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Three Key Questions for Federal CIOs

The US government has been directed to modernize its technology, but throwing out legacy technology without viable alternatives all lined up would be a terrible mistake. The time is now for federal CIOs to get their priorities and their plans all lined up. In an article for InformationWeek, Christopher O’Malley shares three questions that CIOs should ask themselves:

  1. What is your real objective?
  2. Where are the real constraints?
  3. How will you really measure and extend success?

Clarity in IT

Modernization is an edict, but it is not quite a goal. CIOs should first get very clear about their objectives for modernization before any actual work into it occurs. An example from O’Malley includes that an agency might need to expand its self-service capabilities. But whatever you do, keep the emphasis on improving specific, important aspects of operations. Do not let the emphasis shift to being about buying exciting shiny technology that serves no clear purpose.

Once you have your objectives in place, it is equally important to get clear about your constraints. They might show up in places that you had not been expecting:

For example, you may not be getting as much uptake on your mobile app as you’d like. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend a lot of time re-coding your front-end application. It could just be an interface issue. So instead of modernizing your underlying app code, you might be better of modernizing your app interface design.

On the other hand, your agency may also be struggling to deliver great mobile and web experience because of subpar development and ops on your core backend systems. In today’s multi-tier, multi-platform environments, there’s often a “domino effect”—where, say, something you’re trying to do on the web side is being constrained by sub-optimal calls to a database system of record.

For modernization to be successful in the long run, then modernization needs to become a mindset for the organization in general. Modernization is an ongoing effort that should be managed through smart metrics. Metrics are also useful in that they provide visibility and accountability. They will allow it to be more clearly seen how IT is spending its budget and where value is being created as a result of it.

For further insights, you can view the original article here:

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