Collaboration in Times of Consolidation: Hot Topic for State CIOs

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

NASCIO’s 2019 Midyear Conference last week brought together CIOs from 45 states and three territories and provided a multitude of opportunities to network with CIOs and state representatives, including 16 new CIOs from last year’s election cycle.

The overwhelming trend this year was collaboration, both internal to state governments and externally to their partners and constituents. Collaboration will be a key piece of the CIO’s arsenal as more and more states look toward consolidating and centralizing IT infrastructure.

Consolidation brings many benefits – from cost savings and improved management to better network visibility. By consolidating networks and infrastructure into a centrally managed data center or cloud environment, the CIO and staff will have more time to work on unique applications and delivering outcomes for their agencies. However, getting state entities to commit to and actively participate in a consolidation effort takes more than just the promise of cost savings.

When agencies independently acquire and build their own versions of cloud and network infrastructure or security solutions, it produces disjointed silos of government. State CIOs are working to align with agencies by encouraging collaboration on joint solutions and building stronger relationships by taking the time to listen to what the agencies need.

Needs vary greatly from department to department, but what they all require is an interoperable, scalable and secure infrastructure. The cost to manage dozens of separate agency networks and infrastructure is just not feasible; the manpower and operational cost is not sustainable.

Consolidation may not sound like welcome news to the vendor community since it will shrink the customer base. However, states will continue to consolidate their environments and vendors need to change the way they engage with them. Here are ways to improve your chances of being included in these efforts:

  • Buy into the program. State CIOs develop comprehensive strategic plans that outline the vision for the state and guides them in their decision making for large infrastructure and architecture purchases. Demonstrate how you fit into and support the strategic plan.
  • Get the agency excited, but work in alignment. In many states, despite a consolidated IT infrastructure, the spending and budget still rests with individual agencies. State CIOs provide the IT infrastructure through charge-back models. So, you will need to start your conversations with the agencies to understand their unique needs and develop tailored solutions for them. Once you’ve gotten the agency hyped up about the solution, you’ll need to ensure that it aligns with the state’s current infrastructure in order to get their approval for the project.

State CIOs understand that without the support of their vendors and partners they cannot deliver the IT infrastructure agencies need to support their citizens. They continue to struggle to recruit talent and need the expertise and support that vendors bring. They ask that vendors work collaboratively with state CIOs rather than using a divide-and-conquer approach. So, make sure you engage the state CIO’s office, understand their plan and vision and provide solutions that align with the state’s overall IT infrastructure.

If you would like help engaging with CIOs in your state, reach out to immixGroup’s Market Intelligence team to see how we can help you target your technology.

Keep up on trends and drivers in SLED. Subscribe to the immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider blog.

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