Monitoring State Employees Technology And Determining Their Specific Needs

Chris Estes, Chief Information Officer , North Carolina
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Chris Estes, Chief Information Officer , North Carolina

Chris Estes, Chief Information Officer , North Carolina

Technological trends will have significant impact on your business environment

The consumerization of technology is driving trends in both private industry and government, and we have to work smarter and faster if we want to compete. Customers – in our case, the state agencies we provide IT services for – will go somewhere else if we don’t meet their needs.

To survive as IT professionals we have to focus on the consumer or user of services. It’s important to recognize that consumers aren’t buying technology – they’re buying the solution the technology represents. Our governor often says that doing business with the government should be as easy as checking the scores on a smart phone. That’s the transformation we have to go through.

When it comes to IT, North Carolina has been in the auto parts business for years. We have a dozen of some parts.We have a dozen others that don’t fit together. You can’t remain in the business of selling parts when people want to buy a car. We need to build a state technology vehicle, determine where the driver is going, and assemble a car that gets them there.

We’re moving towards that at the Innovation Center we just opened in downtown Raleigh. It’s a working lab where our state employees, agency CIOs, students and IT professionals from the Research Triangle Park area collaborate to test new technologies. We put a “try before you buy” policy in place and vendors will have to prove that their products work before the state invests in them. We’re going to change the way the state has done business for years by bringing IT projects in on time and within budget.

One of the first projects we launched at the center involves persona work. We’re monitoring how state employees use technology so we can determine their specific needs. The goal is to identify half a dozen personas, like a field worker who uses a tablet every day. Once we solve that, we can bundle solutions into a package that’s unique to each employee and price and bill their agencies accordingly. We need to simplify, reduce duplication and break down the silos that prevent us from operating efficiently.

Social media will play an increasingly important role as part of our larger messaging around digital strategy. The Innovation Center is the ideal platform for expanding our reach through the social networks that people turn to for information.

Our work at the center ties in with our overall strategy, which begins with accelerating consumer orientation. We have to use technology to make government services more accessible on the devices people are using. We’re also balancing innovation and risk. We might like to have all the bells and whistles, but an 80% solution may be good enough for state government.

We’re also collaborating as One IT for the first time by bringing our agency CIOs under one roof to operate as an enterprise instead of individual businesses. The first three steps will lead us to our ultimate goal of delivering more effective operations for people who live and do business in North Carolina.

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