Things are humming along at Governing's Managing Technology conference. I just got out of a standing-room only session on IT consolidation. No surprise that the room was so packed -- consolidation seems to be on everyone's lips here.
The session was really informative on the challenges states face as they attempt to unify and consolidate their technology functions -- from purchasing and support to security and maintenance. But Michigan CIO Ken Theis said one thing that I thought really encapsulated the shifting role of state CIOs. Theis was asked how a CIO can initiate projects such as consolidation when there's no buy-in or support from the executive leadership.
His advice? Don't act like a CIO.
"When you talk to the executive leadership, make sure it's not a technology conversation or a consolidation conversation. It's about government policy initatives, and how technology can help facilitate those achievements. Put it in that framework and sell it as how technology can help government achieve its goals."
Theis says when Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm calls him these days, it's usually not even with a question about technology per se. It's about, for example, how the state unemployment office is swamped with new demand and can't keep up with the influx of new cases. Theis says his role is to discuss possible solutions -- and how technology can play a role.
"You've got to get to that mindset where they're not looking at you as a CIO, but as someone who can help fix problems."