Since being tasked with providing IT services across the state, WaTech has had to move thoughtfully into the space. Government Technology caught up with acting CIO Vikki Smith at the Washington Digital Government Summit to talk about it.
The state of Washington its is in the midst of a transformation, according to acting CIO Vikki Smith. Though she has only led Washington Technology Solutions (WaTech) since June 2018, Smith said the shift away being a central service provider to a services broker role has been a priority.
Washington is not unique in this effort, and Smith said many other states are looking in this direction. In an interview with Government Technology at the Washington Digital Government Summit,* Smith discussed this effort and the challenges that come with it.
“Having the opportunity to talk to other state CIOs across the nation, I think everybody is facing the same exact thing,” she said.”That is, how do you go from a central service provider to one that looks toward how to broker services?”
Since being tasked with providing IT services across the state, WaTech has had to move thoughtfully into the space, Smith said.
“The role is so critical in terms of end result, not only serving our sister agencies, but the citizens themselves and I think it’s got to be something that is done thoughtfully, looking at impacts, looking at stakeholders, and obviously moving ahead to the end result of leveraging technology.”
As for the near future, this work will extend into the move away from on-premise servers and to the cloud. The challenge will be doing it in a way that considers all agencies and stakeholders.
In her opening remarks at the event, Smith highlighted the need for technologists to embrace change, bearing in mind that technology is “fickle” and ever-changing.
“Realize that the role you play makes it so much easier for your organizations to do business, and yet with it comes a price,” Smith said. “You probably worry if [Microsoft] Exchange is up. … Technology is fickle and you guys have to stay ever-vigilant and make sure that you use the best that you can and that you always have insight in the game.”
Like many other states, Washington is dealing with myriad challenges ranging from application modernizations and procurement to cybersecurity and adjusting to emerging technologies.
“I want you to all kind of embrace technology and embrace the change,” she said.
This hinges on training incoming staff and being alert to the changing technologies and the impacts they will have on the larger organization.
“We need to be adaptive, we need to be thinking about what’s next and embracing that as a part of change," Smith said.
*Digital Government Summits are organized by the Center for Digital Government, which is part of Government Technology's parent company e.Republic.