How Government CIOs Can Win the Digital Battle

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Last week I spoke to a local government CIO about innovation. We discussed about the impact of digital, open data, social media and more. When I made my usual point about the imbalance in the use of open data and more in general of digital innovation toward external impact and the apparent disregard for how these can be leveraged internally, he was in violent agreement with me. This was both surprising and rewarding, as his jurisdiction has been quite active on the open government front.

The point he was making is that, as the chief information officer, he has to be on top of all the data that impact service delivery or operations, be that data internal or external. Therefore I assume he does not see the need for separating new roles, such as chief digital or chief data officer, from the CIO role, and certainly not for distinct reporting lines. This challenges the belief that, in order to boost transformation and innovation, these roles must be independent. However the CIO needs to have a pretty clear view about.

  • all the stakeholders involved in the innovation process
  • how the boundaries between different stakeholders category evolve
  • what is the direction of engagement

The most obvious stakeholder categories are: government (different agencies), other tiers of government, constituents (citizens, businesses, visitors), industry and consumer associations, NGOs, citizen social networks.

Open government has shown that the boundaries between different categories of stakeholders are blurring:shared service initiatives on the one hand and citizen engagement in service delivery on the other hand are examples of how boundaries are changing. In particular, the evolving role of employees who are empowered by consumer technology used in the workplace is moving the boundaries between government agencies and citizens.

Finally, government can be a driver of engagement, by determining the place and pace of collaboration and engagement, or a follower, by joining existing communities. As the latter mostly involves individual employees and the former refers to the government organization as a whole, this creates interesting dynamics around workforce management.

CIOs who understand all different dimensions and nuances will thrive. Those who don’t will struggle and gradually lose their relevance.

Source: Gartner – Author: Andrea Di Maio