My Cup of IT: Turn That Frown Upside Down

By Steve O’Keeffe –

MeriTalk puts out lots of studies. Cloud. Cyber security. Data centers. Big data. You name it, we’ve got the vital stats. But the downloads from the latest study stopped me in my tracks. You see, when almost every cabinet-level CIO downloads a study in the first week it’s published, you know you’ve struck a chord.
Unlike most MeriTalk studies, our latest, the Customer is Always Right, doesn’t tell us what IT thinks. Instead, it shines a light on what IT’s customers think of IT. Guess that’s why Federal CIOs have been pointing, clicking, and downloading.
So, what’s the skinny? Well, that depends on if you’re a half-full or half-empty person.
First, it gives us the Fed Fab Five – the top five agency IT departments as ranked by IT customers. Drum roll – like every good beauty pageant, let’s proceed in reverse order from five to one. Energy. Army. DHS. Treasury.
And, the number-one rated IT department in the Federal government. Wait for it. The Department of Labor. Congratulations Michael Kerr. Unless I’m wrong, this is the first ranking of IT that wasn’t scored by IT – and clearly some agencies are doing a great job.
But it’s not all swimsuits and bouquets. There’s some cold water too. For starters, just 46 percent of Fed execs view IT as an opportunity. Thirty two percent view it as a cost – and 22 percent are unsure whether it’s a cost or opportunity. A $78 billion budget line item with a 46 percent customer approval rating is a precarious position in a down economy. Further, none of the IT transformation megatrends show up as priorities for Fed execs. In fact, agency execs view IT as a support vs. transformational function – 56 percent see IT as a work horse supporting daily agency operations.
Less than a quarter of Fed execs say their agency uses IT to provide analytics to support decisions or identify areas for savings and increased efficiency – and these imperatives top Fed execs’ list of priorities. Hardly surprisingly, Fed execs believe that IT can do better – just 48 percent believe their agency leverages its IT department to the fullest extent.
So, here’s the half-full position again – it’s time to turn that frown upside down. Fed execs want more from IT – which is good for IT. Considering customers’ recommendations on how to improve Fed IT, it’s neck and neck at the front of the suggestion line – 54 percent of Fed execs want new tools and an overhaul of outdated IT systems and processes, respectively. Thirty seven percent want new mobile solutions. Significantly, leaders assert that IT should be involved earlier in leadership planning and they recommend more meaningful collaboration between IT developers and their customers.
Let’s face it, the first step to enlightenment is self awareness. IT can’t transform government efficiency without Fed execs’ support. CIOs’ interest in the study shows digitals get the drift. And, speaking of CIOs and the study, register to hear Nitin Pradhan, CIO at Department of Transportation, talk about the study on a webcast at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, August 23. Nitin’s customer-first approach is sure to put a smile on your face.

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