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CIO Dewand Neely Talks Cloud Evolution, Data Analytics in Indiana

Neely says the state is looking to offload some more expensive workloads, pushing those into cheaper storage in the cloud, and battle recidivism using data analytics.

Dewand Neely took the helm at the Indiana Office of Technology in October, named by Gov. Mike Pence to replace Paul Baltzell, who held the CIO position since Pence first took office in 2013. Neely was one of the office’s first employees when it was formed in 2005, and most recently held the post of deputy CIO over desktop and support services.

How are you using the cloud today and how do you expect that to evolve?

Currently cloud consumption comes from software-as-a-service platforms since a lot of major vendors are starting to adopt that model. The other areas where we can step back and make some smart approaches are around cloud storage. We’re looking at trying to offload some more expensive workloads, pushing those into cheaper storage in the cloud.

Indiana has gotten a lot of attention for the work of the Management and Performance Hub. What’s next for data analytics in the state?

We’re going to battle recidivism now and take a look at how we can improve that and manage future populations for our correctional facilities. Other agencies are also starting to get creative and think about what they can do. As the demand rises, we’re going to look at making [data analytics] more of a service offering, similar to how we do some of the other services that we provide for agencies.

What would you recommend to other states looking to get into data analytics?

One of the key things is making sure agencies are comfortable with what you want to do with their data. We needed to create an extremely secure environment where we can run the analysis and store the data while we are tinkering and running algorithms over it, so we created a secure area that requires additional checks and balances. Access is strictly controlled and even the individuals who are working with the data are forced to go through additional background verification. Giving them that feeling of comfort has helped a lot with getting over that curve.

As the new CIO, what are your priorities going forward?

A couple of my initial priorities are communication and agency partnerships. I’m fortunate that I know most of the agencies that we support intimately from being there a while, so the plan is to re-engage and provide more relationship management, provide liaisons, and do more specific and pointed communication directly for the agencies, so they feel like they’re involved and not just getting bulletins that are meant for the masses. I think that’s going to go a long way to push other priorities like increasing security and doing more strategic cloud moves.

Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.