Lance Bellers - Fotolia

State CIOs may call on channel partners for cloud advice

As the role of the state CIO evolves, IT service providers have an opportunity to provide assistance as government agencies consider their cloud computing options.

As state governments grapple with how to leverage cloud opportunities to deploy new technologies and keep costs down, they are counting on their CIOs to oversee initiatives and put together the pieces of their technology puzzles.

As a result, state CIOs are undergoing a transformation from their traditional role to more of a "chief integration officer" approach. And, in many cases, they are looking for outside help, creating opportunities for IT service providers to develop and manage cloud-based services for state agencies.

State CIOs today are expected to come to the table with ideas and solutions to ease their states into the age of cloud computing. The order of the day is greater integration and communication between departments to facilitate data sharing. States want to knock down traditional barriers between agencies to boost efficiencies and improve citizen outreach.

State CIOs are under pressure from multiple angles.
Josh Nisbetdirector, Deloitte's Public Sector Practice

Consider, for instance, how data collected by a motor vehicles department about license holders can be stored in a central database shared by other agencies. This saves time for state functionaries in collecting or retrieving data while reducing the kinds of bureaucracy that cause frustration for citizens.

The state of Minnesota, for example, is on a path to bringing IT assets together under one umbrella to create an integrated view of citizen data. If a potential welfare recipient applies for food stamps, in many cases the person also qualifies for other aid programs such as child welfare assistance and welfare-to-work. Under traditional approaches, the individual has to walk through several doors to find out which programs he qualifies for, but a central data repository can make that a thing of the past.

Opportunities for IT service providers

CIOs have a seat at the table as these programs are developed, making decisions on what technologies to deploy, and determining whether to build cloud services in house or connect to third-party providers that can deliver the necessary cloud infrastructure. This is an area where IT service providers can step in and really make a difference.

State CIOs are under pressure from multiple angles. They must contend with compliance issues surrounding an intricate and evolving web of state and federal regulations; keep up with the exponential pace of technology advances; abide by federal mandates on how to deploy certain technologies; and recruit skilled personnel to manage technology systems and initiatives.

Cloud and managed service providers can help select and manage technology solutions and fill in skills gaps by bringing their expertise to the table. While some states, such as California, have opted to develop their own clouds, most will adopt an off-premises cloud model, and they need providers to deliver and manage the services.

Understanding the requirements

For service providers to leverage cloud opportunities with state governments, there is prep work to be done. Considering the highly regulated environments in which state agencies operate, regulations must be understood and systems must be compliant. For example, a good first step for any provider working with states is to identify the security protocol in place and make sure their solutions are compliant.

Second, it's important to keep in mind that practices and regulations differ from state to state; what works in one won't necessarily apply to another. Some states have stringent geographic requirements regarding where their data resides -- for example, requiring data to be housed and managed within state borders -- while others loosen that requirement perhaps only to make sure their data doesn't leave the country.

Fundamental role

Getting a handle on all the technology changes taking place at the state level is a tall order for any CIO. Providers with the right expertise and compliance levels can play a fundamental role in helping state CIOs get a handle on the ongoing transformation and redefine their jobs.

About the author:
Josh Nisbet is director of Deloitte's Public Sector Practice based in Sacramento, Calif., where his duties include market eminence, and building and expanding relationships with clients in the California state and local government marketplace. He most recently worked as vice president of state and local markets at CGI, where he served state government clients nationwide. Prior to CGI, he worked for 12 years as a sales executive in IBM's sales and marketing group.

Next Steps

Read a federal CIO's words of caution for cloud buyers

Learn how to assess your customers' cloud readiness

Find out about acquisitions in the cloud consulting space

Dig Deeper on MSP sales and marketing

Cloud Computing
Data Management
Business Analytics