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What do dad jokes and IT have in common? Our thoughts on NASCIO 2023

Conference Hall

What did the fish say when it ran into a concrete wall? DAM!

Sorry if that made you groan. It’s been nearly a week since we wrapped up the NASCIO Annual Conference and we’re still groaning from the dad joke competition during the closing event. But while we’ve unpacked our suitcases, we’re still unpacking some of our thoughts and learnings from this gathering of state CIOs.

Here’s a few of the things that have stayed on our mind since the end of the conference.

Top priorities remain mostly unchanged…

Surprising no one, the State CIO Top 10 Priorities remain largely the same this year. Cybersecurity continues to top the list, as it has for the past ten years, with ransomware being the largest concern this year.

The top priorities for 2023, as outlined by National Association of state CIOs

…But with some new additions

While emerging technology has been a consistent placeholder on the priority list, generative AI is the new buzzword ranking in that slot. The top areas of interest for state CIOs are citizen services and experiences, cybersecurity, fraud prevention, and procurement. Around 60% of new generative AI projects at the state level are focusing on internal processes rather than externally facing services, which may help to keep guardrails until the technology becomes more familiar and better understood.

And a few other cultural shifts

In the face of the ongoing workforce shortage and challenge in finding new blood, 45% of state IT jobs are removing a four-year degree requirement, widening the candidate pool for these necessary roles — and hopefully getting them filled faster.

This shift comes as more and more states move more infrastructure to the cloud. With the struggle to maintain consistency in digital services across departments while maintaining compliance with federal guidelines, state IT workers have a few more complications standing in the way.

From Digital Front Door to No Wrong Door

In addition to migrating to the cloud, states want to improve citizen experience – but this poses a different challenge. With different agencies utilizing different CRMs, it will be a difficult task to automate parts of the citizen experience. If someone files for unemployment in one CRM system and SNAP benefits or housing assistance in another, that process can’t be automated unless those CRMs are connected and able to interact.

Despite the challenges in the way, states want to succeed in providing consistent levels of service across departments. Some states are moving away from the Digital Front Door model, where one page acts as the front door for every state service, and instead focusing more on integrating apps, or ensuring that there is no wrong way to access services, AKA ‘no wrong door’ to reach help.

What do dad jokes and state CIOs have in common?

Not all of NASCIO is about government — some of it is about terrible, groan-inducing dad jokes. But, regardless of how you feel about them, lame jokes do help build connections. Which, in the end, is what the annual NASCIO conference is all about.

If government exists to enable daily life, then NASCIO is an opportunity to explore how we can improve the technology and systems that enhance those connections. And connection was a major theme of the event — from speaker Annie Griffith, Photographer for the National Geographic, explaining her philosophy of not traveling with a dedicated interpreter so that she has to connect with others despite language barriers, or from the friendly (we think) pun-off and corny joke competition between Minnesota and Wisconsin CIOs Tarek Tomes and Trina Zanow during the Awards Ceremony.

Everything came back to connection. And those connections start with trust.

Connections start with trust

And trust starts with a strong foundation. If you’re trying to make better connections with your citizens or customers, you might benefit from guidance from a company that has a history of creating big-picture, enterprise-wide solutions. Talk to an expert today to get started.

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Kelley Jacob

About the Authors

Kelley Jacob

Vice President, Public Sector Sales

Kelley focuses on crafting successful customer experience programs for state, local, and county government agencies, specializing in ground-to-cloud migrations.

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Amber Rosebaugh

Amber Rosebaugh

Vice President, Capture Management and Public Sector Sales

Amber specializes in aiding purpose-driven agencies to craft technology strategies for seamless experiences for employees and citizens.

Read more