligence can play an important role in managing the inevitable boom in federal employee retirements.

It is important here to clarify and define some often confusing ideas: autonomy versus automation and AI versus machine learning.

Autonomy means that something is self-sufficient, requiring no human intervention. Autonomous systems can learn and adapt to dynamic environments. On the other hand, automation refers to something that narrowly focuses on a specific task based on well-defined criteria.

Any required change to what an automated system does requires humans to change the criteria. On the other hand, autonomous systems operate through AI. AI is the ability of a computer system to essentially “think” for itself. The system uses math and logic to mimic human reasoning to learn new information and make its own decisions, but with human oversight. ML, on the other hand, is how systems continue to grow their intelligence through mathematical modeling.

To illustrate how AI-powered autonomous systems can help reduce federal IT staff, consider autonomous data management.

Automation has already played a key role in data management for some time. Backup software has long made it possible to easily and automatically back up data from specific stores after a predefined period of time or following some other trigger. It then got a bit more sophisticated with things like automated discovery and automated protection for new workloads.

Now, basic AI-powered autonomy powers anomaly detection that helps protect data from the effects of the ever-changing threat landscape, where ransomware comes back into this discussion. Artificial intelligence is also currently helping to predict hardware failures in backup storage devices and allowing affected hardware to be replaced before failure to avoid the impact on backup performance and recovery failures.

The next step is AI-powered technology that can automatically deliver, optimize, and repair data management services for large amounts of data in today’s multi-cloud environments. In practice, this will look like autonomous provisioning of data protection policies when new services and users are rolled out and autonomous monitoring and deployment of new policies that match an enterprise’s observed data usage, all without human intervention necessary, although human oversight is not sacrificed.

Autonomous AI-powered computing systems, such as the Autonomous Data Management I’ve described here, aim to free technology professionals from the mundane aspects of computing, which for government IT staff is bound to to continue to increase as more and more of their colleagues choose to retire. These autonomous IT systems can not only help federal IT departments survive the retirement tsunami, but also drive it toward greater innovation by freeing staff to focus on more strategic and transformational initiatives.

Kevin Youngquist is Vice President of the US Public Sector at Veritas Technologies.

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