Accelerating Illinois’ Modernization: Real World Examples of Making Change Sustainable

Giving an overview of several of collaborative communities in Illinois IT, including how they were implemented and have functioned over the past year.

by Marian Cook, chief strategy officer for Enterprise IT, Illinois / March 16, 2016

Editor's note: This 30-day blog focused on Illinois' IT modernization was originally published on LinkedIn, and is republished here with permission.

Government, just like private-sector organizations, faces increasing pressure to respond and adapt to change. The state of Illinois as a whole, and the technology organization in particular, faces a long road of complex and disruptive changes to meet rising customers’ expectations and new technology opportunities. In previous posts, we discussed the state of Illinois IT. Technology highlights include:

  • Tens of technology silos
  • Old, unsupported systems
  • Out of balance cost structure

Puzzle: Given this, how can the state IT leadership work with employees to drive change faster than they have experienced before?

How do you…

  • break down barriers and prepare for consolidation?
  • signal change and redesign culture in a way that sustains over time?
  • encourage innovation and bring fresh perspectives in?

One solution (of many): establish collaborative communities as a key enabler of sustainable change.

As was mentioned in a previous post, 12 different types of communities have been implemented in a phased approach in the state’s technology areas over the last year to:

  • Collaborate: accelerate transformation and consolidation,
  • Externalize: get fresh perspectives in – or “externalize the enterprise”, and
  • Innovate: ignite innovation.

This blog post is an overview of several of these collaborative communities and how they were implemented and have functioned over the past year.

CIO Councils: This is a full day meeting every other month bringing more than 60 agency CIOs. Intent is to break down silos, and get input, feedback and buy-in to change efforts. It includes:

  • Internal leadership speakers: governor, deputy governor, state COO, state agency directors bring enterprise perspectives
  • CEO Speakers Series: high level private sector executives, such as the CEOs of Orbitz and 1871, lead discussions on new topics
  • Entrepreneur Showcase: start-ups present to agency CIOs
  • Leadership development program for agency CIOs and their teams
  • Find, highlight and leverage the many pockets of innovation throughout the state
  • Encourage innovation through an assessment and recognition process

Agency CIO Working Groups: Before Gov. Bruce Rauner’s emphasis on creating efficiencies via consolidation, there were not many enterprise strategies. Within IT, those enterprise strategies that did exist were hard to enforce. As a result, Agency CIO Working Groups were formed to create enterprise IT strategies and focus on carrying them out. They also focus on identifying quick wins and achieving them. The working group strategies and action plans are for:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Analytics
  • Mobility
  • Development Platforms
  • Website Technology & Content Management
  • Workflow Automation
  • Cloud
  • Integrity / Fraud
  • GIS
  • Small Agency Solutions
  • Innovation

Centers of Excellence: Over time, Agency CIO Working Groups evolved into Centers of Excellence (CoE). A CoE is defined as a virtual team of people across the organization sharing expertise, best practices and assets to achieve business results. There are, for example, many people in different agencies that are working on data analytics, but currently don’t interact in any way. The CoE is a way they can improve skills, leverage assets and create standards.

This, in turn, increases productivity, improves quality and reduces costs. At the state, we started with two Centers of Excellence: Internet of Things and Data Analytics. Several more are in the pipeline.

Strategic Advisory Boards: Centers of Excellence and working groups interface with our two externally focused Strategic Advisory Boards:

1. Smarter Illinois Advisory Board

The purpose of this advisory board is to bring the best minds together to help the state of Illinois create value through the use of smart state solutions built on Internet of Things (IoT) technology. A state can utilize many relevant solutions from the Smart Cities portfolio. It can also build key policies and regulations that enable state agencies, local governments and the private sector to capitalize on them. Members of this board include technology and thought leaders in IoT in the private sector, non-profit, academia and philanthropy. It has subcommittees focused on strategy, technology, workforce, finance, and policy and regulations.

2. Governor’s Technology Advisory Board

The purpose of this advisory board is to tap into the best minds for organizational transformation guidance, best practices and global trends. The end goal is to make the state easier to work with and more efficient, accessible and competitive. It consists of leaders from Illinois-based multi-national corporations, incubators and academic institutions. It has subcommittees focused on strategy, customer centricity and engagement, data driven value creation, enterprise security, workforce, and enterprise IT.

There has been enthusiastic and generous participation by the members on these advisory boards, and sincere appreciation on the part of the internal state of Illinois participants.

Collaborative Communities: Worth the Effort?

A resounding, “Yes!” According to the agency CIOs, these collaborative communities brought tremendous strategic and tactical value immediately. They are building strong working knowledge and relationships across the enterprise, yielding solutions to business and technical problems, new opportunities to leverage existing and new technologies.