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From The Editor

Like it or not, change has come to permeate government IT. Is your agency prepared to roll with the times, or will it get stuck in the past?

Changing Times
The hard part of technology is getting people to accept the changes that come with it. Bottom line, change is inevitable, even in states where the leadership remains stable.

With governor’s races in 36 states this fall, there probably will be a lot of new blood in state executive offices. Since the CIO post has become politicized, many new governors will bring new CIOs with them. (See “Election Outcome ” on page 28.) As a result, one of the biggest challenges facing many state CIOs is change management.

Technology is relatively easy to manage. The hard part — and the most critical part — is getting people to accept the change that comes with technology-driven initiatives.

To succeed, CIOs must manage these changes, make sense of huge projects and decide which ones to keep, cut or redirect based on their organization’s goals. To manage change from the top, CIOs must prioritize projects and find allies within their agencies.

Change is inevitable, even in states where the leadership remains stable. No one wants to think about the possibility of another pandemic like the 1918 influenza strain that killed tens of millions of people, but with today’s increasing bioterrorism threats, international travel and world agricultural trade, states that close their eyes to such a threat face potential disaster. (See “Out Sick ” on page 16.)

To prepare themselves, states need to revamp operations so that workers can continue to do their jobs from any location. (See “Home Work ” on page 20.) Critical steps include providing secure remote access to the network, equipping workers with portable tools, prioritizing business functions and ensuring that the most critical areas are covered in the event of a disaster.

CUTTING THE WIRELESS CORD

Even day-to-day operations are affected by change. Because they embrace technology and effectively manage the change it introduces, states like Rhode Island, Ohio and Colorado are seeing big improvements in their operations. (See “Ahead of the Wireless Curve ” on page 24.) They are among a growing number of states that use wireless technology to increase the mobility and capabilities of their workers and to offer improved service to citizens.

By equipping health inspectors, police officers and social workers with wireless devices connected to their back-end systems, Rhode Island is seeing big gains in employee efficiency. In addition, the state is establishing a wireless network, so waterborne first responders can distribute information via text, voice, data and video during emergencies.

All the change around us raises a chicken-and-egg type question: Have governments changed because of technology, or has technology helped transition governments toward their inevitable changes?

Regardless of what started it, change is unavoidable. And I’d be willing to wager that IT leaders who embrace it will be the ones who are around long enough to steer their agencies through future rounds of change.

Lee Copeland, Editor in Chief
leecop@cdw.com

Oct 31 2006

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