By William Bott, deputy for operations to Missouri's CIO.

If the cleaning crew had not entered the conference room, I am not sure any of us would have known how late it actually was.

The meeting had started at lunch with a casual discussion about how, as a soon-to-be-consolidated IT division, the CIO of Missouri could offer 14 executive branch departments any level of confidence that the service they were accustomed to would not suffer under the impending changes. Nine hours later, we had flip chart pages and Post-It notes littering the room, but no clear direction.

Four weeks earlier, Gov. Matt Blunt had tasked our state CIO with combining 1,200 staff members from 14 departments as part of his technology efficiency initiative. The governor's assignment to us was to maximize investments, reduce duplicative efforts and keep the departments happy. With a short timeline and a need for success, our new CIO's executive team began researching the national consolidation trend. With no two efforts alike, there was nothing out there that fit our situation. So without a playbook to steal, we began to write our own.

Consolidation is the next logical step in moving technology services to more of a utility role than a business function. Technology is the modern means to a business outcome, not an outcome in itself. A state's department of education should not have an efficient, reliable and available server environment as one of its outcomes. Instead, it needs an efficient, reliable and available server environment to provide the business outcome of educating children.

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