CIOs for U.S. States Share Ideas on Innovation, Changing IT
CIOs who work for the nation's states are finding that innovation and collaboration are becoming just as important as keeping applications and servers running.PHILADELPHIA—Changing roles for CIOs are not just occurring in private and public companies, but also for CIOs who build and run technology systems for the U.S.' 50 states and its territories. These CEOS are finding that their jobs increasingly involve collaboration with other states and agencies and also incorporate new requirements for bolder leadership and improved innovation. Those were among the key messages heard Oct. 14 by some 200 attendees at the 2013 Annual Conference of NASCIO, the National Association of State CIOs, held this week at Philadelphia's downtown Marriott Hotel. "You can't have innovation if you can't build core services," said Bill Oates, CIO for the city of Boston. He spoke during a panel discussion about the challenges CIOs face when trying to establish new strategies while also maintaining existing services. "It allows us to start thinking about innovation in a more sustainable way." To help generate new thinking, Oates said his office created an "innovation team" charged with envisioning new ideas in technology and processes that could quickly be implemented into visible and measurable results for end users. "We needed to establish some quick wins and a belief [among users] that not every IT project would take a year," he said.
One result was the creation of a smartphone app, in 2009, that allowed residents to report potholes, trash concerns and a raft of urban problems to city officials. This led to quicker reporting of problems compared to the existing, old-technology 24/7 call center that didn't always lead to the transmission of messages to needed departments, according to Oates. The city's smartphone app takes the reported data and quickly routes it to the proper city agencies to handle, making for a more efficient reporting process and happier consumers, he said.