Super Bowl CIOs: Model Your IT Team After the NFL

This year’s draft: Pick up five skill sets for 2020.

While watching the last few hours of the Super Bowl pre-game show, I reflected on the various skill sets and team members needed for a championship-winning team. Strong ownership, a coach with a great plan, the quarterback with vision and leadership, a reliable and powerful running back and fast cornerbacks — it takes a lot.

What will it take for an award-winning government IT team in 2020? It’s important to ponder as baby boomers start to retire and a new generation of leaders emerge while concurrently we have the consumerization of enterprise IT.

How do we ensure that our CIO teams have the talent to stay relevant internally and meet citizens’ needs? I’ve compiled my top five IT skill sets for 2020 — if you’re a general manager of your agency’s football team, think about how you can make some trades and use free agents to round out your roster.

1 / User interface/user experience skills.
For years, IT neglected design. It wasn’t important to think about user experience, just the back-end developer. Does the code work? The last few years have shown, however, the importance of design. If you want people to use your technology, it must be functional. Think of Apple’s design and Facebook’s intuitiveness (did users get a manual when they started?) — that’s the expectation people have when using the new HR attendance app or parking payment system.

2 / Creative security.
It’s easy for security to say no. In security’s ideal world, it would own everything soup to nuts, harden all systems to the nth degree and control it cradle to grave. In 2020, with the rise of bring your own devices and software as a service, senior leaders will demand specific technologies, and security won’t be able to say no (see President Barack Obama and his BlackBerry). You’ll need creative security pros to devise unique solutions that allow deployment of these new tools and ensure the data is secure.

3 / Multisector management. Modern IT leaders can lead and understand all the constituents — government IT staff, business owners, contractors, nonprofits, civic hackers and citizens. To solve problems with shrinking budgets, IT leaders must build relationships across all these sectors and use their strong suits and creative business models. Have a staff member who is connected to the various networks so you can understand their strengths and perspectives.

4 / Rapid prototyping. Technology is changing fast. Government can’t wait six to 12 months to undergo the standard system development life cycle, governance processes and acquisition steps just to try a new technology. Government must rapidly prototype potential solutions in-house.

5 / Learn and leverage.
IT shops often fill roles around point skill sets — architecture, policy or a specific language or database — but the biggest skill set is staying fluent with new technology. Consumer technology is moving rapidly, and it’s readier than ever to be quickly implemented in the workplace. Further, it’s easier to find out what other cities are doing with new technology, like mobile or open data, and quickly connect and share best practices. Agencies need IT pros who know current consumer tech and learn from other cities.

2020 isn’t far away. As a general manager, use your draft picks and free agents to pick up the talent you need to win the big game. It’s no longer about focusing on standard IT skills; find talent who can help with user experience, creative security solutions, fast prototyping and multisector problem solving.