January 17, 2008 By Steve Towns, Editor
In April 2007, Gov. Eliot Spitzer appointed Melodie Mayberry-Stewart CIO of New York state. Mayberry-Stewart, formerly chief technology officer of Cleveland, supervises the New York Office for Technology, and coordinates information sharing among state, local and federal governments.
GT: Now that you've been on the job for six months, where do you need to challenge the status quo?
Mayberry-Stewart: One major challenge is modernization of our systems. It's very important for me to get to know what the commissioners of the particular departments want to achieve. And then you start to look at how technology can contribute to them achieving their business goals. How can we integrate the sharing of information across agencies that have a lot of information they don't share between themselves? Why not have a single system that affords that to happen?
GT: Is part of your role to become a business partner with other state agencies?
Mayberry-Stewart: Exactly. Fortunately we have commissioners who understand the value of IT. But because we have not invested to the level we should, we now have some antiquated systems, some systems that aren't really meeting our needs. So our other challenge is speed to market. How quickly can we modernize these systems to get the value we need?
GT: What's the right mix of technical and managerial skills for today's CIOs?
Mayberry-Stewart: If you look at CIOs, they're probably 15 percent to 20 percent technical, and 80 percent is really business strategy and trying to optimize what the vendor community has to offer. So for me, that 15 percent or 20 percent is the balance I want to strike. But even at that, it's a significant investment. When you're asked to be an agent of change, when you're asked to drive innovation, you have to have a good sense of what the trends are, what the horizons are, and what the emerging technologies are. So you've got to stay close to it. You can't just walk away from it.
GT: How will New York state promote energy efficiency?
Mayberry-Stewart: When we look at procuring computers, we certainly can - in our own specifications to the vendor community - start driving for them to be energy-efficient. We also can look at the process we've put in place to dispose of computers. There's a possibility to recycle them in underserved communities. As we look at building major data centers, I think our requirements certainly have to be what I would consider best in class to put our vendors on notice that we want to have greener computing facilities.
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