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People and Process: What CIOs Find the Hardest to Modernize

State technology leaders like Colorado Chief Technology Officer David McCurdy and California Chief Information Officer Amy Tong had plenty to say about roadblocks on the path to digital transformation.

Ask any chief information officer in government and they're likely to tell you that their organization is in some stage of modernization or digital transformation. Even if most or all of their legacy systems have enjoyed a recent update, there are always improvements that can be made using technology to optimize operations and service to citizens. Rightfully, CIOs play a vital role in helping lead those projects.

At the annual National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) conference last month in San Diego, we asked state technology leaders which transformation efforts most often run into trouble. In other words, what's the most difficult thing to modernize in state IT?

Colorado CTO David McCurdy said it's difficult to get the workforce to understand that technology enables an overhaul of process too, and that the end result is a net positive. 

"The hardest thing is getting people out of that mindset that we must reproduce this thing one for one when technology allows them to completely wipe out or change for the betterment of the whole interaction or the process," he said. 

California CIO Amy Tong said modernizing technology is "more straightforward" than updating business processes. And while she feels the effort to update processes is well worth it, moving the organization and its people toward transformation is cumbersome and time-consuming.

"It's a must do, in my mind," she said.

Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.
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