Connecting state and local government leaders

5 Takeaways from NASCIO’s 2018 Midyear Conference

Smart City

Presented by Centurylink's logo

Now more than ever, state governments feel pressure to deliver heightened citizen experiences through digital solutions and embrace IT modernization to more effectively perform services. This past April, state and local chief information officers gathered at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) 2018 Midyear Conference to exchange best practices on IT modernization and innovations at agencies across the nation.

Whether you were unable to attend the event or would like a refresher of some of the insights shared there, here are some of the key takeaways from NASCIO’s 2018 Midyear Conference:

1. The focus should be on the end user

Implementing a new digital solution for any function of state government can be a daunting task. From allocating budget and bolstering internal support to devising an implementation strategy, IT managers and CIOs can find it difficult to keep sight of the intended end result: an improved end-user experience. Whether the end users are state employees or public citizens, any improvement in IT management should keep the user experience in mind in order to be effective and sustainable. When developing mobile applications or implementing new data management systems internally, simplicity and ease-of-use should be the top priority. Agencies can start by incorporating the end user in the design process in order to create a digital function that is effective and maintainable.

2. The CIO must also play the role of chief communicator

In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, the CIO must play many roles – including that of a communication officer in order to explain the value of new technology for those both inside and outside of their IT function. Communicating the goals, imperatives, risks, and necessary investments of any digital solution across teams is critical to implementing that technology. Effectively communicating complex IT issues both externally and internally can help CIOs get support from the public and key stakeholders for any new programs or technology. In order to do this, CIOs should tailor their message to their audience and touch on the pain points the technology could solve for that particular person or team. Making the result of the technology relevant to multiple members of the organization and the public can ensure new technology will will be viewed as a benefit rather than a burden.

3. Partnerships can spur innovation

By partnering with commercial businesses as well as localities, state governments are finding ways to implement new technologies and drive efficiencies across departments. Overcoming legacy systems is a well-documented challenge for state governments, but both Oklahoma and North Carolina have found inventive ways to overcome technology hurdles and foster innovation within their respective states. Oklahoma’s state technology agencies teamed up to develop new technology solution ideas for startups in their state and the North Carolina Government Data Analytics Center transformed existing data sets into actionable information for state leaders. When looking to make data more accessible or when implementing new technology such as analytics, partners in both the public and private sectors can help CIOs bring new innovations to fruition.

4. Big Data and AI drive better decision making

As state governments gather more and more data on citizen services and public operations, they have to face the problem of what to do with that data and how to make it actionable. To overcome this challenge, more state agencies are turning to artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze their data and derive insights from it. Commercial partners can help agencies evaluate different IT solutions for storing data as well as implementing analytics to analyze the data and drive better decision making. Some agencies have even extended the concept of actionable data further by providing actionable insights on public data for citizens. Again, in North Carolina, the former state CIO was able to start analyzing state transportation data to provide insights that led to better decision making and improved citizen services. For example, analysis found that many people in the state visited the Department of Motor Vehicles solely to renew their license – prompting the creation of an online license renewal system.

5. Data infrastructure can fall victim to an environmental emergency

CIOs from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico shared how Hurricane Maria destroyed both territories’ data infrastructure systems, and gave best practices for how other CIOs can prevent this from happening in the future. The problem for both territories was that they had housed their data in single locations – for the U.S. Virgin Islands data was stored in one building and for Puerto Rico, the territory’s command center was destroyed in addition to most cellular towers being out of service. Both CIOs recommended states and territories put their infrastructure in geospatial databases to make data accessible and recoverable during an environmental emergency.  

CIOs will meet once again to discuss IT and cybersecurity best practices in October for NASCIO’s 2018 Annual Conference in San Diego, California. For more information on NASCIO click here.

This content is made possible by CenturyLink; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Route Fifty's editorial staff.