CIOs and Cloud: A Recipe For Success

For many state and local governments, IT modernization seems out of reach. Daily, agencies nationwide encounter barriers to digitally transforming their services. Whether it’s cost, cybersecurity risks or staffing shortages, even one obstacle can stall an agency’s modernization journey.

Thankfully, cloud computing can give chief information officers (CIOs) the ingredients they need to cook up modern agencies. Because they manage their agency’s information technology (IT), CIOs are uniquely suited for upgrading it. More importantly, cloud’s adaptability and security can help enable the innovation these CIOs need to overhaul their organizations.

To understand how CIOs can lead their agency’s digital transformation using cloud, GovLoop spoke with Hardik Bhatt, Leader, Digital Government at Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS provides on-demand cloud platforms and services to public and private sector organizations.

Prior to joining AWS, Bhatt served as the CIO of both Illinois and Chicago. Bhatt said that because CIOs manage IT, they’re critical for any government’s modernization efforts. “CIOs have this unique opportunity because of how the technology is available and how they’re positioned in the organization,” he said. “They need to take a leadership role for this transformation.”

Unfortunately, many CIOs are preoccupied with managing legacy IT. For example, Bhatt said it took an average of 39 days to set up IT servers early in his tenure as Illinois’ CIO. “The majority of the workforce gets tied up in keeping the lights on,” he said. “With cloud, you’re not tied up maintaining or managing legacy systems. You’re now offering agility to agencies.”

Cloud not only eases IT administration, but it also assists with other frequent CIO concerns. For instance, cloud can provide cost savings for agencies by delivering services more efficiently. “You’re not buying the server – you’re just getting compute capacity,” Bhatt said. “You can experiment, fail fast and innovate without having to spend as much taxpayer money on the hardware and provisioning necessary for testing.”

Cybersecurity, meanwhile, remains a constant anxiety for agencies as they handle sensitive citizen data. Fortunately, cloud can help fortify agencies by letting them deploy new security tools faster. “It completely changes your security posture,” Bhatt said. “Various cloud services keep a continuous watch on your environment.”

Cloud additionally offers agencies the opportunity to reskill their workers. Employees who once managed physical IT can learn new, cloud-based abilities. Governments with modern IT then become more attractive to new, younger employees.

Ultimately, cloud solutions such as AWS’s can provide agencies with elastic platforms for such emerging technologies as AI. AI mimics human cognitive abilities such as learning, making it a potentially revolutionary technology. “It’s endless, enormous innovation,” Bhatt said of cloud. “It makes your jurisdiction extremely competitive, agile and more secure.”

Takeaway: CIOs can use cloud to transform their entire government so that it’s agile, innovative and secure.

This article is from GovLoop’s recent guide, “How State & Local Tech Will Look in 2020 & Beyond.” Download the guide here.

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