As a large and operationally active organization, First Air Force is vulnerable to various internal and external forces that affect how it approaches its responsibilities and the degree of success it achieves as it undertakes its mission. The biggest challenge the organization faces lies in change management, which manifests both internally and externally. Internally, employees are generally reluctant to change and are, as a result, impeding the implementation of critical strategic amendments that should accelerate First Air Force’s progression. On the external front, First Air Force’s ability to scan its surroundings, identify the changes that are manifesting, and adapt accordingly by staying abreast of developments is still wanting.
Thus far, it is evident that First Air Force’s technological component is not only advanced but also streamlined enough to support its strategic requirements regarding IT governance, management, planning, and staffing functions. At the moment, the organization’s IT governance template is composed of a feedback system, performance appraisal, strategic alignment, risk management, resource management, and value delivery (Baugh et al., 2015). However, its Command & Control Center is held back by internal and external socioeconomic, environmental, and technological obstacles. For instance, headquarters is lagging regarding using technology to improve its collaborative capacity.
As a federal agency and a constituent of the Global Information Grid, commonly known as GIG, First Air Force’s base is expected to exchange various resources, led by intelligence, with the relevant personnel. In this instance, relevance refers to one’s security and information privileges as defined by internal communication hierarchies and clearances. Disappointingly, First Air Force is struggling to fulfill this mandate without the likelihood of risking system security.
The organization presently relies on SharePoint, a USNORTHCOM collaborative service, to support cooperation among its different departments, divisions, and directorates. SharePoint also interfaces the Command & Control Center with mission allies and field workgroups. Sometimes, the interdependencies mentioned above and significant data traffic limits access to First Air Force’s web portal; the unwelcome outcome is that the organization cannot provide prompt technical support. Another, more important implication of this impedance is that First Air Force’s interests are overridden by the problems posed by significant commercial concerns.
Based on the assessment of users, which was adverse, the SharePoint services of Combatant Command are equally underwhelming. According to Glazunova et al. (2017), a large proportion of users find the system unreliable concerning security and accessibility of website services. For this reason, they are often compelled to work around this temporary inconvenience by using electronic mail, an option which further compromises the security of the whole organization; this is because conducting formal organizational processes via insecure Internet channels violates and weakens existing security protocols.
Parnell et al. (2015) add that ultimately, electronic mail makes First Air Force’s information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Many departmental employees have elected to use the shared network server, which enables access to all organizational records for all recognized users. The problem is that the shared drive is impractical and restricts access to patrons covered by the local area network (LAN); this makes it outdated by modern standards. It can be remedied by deploying VPN, but it usually subjects users to harsh scrutiny owing to the criticality of the federal data hosted on those drives. In summary, First Air Force’s internal information sharing and access protocols are inadequate and ineffective as they fail frequently and lack a local support system that can solve enterprise-related problems rapidly. They are also evidently imbalanced as they either impose too many restrictions that limit information exchange or offer too much access that increases insecurity.
The operational integrity of First Air Force’s ICT governance framework is directly reliant on the support of an external entity; specifically, over 80% of the elements articulated in the current structure are attached to an external server. The degree of overreliance is such that if the server suffers downtime during emergencies, the only complementary server also exists on a different external server that is seldom used or maintained. Consequently, it is evident that First Air Force must not only minimize but also discontinue its reliance on external servers that are both insecure and erratic; to accomplish this, it must, as a matter of urgency, consider acquiring and installing an in-house SharePoint server. An in-house server offers greater dependability vis-à-vis security and service continuity, reduces operational costs associated with using an external server, and supports organizational operations comprehensively.
According to Ibtihal, Driss, and Hassan (2017), the rationale behind migrating from an old external SharePoint server is clear to a virtual in-house Office 365 or SharePoint server is indisputable. In spite of this, implementation is unlikely to succeed considering the level of resistance to change that is inherent at First Air Force. First Air Force’s employees fear change and are also frustratingly lazy; this has hindered the actualization of the Command & Control Center’s Knowledge Management policy and prevented staff from supporting the evolution. Apart from this, the personnel in charge of formulating a sound Course of the Action (COA) framework that will underpin the adoption of a better information sharing system have found the task of rallying stakeholders to make contributions more difficult than was initially expected. It has left the organization in limbo as it is caught between migrating to an internal server and persisting with the external version.
First Air Force’s internal environment, including its employees and leadership, is averse to change, a reality which complicates implementation of progressive IT policies. The organization should engage all stakeholders appropriately to moderate resistance to the proposed new server and any other future IT solutions. Another essential step that First Air Force must make entails cultivating an organizational culture that enhances continuous innovation and growth especially as pertains to ICT&D. Additionally, the organization’s leadership should provide support and goodwill, motivate and inspire employees, and augment existing techniques and technologies. De Vries (2011) asserts that an improvement policy is a crucial ingredient in the creation and sustenance of an evolutionary innovation strategy and mindset. Proactive leadership is central to the development of a thriving and stable organizational culture that prevails over change resistance; it also engages employees on how they can access more opportunities for growth, acquire a positive attitude towards change, leverage their potential, and facilitate the attainment of organizational goals.
In conclusion, First Air Force’s internal and external environments are delaying its technological evolution as they present various challenges that inhibit its ability to optimize its growth potential. Also, it is safe inferring that the internal environment is a more significant impediment compared to the external environment, especially as the organization’s in-house systems and policies are yet to be aligned with its strategic goals and objectives. And this is a primary reason why, for instance, it is yet to install its SharePoint server and continues to depend on an external one despite having the human and financial wherewithal tohost and share its own data independently.
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