The New CIO: Chief Influence Officer

CIOs learn to take on yet another role.

by / August 5, 2013

The role of the public-sector CIO is evolving to meet the needs of a changing workplace and increasingly high-tech constituency. This was readily apparent during the Public CIO Technology Summit in July, when CIOs from across the nation convened to discuss a range of mission-critical topics. While meeting in the nation’s capital, the state and local government CIOs were asked to describe their job — broker, innovator, data unlocker, enforcer of standards, purchaser, cheerleader and symphony conductor just graze the surface of how your peers see their jobs evolving.

The wide scope of roles that these officials are filling, leads to the idea that the “I” in CIO is as much about influence as information (although information remains a core driver of the job).

For example, the CIO must influence government officials and departments to share their data to enable both open and big data initiatives. Making data sets public can influence — and increase — the level of trust between citizens and government. Additionally, this open mindset can fuel the local startup community and influence who’s helping solve government’s problems. Looking for a way to show the value of analytics and big data? One CIO recommended starting with the low-hanging fruit in order to show wins and potential, and hopefully get top government leaders to support the initiatives.

During a discussion on emergency operations, attendees said recent natural and man-made disasters showed the value of CIOs and their teams during crisis. For instance, after learning about the need to reunite pets with their owners after a destructive storm, one CIO worked with vendor partners to quickly develop tech-based tools to help the process. Not only was the tech chief influenced by what was happening in the community, but the CIO also had a big impact on residents and likely their view of how government was helping during a time of need.

Finally, CIOs influence their co-workers and workforce. Attendees at the summit said that modernizing legacy systems is not just a technology issue, it’s also a people issue. As legacy systems are replaced, IT staff members are being trained to work on new projects and services. During this time, public CIOs can bring positive change to employees by inspiring them to take on mission-critical roles and drive change in their organization. In this spirit, this issue’s cover story will hopefully encourage you to look back on what you have learned throughout your career and inspire others with that advice.

Colorado CIO Kristin Russell said to always serve with integrity; good things will follow if you stay true to yourself personally and professionally. What could be more influential than that?

Elaine Pittman Former Managing Editor

Elaine Pittman worked for Government Technology from 2008 to 2017.

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